RSL travels to Atlanta to take on the Silverbacks of the North American Soccer League Saturday night as the team opens U.S. Open Cup play.
Despite the fact Atlanta is an NASL team, Real is still taking the Silverbacks seriously.
"I've played in that division," said goalkeeper Jeff Attinella. "I've played in Atlanta a lot. It's a tough place to get a win. They're going to have a really good crowd there, and if we approach this any other way, then we're going to have a wake up call."
"It's going to be a difficult scenario going into their home stadium," added defender Tony Beltran. "It's going to be a hostile environment, and they're going to be flying, so we're going to have to equal their intensity and just play smart."
Atlanta took RSL to overtime in the U.S. Open Cup last year before Real finally put the Silverbacks away, 3-2.
"There's no easy game in Open Cup," said defender Nat Borchers. "We've had teams come here and beat us, and going on the road is even tougher. So, it's going to be a great challenge for us."
"The fans are great there," added head coach Jeff Cassar. "It holds 5,000 people. It's going to be intense. They're coming into the league in a couple years, so they're going to try and show they have the same passion as MLS teams do."
While this will be the biggest match of the season for Atlanta, the U.S. Open Cup represents the best and easiest way for RSL to qualify for Champions League. Last year, RSL made it all the way to the Cup Final, only to lose to D.C. United, a loss that still stings to this day.
"You look around the locker room after that game, and we all knew we should have won that game," said Beltran. "So, of course, we want to get back there and have that opportunity again."
RSL is coming off a tough two-week stretch in which they went 0-2-2 and suffered more injuries, including a hip flexor injury to Ned Grabavoy, who will miss the next two weeks.
"We have a lot to work on," said Cassar. "We've had a lot of injuries and a lot of players absences. So, those are excuses, but we have to get better."
"It was a really tough week results wise and just everything involved with the injuries and traveling," said Attinella. "So, if we can get a result, we'll feel good about ourselves leaving Atlanta."
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