SANDY — A comfortable stretch of home games comes to an end Wednesday evening for Real Salt Lake when the New York Red Bulls visit the Wasatch Front for the lone meeting of the season between the two clubs.
“Really excited about this game,” said RSL coach Jeff Cassar. “A nationally televised game against the Red Bulls, and they’re a team that we’re really excited to go match up against. They’re a dangerous team, given time and space. Their movement is fantastic. They also have the leading scorer in the league, which we have to be extremely mindful of.”
In the confines of Rio Tinto Stadium, RSL has topped the Red Bulls in four consecutive matches, netting eight goals and recording four straight shutouts in the process.
Wednesday’s match also brings some familiar faces back to Salt Lake. Jamison Olave returns to Utah for the first time since a 2012 trade sent the defender to New York. Former RSL assistant coach Robin Fraser also returns to Salt Lake on the opposing staff.
It’s a mixture of emotions, admitted RSL midfielder Ned Grabavoy, who intends to welcome Olave back with open arms until the first whistle blows.
“I hope he’s given a pretty warm welcome from the fans. He certainly deserves it for everything he’s done for this club,” said Grabavoy. “But once the game kicks off he’s on the other team unfortunately, so it will be interesting.”
RSL is coming off a 3-1 victory over Montreal and has a quick turnaround Saturday in a clash against Rocky Mountain rival Colorado. That will be three games in 10 days, but Cassar admitted the confidence is there and he has also been impressed with the intensity and quality at training this week.
“It’s good. The spirit has been great,” said Cassar. “The guys had the weekend off to recharge their batteries, and training has been great this week thus far. So expect us to be fresh, full of energy and passion and hopefully we’ll have an unbelievable crowd that will spur us on.”
FIVE IN A ROW?: RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando has been stellar between the posts at home versus the Red Bulls. Rimando has four consecutive shutouts at Rio Tinto against New York, including nine saves in those four games. A fifth clean sheet in a row would give Rimando shutout No. 112, tying him with Kevin Hartman’s all-time MLS record. Rimando’s last shutout was a 1-0 win over Portland back on April 19.
The match will be broadcast on ESPN 2.