SANDY — The pattern for Real Salt Lake has been pretty consistent for much of the season — lose on the road, return to Rio Tinto Stadium the following weekend and regain confidence with a win.
That pattern is about to change.
Real are in the midst of its first back-to-back road games of the season, which started with a loss at Vancouver last weekend. If RSL hopes to back up a loss with another win — which it’s done four times already this season — it must figure out how to get the job done the road.
RSL has lost three straight road games, a trend it hopes to snap this Sunday when to travels to face red-hot Orlando (3 p.m., KMYU), winners of five straight.
“It’s not an easy schedule for us; it never is,” said Kyle Beckerman. “We’ve got to find ways to get wins and points on the road and keep winning until we get into form and feel like we’re playing really well.”
That’s the form Orlando is in right now. Jason Kreis’s team has outscored opponents 14-8 during the streak, including a 2-1 win at Orlando last weekend.
Dom Dwyer has scored five goals for Orlando this season, and he is one of several dangerous weapons RSL’s backline must deal with.
“He’s shifty, he’s always bugging you, he’s always there, he’s always around, and he never gives up. Any play that’s a half-chance, he’s going to be there trying to capitalize on that,” said defender Justen Glad.
Real Salt Lake defended well in the first 75 minutes at Vancouver last weekend but conceded twice late and ultimately fell 2-0.
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RSL, which is the second-lowest scoring team in the Western Conference, had chances to score first but couldn’t capitalize. Coach Mike Petke said there was plenty to be encouraged about despite the loss, and he hopes the confidence carries over to this weekend.
“It’s important in a defeat to see positives. It’s a 90-minute game; you always see some positives in a defeat,” said Petke.
Positives on the road have been tougher to find. Real Salt Lake has lost by multiple goals in each of its past three road games — 3-1 at Toronto, 4-0 at New York City FC and 2-0 at Vancouver. It fell behind early against Toronto and New York City and could never recover.
Orlando will expect to come out on the front foot early, and absorbing that pressure and not falling behind early again will be key.
“It’s going to be tough. They have a ton of confidence, they’re just feeling like they’re going to win every game. It’s going to be important for us to stick in there, quiet the crowd as much as we can, weather any storm that comes and then when we get them on the ropes make sure we put a goal away to make it count,” said Beckerman.