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The way Craig Waibel describes the arc of the longest road trip in club history isn't surprising. How Real Salt Lake will define this five-game, six-week-long trek totally depends on the result of its finale Thursday night at Yankee Stadium against New York City FC.

Through four road matches, RSL (6-4-2, 20 points) has managed three points.

"MLS is tough, and I think if we were to go on the road for five games at any point in the season and were to win two of them, that's fantastic," the RSL general manager said this week. "It's not the best, but to take six points of a possible 15 on the road? It all comes back to defend your home turf thing. Would I like to have seen a couple of draws instead of losses? Yeah, I'd love to. But three draws is equal to one win."

Waibel said RSL's training and coaching staff studied the health and the numbers of minutes played of certain players leading up to the eventual 4-3 loss at Columbus. Some players — see Morales, Martinez, Movsisyan — needed rest, studies showed. Which, you can guess, led to the decision to field a starting lineup featuring some back-ups against the Crew. Yura Movsisyan, who came down with an illness leading up to the match in Columbus, has recovered and is expected to play Thursday.

"I think with all that said, I thought our reserves played pretty well," Waibel said. "I think the mistakes defensively were made by guys that have played more than enough to not make the mistakes they made."

Waibel said either RSL or Columbus could've had as many as six goals in the thrilling match at Mapfre Stadium.

"[It was] one of those where you're defending the lamenting the defensive effort," he said. "But at the same time, had you took a point, I don't think we were very far away from that."

» Who coaches in the Bronx?

With RSL coach Jeff Cassar serving a one-game suspension following his ejection in the final minute of stoppage time in Columbus last weekend, that leads to the obvious question? Who's coach Thursday night?

"I think we're going to bring a high-profile European to coach the game," Waibel joked. "I think we might let [Patrick] Vieira coach both sides."

When Cassar served a one-game suspension last year, RSL goalkeepers coach Daryl Shore acted as head coach in his stead. Tonight at Yankee Stadium, it could be Shore or assistant coach Richie Williams.

"I don't know if we'll put just one guy in charge or if we'll just dole [the responsibilities] out," Waibel said.

» Wingert says Kreis deserved another year

Round II of RSL vs. NYCFC was supposed to pit Jeff Cassar and old pal Jason Kreis against one another once more, this time in The Big Apple. But after two years on the job at NYCFC, Kreis — RSL's longtime head coach — was abruptly fired after NYCFC's inaugural MLS season.

And Chris Wingert, who played under Kreis at RSL and at NYCFC a year ago, said his old coach deserved another year.

"I think it would've been beneficial for the team to have somebody have a little bit of time to try and accomplish and put into place their players and the kind of a plan that Jason had," Wingert explained. "It takes a little while. It's not on accident that no expansion team has ever made the playoffs, and the league is getting more and more difficult every year. I think that they should've given Jason a chance to really implement what he was trying to do with his players and his tactics and his team. Not only do I think he deserved it, I think he would've been beneficial for the club. But, that's just my opinion."

Wingert said he noticed how surprised most around the league were over Kreis' firing, which leads him to believe that if and when Kreis wants to get back into coaching, he will have no shortage of options.

"I think there's going to be a ton of teams this next foreseeable future that are dying to have Jason take over their club," Wingert said. "I'm sure if that's what he wants to do, then he'll land somewhere and do a great job at whatever club he ends up at."

» Hammerheads on their way

RSL will face the Wilmington Hammerheads of USL in its fourth-round U.S. Open Cup matchup on Tuesday, June 14, at 8 p.m. at Rio Tinto Stadium. Wilmington, where RSL midfielder Luke Mulholland started his professional career, defeated Miami FC of the NASL 2-1 Wednesday night at FIU Stadium in Miami.

The Open Cup match will be the first back home for RSL on its new pitch after this six-week road trip around the country. RSL and Wilmington have some Open Cup history, too. RSL topped the Hammerheads 2-0 in July 2011. That game featured Tony Beltran's lone goal as a professional.

» MLS selected to start trials on video replay testing in matches

On Thursday, MLS was announced to be participating in developing and testing FIFA's new video assistant referee initiative. The league's statement said MLS will will closely with the Professional Referees Organization and the USL to implement tests as necessary with trials starting in USL this summer.

A breakdown of how the video assistant referee set up will work, according to FIFA.

-Chris Kamrani

Twitter: @chriskamrani