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RSL enjoying torrid start to potentially monster season

Published April 12, 2011 7:33 am

Salt Lake off to blazing start in league despite pulling extra duty.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

If the only thing that kept Real Salt Lake from winning the Supporters Shield regular-season title in Major League Soccer last year was a shaky start, well … it's not letting that happen again this time.

Instead, RSL already has blossomed into one of the biggest stories in the league.

Even while juggling a historic qualification to the CONCACAF Champions League finals, the team has jumped out to the best start in its history, heading into a rivalry game against the defending champion Colorado Rapids at Rio Tinto Stadium on Wednesday night.

"Everyone is growing and maturing, the longer we play together," backup goalkeeper Kyle Reynish said.

Geez, you think?

Not only is RSL 3-0-0 and the only unbeaten team remaining in the league, but it's riding a 17-game unbeaten streak in regular-season league games, a record 36-game unbeaten streak in all competitions at home, and has allowed just four goals in seven games this year in MLS and Champions League action.

What's more, RSL dismantled New England 2-0 on the road last weekend, with basically one hand tied behind its back.

Coach Jason Kreis used only two regular first-choice starters in the game after a long trip back from a Champions League game in Costa Rica, yet RSL dominated the Revolution and proved yet again that it's probably the deepest team in the league.

"We put the challenge on them to rise to this occasion," Kreis said, "to step out and step up and make a statement for themselves. Not only for us, but for everybody in the league [to see] what kind of players they are. … They made a big statement for themselves and for our club."

Could go a long way, too.

Last year, RSL wound up regretting a 1-3-1 start that contributed to its falling three points short of catching the Los Angeles Galaxy in the race for the Supporters Shield. But its start this season already includes a 4-1 thrashing of the Galaxy at home, two shutouts on the road, and more than twice as many points through three games as it earned through five last year.

Midfielder Kyle Beckerman said the team is gunning to win everything it can get its hands on — the Supporters Shield, MLS Cup and the Champions League — and his teammates have agreed the club is poised for a tremendous year.

"We have high expectations for ourselves," midfielder Will Johnson said. "We have a group of guys now that is hungry to win things, and is due to win something this year. We have the talent and experience and all the rest of it, but we still have to go out there and do it."

mcl@sltrib.com —

CONCACAF Champions League final

P Game 1, April 20 • RSL at Monterrey, 8 p.m.

Game 2, April 27 • Monterrey at RSL, 8 p.m.

TV • Both games on Fox Soccer Channel






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