Rio Tinto Stadium has provided a better home-field edge than any other stadium over the past three seasons, so it's no surprise Real Salt Lake has taken advantage of five straight games there.

Salt Lake tries to finish off that stretch with a fourth victory Saturday night against the Columbus Crew.

RSL has gone 27-2-12 at Rio Tinto Stadium since 2009, and it was set up for a run toward the top of the Western Conference with five of its next six matches at home starting June 25.

As it turns out, it's wound up with a five-game homestand thanks to a postponement from a July 16 date at Vancouver due to an unplayable field.

So far, so good. Only a 3-all draw against New England on July 4 has prevented Salt Lake (9-3-6) from winning the first four matches, and it's outscored opponents 6-0 in a pair of wins since then after drubbing San Jose 4-0 last Saturday.

Despite that apparent dominance, coach Jason Kreis sees plenty of room for growth.

"I feel that we've been improving every single match for five or six matches," Kreis said. "But we're still looking for 90 minutes of good play. Tonight, for me, it was 45 maybe 55."

RSL is 3-0-4 in its last seven overall, and on Saturday it'll get a chance to avenge its last loss. Columbus (8-6-7) overcame a late one-goal deficit against Salt Lake on June 8 at Crew Stadium, using a 76th-minute penalty kick from Andrew Mendoza and an 83rd-minute strike from Josh Gardner to rally for a 2-1 victory.

Avoiding another late breakdown might be tough for RSL without Jamison Olave. The reigning MLS defender of the year left Wednesday's All-Star game with a knee injury after a slide tackle of Manchester United's Wayne Rooney.

He was diagnosed with a sprained MCL and will miss Saturday's game.

Fortunately for Salt Lake, Columbus is hardly an offensive juggernaut away from Crew Stadium. It's totaled six goals in 10 road matches.

The Crew have only scored one goal in their past three matches overall, but that was enough last Saturday. Eddie Gaven broke his team's 259-minute drought with a goal in the 79th minute, lifting Columbus past Portland 1-0.

Consistency, however, has been a problem. The Crew have only won back-to-back games once, though they're still in a tight three-way race atop the East with Philadelphia and New York.

"I think we've shown that we can be a really good team," Gaven told the team's official website. "I don't think we've shown that every game, and that's the next challenge for this team. We have to show it every night."

That might be a tough level to get to without two key pieces. Striker Andres Mendoza, who has a team-high seven goals, is likely out Saturday with a hamstring strain, while a quad injury is expected to sideline goalkeeper Will Hesmer.

Backup Andy Gruenebaum, who played against Portland, will start in Hesmer's place. He was sent off in Tuesday's 3-0 friendly loss to Newcastle United.