By: Jae Groll
Call it a jinx. A curse. A hex. Call it bad luck. Call it poor play. Call it what ever you want. The fact remains that Real Salt Lake, despite all their successes have never, ever, been able to garner even a single point at Pizza Hut Park the home of FC Dallas.
0-8. Zero wins, eight losses. It would leave one to believe that FC Dallas “has their number”. But don’t tell that to this current crop of RSL players. They enter the 2010 MLS Cup playoffs brimming with confidence.
RSL set several team and league records in the 2010 regular season and capped it off with an improbable comeback in the final game. There is no doubt that coach Jason Kries’ charges feel that this is a streak that can come to an end this week.[picappgallerysingle id=”9995374″]
RSL trained at their indoor facility this week due to frosty conditions in the Salt Lake City area and surely look forward to somewhat more hospitable conditions for this trip down south.
The first round match-up pits two of the hottest teams in the MLS. Dallas were on a 19 game unbeaten streak before losing to 2010 Supporters Shield winners the LA Galaxy in their season finale. RSL holding a sturdy 14 match unbeaten string of their own.
RSL will look to field a full strength squad with the possibility of only missing 23 year old midfielder Will Johnson. FC Dallas will be fielding a full strength squad of their own featuring the return of center half Ugo Ihemelu who was out for the match against LA with a hamstring injury.
All the talk in Salt Lake has been of bunkering in. Absorbing pressure and trying to escape with a point. This does not play to RSL’s strengths. They thrive on moving the ball and controlling possession. Coach Kries has kept his plans as close to the vest as possible as is his usual modus operandi.
What ever strategy is used by RSL the capture of a point is absolutely crucial to moving past Dallas in the playoffs. They can ill afford to come back to Rio Tinto behind on points or goals.
The losing streak has to end sometime and RSL are banking on exorcising the demons this Saturday evening. RSL fans are sure to travel well for this game and might be well served to work a little voodoo of their own, it might be the only way to break the curse.