Frisco, TX – Real Salt Lake will try to end a streak of futility at FC Dallas on Saturday, but the club will be doing so without a handful of key players.
International matches will rob many MLS teams of star players this weekend, but RSL has been hit harder than most.
Salt Lake enters Saturday's match with a record of 0-8-2 all time at FC Dallas, and head coach Jason Kreis will be missing captain Kyle Beckerman, defenders Tony Beltran and Abdoulie Mansally, goalkeeper Nick Rimando and forward Alvaro Saborio.
Josh Saunders will likely start in place of Rimando in the Salt Lake goal, but finding someone who can score goals is a bigger concern for Kreis.
The club has managed only one goal in its last two games, and with Saborio not in the lineup on Saturday, Kreis will hope to get some production from Robbie Findley.
Findley returned to RSL over the winter, but he has yet to score a goal or contribute an assist in the first three games for the Claret and Cobalt.
"I think Robbie just needs to remember to find the right gaps where he can be the most effective and typically that's trying to find gaps between center backs," Kreis said after his team's 1-1 draw with Colorado last weekend. "I feel like today he did a good job at that, and that he got himself into really good spots in the first half, but unfortunately he really should have finished. So I think we just build on it and say that today was better than last week and we hope that next week will be better than this week."
If Findley can find his form it will be a big boost for a Salt Lake side that is looking for a lift after claiming one point from its previous two games.
But Kreis feels good about the attitude his players showed after their last match.
"Going into the locker room it's absolutely silent; it's as though we lost 3-0," the coach said in reference to the Colorado draw. "Our guys want more, they expect more and I think that's a good thing to have."
Dallas is coming into the game having won two of its first three matches, including a 3-2 victory over the rival Houston Dynamo last time out that saw Kenny Cooper score the winning goal in the 90th minute.
Cooper's return to Dallas this offseason was a major source for optimism after he scored 40 goals in 90 games in his first stint with the club.
And head coach Schellas Hyndman is hoping that Cooper's winning goal against Houston, which was his first of the season, will help to bring back the old Cooper.
"I think we all want to find the Kenny that left here," said Hyndman. "That's the Kenny we remember and that's the Kenny that we worked awfully hard to get back. I think we are only going to see more and more out of Kenny."
Cooper will play a major role yet again on Saturday considering that fellow forwards Blas Perez and Je-Vaughn Watson will be away on international duty as well as goalkeeper Raul Fernandez.