Sat, 02 Dec 2023

Real Salt Lake look to reverse slide against Whitecaps

Field Level Media
23 Sep 2023, 10:25 GMT+10

(Photo credit: Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports)

The pressure is increasing for Real Salt Lake and their playoff push as the club hosts the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday in Sandy, Utah.

Salt Lake (11-11-7, 40 points) is desperate to pull out of a tailspin that is threatening its postseason chances. RSL have lost four of five matches since resuming MLS regular-season play in August. Salt Lake's offense has faded, and the defense has become toothless during the stretch.

Wednesday's 3-1 loss to FC Dallas was a microcosm of the Utah club's problems during this late-season slide. RSL took a halftime lead on a goal from Chicho Arango but surrendered three goals over a 15-minute span early in the second half to lose a winnable match at home. It was the first time Salt Lake lost a match this season when scoring first.

Arango has tallied at least one goal in four consecutive matches. He isn't getting much help from his teammates on either end of the pitch.

"What we need at this moment is guys to step up and guys to really show the character, and guys who really put the team on their back," Salt Lake coach Pablo Mastroeni said.

Vancouver (11-9-8, 41 points) historically hasn't had much success in Utah. The Whitecaps have beaten RSL in Sandy just twice in 14 matches all-time.

Breaking through again on the road seems doable for Vancouver this time around. The Whitecaps were unbeaten in four straight road matches before falling 4-1 to Houston on Wednesday.

"It's a good wake-up call," Vancouver coach Vanni Sartini said of the loss to the Dynamo. "We've been in a kind of heaven from the last few weeks ... It's good to understand if we're not the best version of ourselves, it's hard to make points."

Potent offense has spurred Vancouver's climb up the Western Conference standings. The Whitecaps have scored eight goals in their last five road matches.

Brian White and Ryan Gauld have been an especially potent offensive duo. White has tallied 11 goals and four assists for the Whitecaps. Ryan Gauld has chipped in six goals and five assists over the past 10 matches.

RSL prevailed 2-1 over Vancouver in the most recent meeting between the clubs in February.

--Field Level Media

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