Real Salt Lake boss Pablo Mastroeni is proud of how his players have performed throughout their first 15 games of the MLS season, insisting his team’s loss at the Vancouver Whitecaps last time out was undeserved.

Salt Lake is third in the Western Conference and has won five of its six home matches during an encouraging start to the campaign, but fell to defeat after being reduced to 10 men in Canada.

And Mastroeni thinks his side is in a good position to attack the second half of the MLS season as it prepares to host the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday.

“It’s been a really interesting time for the group, starting in preseason,” he said. “I think we haven’t made a big deal about all the scenarios that have been thrown our way. We’ve just been able to, as a group, find a way to overcome difficult circumstances. It obviously didn’t feel good going into the break with this result, but the performance I think was a reflection of the group.”

The Earthquakes, meanwhile, are 13th in the Western Conference standings after winning just three games all season, though midfielder Jamiro Monteiro has impressed with three goals and five assists since joining at the start of the season.

Monteiro is looking forward to his first trip to Salt Lake City, and says he isn’t paying any attention to the hosts’ strong results.

“I think it will be my first game against them,” he said. “But what I know about them is that they always have a good team, they’re always doing well in the standings. But that will not stop me. Every week is a challenge for me and for the team.

“We’re going there with the same mindset, win the game, give everything, and work for each other.”

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Real Salt Lake – Sergio Cordova

The Augsburg loanee has three goals to his name this season, dove-tailing well with strike partner Bobby Wood (also three goals). The powerful Venezuelan could relish playing against the fragile Earthquakes, and will hope to find the net for the in-form hosts.

San Jose Earthquakes – Jamiro Monteiro

The Dutchman has been crucial to San Jose’s efforts so far this term, recording five goal contributions (three goals, two assists) in his last five MLS outings, and will hope to provide another creative spark in this contest.

KEY OPTA FACTS

– Each of the last two meetings between Real Salt Lake and San Jose ended 4-3, with each side winning one of those on the road. No matchup in MLS history has seen at least seven goals scored in three straight meetings.

– Real Salt Lake has won 12 of its last 15 home MLS matches (D1 L2), including five of six this season (D1). Since this run began in late July 2021, no team has earned more points per match at home than Real Salt Lake in MLS (2.47).

– The Earthquakes have lost only one of their last six games (W2 D3) following a scoreless draw against Nashville on Saturday. San Jose have repeated a result in consecutive matches only once all season, losing two straight games on March 12 and 19.

– Justin Meram scored his 50th regular-season goal in Real Salt Lake’s defeat at Vancouver on June 4. Meram did so in his 309th MLS appearance. Only Brad Davis (320) played more games before reaching the 50 regular-season goal mark in MLS history.