Real Salt Lake rolling ahead of clash with Supporters' Shield leaders LAFC

It's been a turbulent week for Real Salt Lake off the field, but you wouldn't have known it from watching their 3-0 win over the Seattle Sounders at Rio Tinto Stadium on Wednesday night.

Playing in their first game since the dismissal of head coach Mike Petke, RSL didn't look distracted. It was a huge moment for interim boss Freddy Juarez and it continued the club's recent ascent right into the middle of the dogfight for playoff positioning in the Western Conference. Coming off Wednesday's victory, RSL are now 6-1-2 since June 29 and are tied with the LA Galaxy for third in the West at 40 points.

"I think everybody is feeling good right now," said forward Sam Johnson. "Of course, at the beginning of the season we weren't doing well. But I think now everybody has woken up, everybody wants something, everybody needs something, so everybody is on the same page. Everybody is thinking that we need to win games, we need to lift the Cup this coming season. We need to do something this season, at least, so now I think everybody is feeling good."

Wednesday's three-goal explosion was a flashy attacking display, but RSL's recent run has been keyed by locked-in defense. The Claret-and-Colbalt have five shutouts during this 10-game run and even held Seattle without a shot on goal for the entire match.

"We believe in defending not just at the back, but from the front," defender Nedum Onuoha said. "When everybody's doing that, then it makes it easy for the guys at the back and you can make better decisions. You've got more time because people are in the right place instead of it being so essentially reactive all the time. People are just in the right positions, and they're ready and prepared for most things that come our way."

The next test comes against Supporters' Shield frontrunners LAFC, as Bob Bradley's team visits the RioT on Saturday (10 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+ in US, on DAZN in Canada). Assistant coach Tyrone Marshall feels his club's recent form makes it an intriguing matchup.

"I think this is a good point to catch them," Marshall said. "We're playing well, they're coming in, they've been fantastic all year, so it's good for us to catch them on a rhythm like this that we're in. I think the boys are going to be full of confidence and that's what you want, especially playing against a tough team. We're going to rise up to that standard as well and then we'll see what happens when the ball rolls out."

Every point matters, a reality RSL defender Aaron Herrera said his team is keenly aware of, adding that he expects his team to come out firing when Saturday's match arrives.

"We have two days to rest, everyone will be doing everything we can to be fresh, and then I think we're going to try and win," Herrera said.


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