Real Salt Lake has shown it can handle the best teams in MLS at home, winning twice last week on their own pitch against opponents that were in first place when they visited the Wasatch Valley.
Now RSL has to carry that momentum on the road, beginning with Saturday’s match versus enigmatic and maddingly inconsistent Minnesota United FC at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
No team turned more heads of late than Real Salt Lake (9-8-2), who followed up a 4-2 victory over Sporting Kansas City on July 4 with a 2-0 win over FC Dallas three nights later.
Albert Rusnak opened the scoring from the penalty spot against FC Dallas after Kellyn Acosta clipped Sebastian Saucedo in the box. Jefferson Savarino set up Luis Silva’s stoppage-time insurance goal that clinched the match.
“They’re two really good teams that we played,” Saucedo said. “The team was capable enough to take advantage of three points at home and we’re up there in the table and were trying to push towards playoffs. We have such a special team and I think we have to make the most out of it.”
RSL is 1-7-1 away from Rio Tinto Stadium this season.
“We’ve been good at home. We’ve got results at home,” Real Salt Lake coach Mike Petke said. “Now the focus is Minnesota on the road. Any week you can get six points, two wins in a row, against the top team in the West on that day, it’s special and it’s a great feeling. The guys are already focusing on Minnesota.”
Minnesota United FC has lost four of its last five MLS matches, including a stunning 3-0 loss on the road to Houston last week in which the Dynamo scored twice on set pieces.
The Loons (6-11-1) are 1-3 since reconvening from the World Cup group round break June 23, with all three losses to Colorado, Dallas and Houston directly coming from corner kicks conceded.
“It’s not like these are clever goals where you have to hold your hand up as a coach and go, ‘That’s really good play, and it’s a great finish,’ ” Loons coach Adrian Heath said. “It’s just a cross in the box, and it’s cost us again twice.”
The Loons return home, where they are 5-3-1. Minnesota United fell to 1-8 on the road this season and to 4-20-2 away from TCF Bank Stadium since coming into Major League Soccer beginning in 2017.
“For us to underperform like that (on the road), it’s an embarrassment to our jobs; it’s what we are paid to do,” Minnesota United defender Michael Boxall said. “We can’t do our jobs 50 percent of the time, we have to do it 100 percent of the time.”
Minnesota United followed up the loss in Houston with a 2-1 setback at home in an international friendly against Costa Rico’s Deportivo Saprissa on Wednesday at TCF Bank Stadium.
RSL and Minnesota United have played twice, with each winning on their home pitch.