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Rapids-Real Salt Lake Preview
By TOM CASTRO
(AP) -- After a desperately needed victory, Real Salt Lake suffered a crucial loss its last time out. A matchup with the struggling Colorado Rapids might be just what the club needs to move past that stinging defeat.
Salt Lake faces the Rapids on Saturday night looking to push both its overall and home unbeaten streaks in the series to eight.
RSL (11-3-7) has gone 1-4-1 since a hot start had it in a tight battle with San Jose for the Western Conference lead. That's no longer the case, as Salt Lake has dropped seven points behind the surging Earthquakes.
RSL broke a four-game winless streak with a 3-0 victory over Portland on July 7 and had a chance to take over the MLS lead in San Jose last Saturday, but fell 5-0 in the second-worst loss in team history. The Earthquakes went on to increase their lead over second-place Salt Lake with a win over FC Dallas on Wednesday.
Salt Lake gave up four goals after captain Kyle Beckerman received a red card in the 57th minute for fouling Sam Cronin in retaliation for the midfielder's challenge on Javier Morales. Now Beckerman, with four goals on the season, won't be available against his former team as he serves an automatic one-game suspension.
"Anytime you have to sit out, it's a bummer," Beckerman told the team's official website. "I'm just trying to get past this as fast as possible, get the boys ready for this week. Hopefully, we can get a win on Saturday."
RSL appears to have a very good chance of doing so, despite having been shut out in three of its last four games. The Rapids have lost four in a row and six of seven, and Salt Lake has gone 3-0-4 in the last seven overall matchups - posting three straight clean sheets - and 5-0-2 in the previous seven home meetings.
Colorado fell 2-1 at Toronto FC on Wednesday, its third consecutive defeat by that score, and all of its last six losses have been by one goal. Conor Casey opened the scoring for the Rapids, but they lost for the fourth time this season when getting the first goal, second in the league to expansion Montreal's five.
"We don't have time to feel sorry for ourselves; we have to move on as there is no time to regret," coach Oscar Pareja said. "We have a game (Saturday) and that is the mindset we have currently."
Pareja's club has had a very busy schedule lately and will be playing for the sixth time in 22 days.
"First and foremost, we need to rest up and get our legs back and make sure we are physically ready to go," Casey said. "That is where the main focus is now and we will think about the rest of it once game day comes."
Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando can move into sole possession of second place on the all-time wins list with his 132nd on Saturday.
Updated July 20, 2012