FRANKFURT – Real Salt Lake came away with two wins and a draw during a three-game stretch at home, but it's been quite a while since it earned three points away from Rio Tinto Stadium.
Visiting the Vancouver Whitecaps could be all it takes to change that.
RSL looks for its first road victory since early April on Saturday afternoon against the last-place Whitecaps, who will be eager to avoid a fifth consecutive loss.
The league's best home team in 2009 and 2010, Salt Lake (8-3-6) has again been solid on its own turf, earning 21 of a possible 30 points at Rio Tinto Stadium.
After beating Toronto and drawing 3-3 with New England to begin a three-game stint at home, RSL came away with three more critical points when FC Dallas visited last Saturday. Andy Williams scored on a free kick just after halftime, and Fabian Espindola added a goal in stoppage time to give RSL a 2-0 victory over one of the teams it's chasing in the Western Conference.
"We stated before the game that this was a huge match for us,'' Salt Lake coach Jason Kreis said. "Probably the biggest we have had this season against what I think is arguably the team that's in the best form right now. A positive result. It doesn't matter to me the score. To get all three points against them was big for us.''
The teams met again Tuesday in a U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal match in Texas, where Dallas knocked the tournament's reigning champions out with a 2-0 victory.
RSL hasn't exactly thrived on the road in league competition, either. It began the year with wins at San Jose and New England, but is 0-2-3 away from home since April 9 and has scored only two goals in that stretch.
For Salt Lake, which beat the Whitecaps 2-0 at home June 4 behind goals from Espindola and Jean-Michel Alexandre, Empire Field might be the perfect place for it to snap the road drought.
Vancouver (2-10-8) has lost its last four games after falling 2-1 at Colorado last Saturday, a game it played without leading scorer Eric Hassli (sprained ankle), midfielder Shea Salinas (red-card suspension), midfielder Russel Teibert (hip), captain Jay DeMerit (groin), striker Atiba Harris (knee) and midfielder Davide Chiumiento (hamstring).
"I can't fault our group because we have so many young guys playing with so many veterans out,'' coach Tom Soehn said. "We got punished for their goals, but I think we are getting close and just need to keep plugging away.''
Hassli and Chiumiento are probable to return Saturday while Teibert is questionable, but Vancouver may get another boost up front. The Whitecaps on Tuesday signed Mustapha Jarju, making the Gambian striker the first African-born designated player in MLS.
It's unclear if Jarju will be able to play Saturday as Vancouver awaits his international transfer certificate.