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Real Salt Lake: Tying MLS history doesn't have RSL excited

Published May 26, 2014 2:01 pm

MLS • Real would rather focus on facing Seattle than on unbeaten streak.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Sandy • Ned Grabavoy was caught off guard a few weeks back as chatter of Real Salt Lake's unbeaten streak continually increased. After RSL's dramatic 3-2 win at Chicago ran the record to spotless through nine weeks, the RSL midfielder was surprised the streak was being talked about.

Following the club's 5-2 drubbing of Houston on the road a week later, the same.

And how about the jabber now having a pinch of validation since this particular RSL side is officially scrawled into Major League Soccer history books having started a season with 12 consecutive results?

"Now that we're there," Grabavoy said Saturday night after RSL's 0-0 home draw with FC Dallas, "I actually think less of it."

The record is 6-0-6 with the club earning results — wins or draws — in each of its first 12 outings. The streak has extended past the first third of the 34-game MLS season and has catapulted the club to 24 points, two shy of league-leading Seattle. RSL hasn't lost a match just yet, but after being shut out for the first time since April 5 at Sporting Kansas City, the consensus around the team is that results are great, but improvements need to be made.

Tying an MLS record isn't much of a concern considering a date with the Sounders at CenturyLink Field in downtown Seattle looms this Saturday afternoon.

"I honestly don't really care," said defender Chris Wingert. "I just am concerned with earning points. Usually, when we don't earn three [points] at home, we're a bit disappointed. Then we know we have a big week coming up, so now 100 percent focus on Seattle. It should be a fun one and we know how well they have been playing, so it's a big challenge for us."

The talk of the streak hasn't had many endorsements in the weeks since RSL approached the opportunity to tie the longest unbeaten start to a season. With RSL facing another Western Conference rival in Seattle, don't expect much to change. If anything, RSL has often taken the route of avoiding patting itself on the back.

"We've obviously got some luck as well," Grabavoy said. "You're not going to go 12 games straight unbeaten without some luck, some calls going your way, some bounces going your way."

Luck and skill and effectiveness in stretches has RSL in second place in the West, six points clear of third place FC Dallas and Colorado. But with three difficult matches in a seven-day span upcoming, the examination of remaining unbeaten won't be given much credence.

Still, RSL is now part of history with the 1996 and 2010 L.A. Galaxy teams as well as the 2000 Kansas City Wizards to start an MLS season unbeaten through its first 12 games.

"It shows that no matter what, we're going to fight, even if our soccer is good or bad, we're going to go out and get a result," said RSL coach Jeff Cassar. "Our goal is always three points, but if we take a point, we'll take it and move on."

ckamrani@sltrib.com

Twitter: @chriskamrani —

Donovan breaks MLS record

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Donovan broke a tie with Jeff Cunningham with his first goal in four games this season.

The Associated Press