Real Salt Lake faces Tigres tomorrow in the second leg of the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal, and it's bound to be a tight, nervy affair.
But the feeling around the team seems to be more cautiously optimistic than fatalistic, with some very good moments in the first leg standing out as reason to retain that position.
In an interview after training Tuesday, RSL coach Jeff Cassar said they've been scouting Tigres, and that some of their matches have given some reason for optimism.
"I think we can learn a lot from their final with Pumas, where they won 3-0 at home, then Pumas came back and tied it up 3-3 at their field.," Cassar said. "We're going to get our opportunities tomorrow, and it's going to be important that we put those away. Also, just as important, is making sure they don't get a goal."
There's a balance to strike, and that's the job Cassar is tasked with ahead of the tie.
"We have to make sure we're putting ourselves in positions to score," he said. "We're going to get our chances, it's just making sure we put them away, and really picking the times that we can really get at them."
Despite RSL needing two goals to even be back in contention, Cassar emphasized the need to keep a conservative mindset at times.
"We can't throw caution to the wind at the very beginning of the game and leave us exposed, because Tigres has the talent to make us pay for it," he said.
RSL captain Kyle Beckerman recognized that fact, but was also optimistic about RSL's ability to create opportunities.
"It's a huge mountain, for sure, but we feel like we can do it if things go our way and we play our best," Beckerman said. "We know what's got to be done, we've got to score two goals and keep them from scoring, but one at a time, and we'll see if we can get back in the game."
Beckerman also emphasized that Tigres aren't invincible, and that chance creation in that match showed that.
"It's going to be a really tough game for us," he said. "They're extremely talented all over the field, dangerous all over. We're going to have be aware of all those things. We got some chances last week, so if we can do better with our chances this time, we can turn the tide."
Cassar said he expects a high-energy crowd at Rio Tinto Stadium, and that it will could make a crucial difference for the team.
"It's been a long time since they've seen a game — longer than usual," he said. "The excitement's building up for this game. Our state, our city, and our fans all love this tournament. It brings a lot of attention and flavor to Rio Tinto. We're going to need it. We want to put ourselves in a position so at the end of this game we can feed off the energy of our fans and really have a lot of excitement right at the end of the game."