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Storylines to Watch: RSL v. Vancouver Whitecaps FC

17 July 4:52 pm

Storylines to Watch: RSL v. Vancouver Whitecaps FC

By Jane Sexton

Real Salt Lake kicks off its three-game homestand on Saturday, hosting Vancouver Whitecaps FC at Rio Tinto Stadium at 8:00 p.m. MT.

Here are a few storylines to watch ahead of Saturday’s clash:

Real Salt Lake looks to capitalize on upcoming homestand

The Claret-and-Cobalt enters Saturday’s match coming off another disappointing road result – a 1-0 loss at LA Galaxy on July 12. RSL has been in a bit of a summer slump, registering just one win in its last seven matches in MLS play. With the Claret-and-Cobalt playing five of the next six matches at home, the Utah club will be looking to capitalize on its home field advantage and collect as many points as possible before heading into the final stretch of the season – just two points separate second-place RSL and fifth-place FC Dallas which occupies the last playoff spot. Real Salt Lake is 4-1-3 at home this year, and posts a successful all-time home record, going 77-32-41 in MLS regular-season play during 10 seasons on Utah soil, and outscoring opponents 246-146.

Nick Rimando in pursuit of the all-time MLS shutout record

Real Salt Lake veteran goalkeeper Nick Rimando is one clean sheet away from tying retired goalkeeper Kevin Hartman for the all-time MLS shutout record with 112. If the 35-year-old ties the record this weekend, Rimando will have as many cleans sheets as Hartman in 59-less games. Hartman achieved 112 shutouts through 416 games played; Rimando has currently played 356 MLS regular season games. The California native will likely surpass the record this year, with 16 MLS matches left to play in the 2014 regular season.

Real Salt Lake looks to snap recent scoring drought

Real Salt Lake has found goals hard to come by in its last seven matches in MLS, recording only four goals in that time frame. With last Saturday’s 1-0 shutout at LA, RSL has now gone 337 minutes without scoring a goal from open play. The last time a goal was scored from open play was when RSL midfielder Luke Mulholland found the back of the net in the 23rd minute of the Claret-and-Cobalt’s 3-1 loss to Portland Timbers on June 7 at Rio Tinto Stadium. Real Salt Lake has also suffered four shutouts in its last seven MLS matches.

Real Salt Lake got off to a fantastic start to the season, scoring 23 goals through its first 11 matches. But with international absences (World Cup) and injuries (Saborio broken foot), the Claret-and-Cobalt has struggled to score consistently.

Will lightning strike twice on Saturday?

Real Salt Lake will have some bitter memories heading into Saturday’s tilt with Vancouver. The last time the two sides met on April 26 at Rio Tinto Stadium, Vancouver staged a wild two-goal comeback in the final minutes of the match to snatch what looked like a sure win from RSL to draw 2-2. The Claret-and-Cobalt jump out to an early lead through goals from forwards Joao Plata and Alvaro Saborio, but RSL was unable to hold onto the lead, allowing Vancouver to score in the 86th and 94th minutes. The Claret-and-Cobalt has made late goals a bit of a habit this year, so Saturday’s contest will be a great chance to demonstrate that the club has learned from its early season mistakes and it can close out matches.