Toronto, ON – Toronto FC will attempt to extend its unbeaten run in league play to four games when it welcomes Real Salt Lake to BMO Field on Saturday.
The Reds have taken five points from their last three contests, a stretch that was highlighted by a come-from-behind victory at D.C. United on June 15 followed by a scoreless draw with the Houston Dynamo at BBVA Compass Stadium.
The road point against Houston marked Toronto's first clean sheet of the season, a result that head coach Ryan Nelsen hopes will spark a solid run of form for the Canadian club.
"I think with our performances over the course of the season, we should have had four or five clean sheets by now," Nelsen told MLSsoccer.com. "I think we have been putting in pretty good defensive performances and nobody has really run over the top of us in any game. However, those performances have to result in points and we have to turn them into product.
"I think the guys can really grow from this result. They have always had belief, but it is good that their belief and their performances are now turning into points."
While Toronto's unbeaten run still only leaves the club second from bottom in the Eastern Conference on 12 points, Real Salt Lake's five straight matches without defeat has catapulted the Claret and Cobalt into a tie with the Portland Timbers for the top spot in the West on 30 points apiece.
Salt Lake is coming off of a four-game homestand from which it managed 10 points, scoring nine goals while conceding just two over that stretch.
Kyle Beckerman played a starring role in RSL's most recent outing, a 2-0 defeat of Seattle Sounders FC. Not only did the 31-year-old produce the opening goal of the match, but he did the little things to help give Real Salt Lake the edge.
"He won everything," defender Nat Borchers told reporters after the win. "He was on the right side winning balls; he was on the left side winning balls. He was always in the right spots and always composed on the ball. When you have a guy like that, a leader like that who brings his 'A' game, we're not going to lose games."
Beckerman has been a mainstay in the Real Salt Lake team since his arrival in 2007. The squad experienced something of an overhaul during the offseason, but Beckerman's leadership has allowed for the continuity necessary for RSL to climb to the top of the Supporters' Shield table.
"I think the foundation has been there," Beckerman said. "We had to put in a lot of hard work, and the coaches have to do a heck of a job laying a foundation here.
"I think the biggest thing about that is having a winning mentality since 2007, when we turned it around. We just continue to try to build off that foundation. Whether we bring in new players, young players, old players - I think when the guys see what we've done in the past couple of years, they want to buy into this. When we bring in new guys, it's easy to integrate them to what we're about here."