RSL hopes to stop skid in matchup vs. Orlando City
Field Level Mediaon
Orlando City visits Utah in search of its first back-to-back wins in nearly a calendar year against a Real Salt Lake side that has lost four in a row for the first time since early 2017.
Former Manchester United star Nani scored his first two MLS goals in Orlando's 4-3 home victory over the Colorado Rapids last weekend, including a game-winning 89th-minute penalty.
The win was the second in its last three matches for Orlando (2-2-2, 8 points), its most successful stretch since they won six in a row in 2018 under former coach Jason Kreis.
Having never qualified for the postseason, the Lions are currently above the Eastern Conference playoff line after a dramatic encounter also delayed by storms.
"When you get a game that's so, sort of emotional, obviously a very late goal," said coach James O'Connor, "we're trying to quantify the emotional state of the players (in training), which is very difficult."
Meanwhile, RSL coach Mike Petke was in his very early days in charge of a club that was rebuilding when they last dropped four in a row in early 2017.
Expectations have risen considerably since then, with Salt Lake (1-4-1, 4 points) squeaking into the playoffs last year and advancing to the Western Conference semifinals.
But the schedule makers have done no favors for RSL over the early part of the season. They're now without a point from a four-game stretch that includes three against teams sitting in the first or second position in their respective conferences.
That has left Petke's group -- anchored by more young talent and less proven stars than some MLS clubs -- with less margin for error. It showed in their 1-0 loss at Seattle last Saturday, a goal decided by Nicolas Lodeiro's first-half strike.
"There was a couple mistakes on the goal that we watched this morning as a team and addressed," Petke said. "Things that we've been talking about for a while that popped up. And then after that, we had a lot of control and were unfortunate to not put away a couple chances."