This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
The symmetry is eerie for Real Salt Lake, a near-perfect match to the "perfect" start from a season ago.
RSL started 2015 on an unbeaten tear, winning twice and drawing three times in their first five games before falling to Vancouver Whitecaps FC at home 1-0 on April 18.
After a 1-0 victory over the Colorado Rapids on Saturday night, the 2016 version of RSL has won three times and tied twice as the lone unbeaten team in MLS after five weeks.
Their opponent next week, standing in the way of a continued unblemished record? The Whitecaps.
RSL coach Jeff Cassar downplayed his team's hot start, saying they aren't chasing the MLS unbeaten streak record of 19 shared by the Columbus Crew and FC Dallas.
"At the end of the day we should be 5-0, but we're looking to improve all over the place," Cassar said. "It just shows that we're doing some things well and it shows that we can still continue to still get better and that's important for our group going forward."
Bolstered by the return of Kyle Beckerman and Juan Manuel Martinez to the starting lineup and Javier Morales off the bench, RSL looked more organized in attack and shut down some dangerous Rapids chances with individual heroics from Aaron Maund and Nick Rimando leading to the team's first shutout of 2016.
"It was not our best night, but I thought there were some really nice individual plays that several of our players made to stop goals," Cassar said. "Aaron Maund obviously with a great play where he headed it away, Nicky made some great saves for us. But there was that grit there. There was that unity that we were bending but we weren't breaking and that's something for us to build on."
Vancouver has dropped three of its first six, including a 4-0 blowout Saturday to D.C. United, setting the scene for what Beckerman hopes could be another blank on the opposing scoresheet.
"We want to keep getting better," Beckerman said. "It's important to get three points at home, but as a team we want to get better, we want to be more dominant at home, so we'll work on it this week and see if we can get another shutout next week."
Forward Joao Plata, who is now tied for first in MLS in goals with four and tied for second in the league in assists with three, has as much right to bask in RSL's unbeaten streak as anyone on the team.
But he's looking forward just the same, trying to keep history from repeating itself in the form of a home loss to Vancouver.
"For me, it's good. I feel great. It's why we're training hard every day," Plata said. "We got three points, but we know we need to keep going."
Whitecaps at Real Salt Lake
P Saturday, 8 p.m.
TV • KMYU