ROME (AP) – Real Salt Lake may not be thrilled with its overall play, but a solid mark at home has helped the club get off to a decent start.
Winning on the road has been a challenge for the New England Revolution in recent years.
RSL seeks its fourth consecutive home victory when it looks to extend a four-game unbeaten streak over New England on Saturday night.
Salt Lake (6-3-1) went 0-2-1 in three straight road games April 14-25, but it bounced back with a 3-2 win over visiting Toronto last Saturday, getting a goal from Jonny Steele in the third minute of stoppage time after blowing a pair of leads.
Coach Jason Kreis stressed the importance of winning on home turf.
"When we're at home, we go for three points, and nothing less is acceptable," Kreis told the league's official website.
Captain Kyle Beckerman had a goal and assisted on the winner last weekend for RSL, which will play three of its next four on the road after Saturday's match.
Defender Nat Borchers said the club is still in good position despite struggling at times.
"Almost a third of the way through the season - we're in a great position for how we've played," Borchers said. "I think we'd like to be more consistent with our home games. We've given up a lot more goals than we're used to, so the focus this week has been defending. We haven't peaked out early in the season."
Salt Lake hasn't lost to New England since a 3-1 defeat Aug. 23, 2009, winning three straight before playing to a 3-all draw in the most recent meeting July 4.
The Revolution (3-5-0) may have a difficult time ending that drought.
New England is 1-4-0 on the road this season, getting shut out in each of the defeats. Since the start of 2010, the Revolution are a dismal 4-24-9 in MLS play away from home, getting outscored 73-35 in that span.
New England, though, ended a three-game overall losing streak Wednesday with a 2-1 home win over Colorado.
Matt Reis became the sixth goalkeeper in MLS history to earn 100 career victories and was happy the pressure to reach the milestone has been lifted.
"It's kind of a relief," Reis said. "It's something that, the last three games, it's been there in the back of my mind but it's finally a hurdle to get over and focus on the rest of the season."
Saer Sene scored his team-leading third goal to end New England's 199-minute scoreless drought, then assisted on Fernando Cardenas' winner. Coach Jay Heaps said he wanted to rest Sene a bit given the quick turnaround from Wednesday to Saturday, but he said he needed one of his most promising players on the field during the tight contest.
"(Sene) is someone I did not want to go 90 (minutes)," Heaps said. "He's a unique player. You don't really see a lot of players like him. He drifts, he comes in to play, but he's always dangerous.
"I just think there's more there even. I think you see some spots of brilliance and there's more. I see more in training sometimes, so there's a good upside."