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Real Salt Lake’s Playoff Ambition To Be Tested As Grueling Road Schedule Continues

Real Salt Lake celebrates a goal by Damir Kreilach #8 during a match against Colorado Rapids in the MLS Is Back Tournament at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex on July 12, 2020 in Reunion, Florida. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Real Salt Lake is in the midst of its most treacherous week to date in the 2021 MLS season as road games against the Galaxy and Portland await following the road draw against Houston last week.

Road Game Challenges

It does not take much research to realize that road games in MLS are far more challenging than hosting games. Through 15 games, RSL has played six road games tallying a 2-2-2 record. This week they will endure three consecutive road games in an eight day window.

The grueling week began with a 0-0 draw at Houston in a game that provided multiple goal scoring chances for both teams. Houston were undermanned and were without their key striker Maximiliano Urruti but RSL was unable to capitalize and had to settle for a point.

The week only gets harder, however, as RSL is faced with a road date with the number three seeded Galaxy before closing the stretch with a trip to Portland and the infamous artificial turf.

Chicharito Out

Fortunately for RSL, they will likely play the Galaxy without their star striker Chicharito who has reportedly suffered a setback in his recovery from an injury sustained a month ago.

However, the Galaxy enter the contest against RSL well rested and flying with confidence following their 4-1 win at home against the Timbers on July 30.

Immediately following the match in Los Angeles, RSL will travel directly to Portland and prepare for an encounter with the Timbers.

Portland, who currently sit two points and one place behind RSL in the Western Conference standings, are yet to lose at home this season. Rather, they have won five games and drawn two through their first seven home fixtures.

Toni Datković Available

The depth of RSL’s roster will be tested over the coming days. RSL center back Justen Glad was shown two yellow cards in the contest against Houston over the weekend and will consequently be unavailable to play against the Galaxy. Many pundits assume Erik Holt will fill the void left by Glad as newly signed Croatian center back Toni Datković has been dealing with an injury himself.

But, on the most recent injury report, Datković was not listed. Potentially signaling a chance that he could debut at some point this week.

Nonetheless, with or without the service of Datković, RSL manager Freddy Juarez and his players are faced with a trechourous couple of days. The pending results could have a significant impact on the long-term trajectory of the club in 2021.

After RSL let multiple points slip at home throughout the first half of the season, the pressure is mounting on RSL to pick up away points; a task that is very much easier said than done in MLS.

If RSL can somehow go unbeaten over the next two games, they will set themselves up for success down the home stretch. The pressure is mounting on Juarez and the players to live up to the expectation set by the fanbase.

Another year without a playoff appearance and the job security of a number of key employees, including manager Juarez, may be in jeopardy.

Galaxy Match Info

RSL and the Galaxy will kick off at 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, August 4th. The match will be available to stream via the KSL Sports & KSL 5 TV apps or on KSL Sports dot com.