Real Salt Lake vs. Chicago Fire | MLS Match Preview

REAL SALT LAKE vs CHICAGO FIRE

RIO TINTO STADIUM, Sandy, Utah

May 25, 2013 (WEEK 13, MLS Game #118)
7 p.m. MT (KUCW; My50 Chi)

Having steadily moved up the Western Conference table, Real Salt Lake return home to take on the Chicago Fire on Saturday evening at Rio Tinto Stadium. Real now sit in second place in the West, coming off a 4-1 road win at Chivas USA last weekend. The Fire haven’t scored in three-plus games, coming off the second of back-to-back 1-0 losses to Philadelphia Union last weekend on the road.

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REFEREE: Chris Penso. AR1 (bench): Mike Rottersman; AR2 (opposite): Jeremy Hanson; 4th: Ricardo Salazar
MLS Career: 37 games; FC/gm: 23.4; Y/gm: 2.8; R: 8; pens: 13

DISABLED LIST: none
SUSPENDED: CHI: Wells Thompson (through May 26)
WARNINGS:
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: CHI: Daniel Paladini
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: RSL: Ned Grabavoy, Lovel Palmer
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: CHI: Victor Pineda (U.S. U-20)

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (15 meetings): Real 3 wins, 9 goals … Fire 6 wins, 17 goals … Ties 6
AT SALT LAKE (7 meetings): Real 2 wins, 6 goals … Fire 3 wins, 11 goals … Ties 2

LAST YEAR (MLS)
5/9: CHI 0, RSL 0

  • This is the only meeting of the season between the two clubs.
  • Real Salt Lake have not scored in three consecutive league matches vs. Chicago, over the last two seasons, a pair of scoreless draws and a 3-0 Fire win in 2011 at Rio Tinto Stadium.
  • Before that, Chicago had not scored in three consecutive matches vs. RSL, including the 2009 Eastern Conference Championship at Toyota Park, which Real won on penalty kicks after a scoreless draw over 120 minutes.
  • Coaches record: Jason Kreis vs. CHI: P11 W2 L3 D6 … Frank Klopas vs. RSL: P3 W1 L0 D2

REAL SALT LAKE
Real Salt Lake concluded their three-match road swing with a second victory, rolling to a 4-1 victory against Chivas USA on Sunday evening at The Home Depot Center. RSL sits in second place in the Western Conference with 20 points from 13 games.

LAST MATCH

  • RSL was ahead after just three minutes. Picking up a mishit pass from Javier Morales, Ned Grabavoy raced forward with nothing but space ahead of him, took it almost to the box, then slotted it inside the left post.
  • Joao Plata made it 2-0 a little more than two minutes after the break. Aaron Ponce's chipped pass in midfield caromed off Kyle Beckerman's head and behind the Chivas backline, and Plata raced toward the Chivas box with Steve Purdy in pursuit, then fired inside the right post.
  • Chivas pulled a goal back in the 55th minute. Edgar Mejia sent a looping cross into the 6-yard box from the right flank and Jose Villafaña got his head to it, looping it back over RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando and inside the right post.
  • RSL ended all suspense in the 78th minute as substitute Robbie Findley finished a Yordany Alvarez feed from a corner at the left post after it was misplayed by Chivas midfielder Walter Vilchez.
  • The rout was complete in stoppage time when Grabavoy slotted home his second on yet another counter and another breakaway, finishing inside the right-hand post.
  • RSL head coach Jason Kreis made five changes to the team that lost 3-2 to the Montréal Impact at Stade Saputo. Tony Beltran, Carlos Salcedo and Nat Borchers came into the back four in place of Lovel Palmer, Kwame Watson-Siriboe and Chris Schuler, Luis Gil started in midfield for Sebastian Velasquez, and Joao Plata came into the attack for Olmes Garcia.
  • REAL SALT LAKE (4-1-3-2): Nick Rimando - Tony Beltran, Carlos Salcedo, Nat Borchers, Chris Wingert - Kyle Beckerman - Luis Gil (Khari Stephenson 84), Javier Morales, Ned Grabavoy - Joao Plata (Yordany Alvarez 73), Devon Sandoval (Robbie Findley 63).

TEAM NEWS

  • After winning twice in the opening seven games of the season, Real have now won four of their last six matches.
  • “This should be our time. It starts with what we did tonight and we look to roll forward with positive momentum for four home games in a row,” said RSL head coach Jason Kreis. “We need to get on a roll here and get things going.”
  • For the second time in as many matches vs. Chivas USA at The Home Depot Center, RSL scored four goals. The last time, last Sept. 29, was also the last time Real scored four goals in a game.
  • “Some of the tactics they’re taking and some of the choices that they’re making with their over-aggressive style. What it does is it opens up a lot of spaces behind them and if you think about our goals tonight, I think they got punished for some of those decisions,” said Kreis. “On a different line and maybe with some more time together for the group they could be really dangerous without the aggressive mentality.”
  • “I think we are creating a lot of chances. Goals change games and if you look at it, with the chances we created we have put ourselves in a position not to just tie games but to find three points on the road,” said midfielder Ned Grabavoy.
  • Days after his wife gave birth to twins, Grabavoy celebrated with the first two-goal game of his MLS career. They were Grabavoy’s first goals in league play since 2010; he has scored 10 goals total in his 10-year MLS career.
  • “Ned is a guy that has just been doing so much for us this beginning quarter of this season. [He’s a] guy that I feel, when you think about the stats that he has had over his years, I always think that he should have more goals than he does,” said Kreis. "So we’ve been challenging him with that over the past week or two. I’m really, really pleased to see him get two goals tonight, and especially that first one.”
  • Robbie Findley made his first appearance since April 27, coming on for the final half-hour, and scored his second goal since his return to MLS.
  • “Being away from home, especially, we don’t have many opportunities to put a few away. It’s always important,” said Findley. “It does give us confidence but now we are focused in this week, getting back home and doing the same thing.”

READ: Nick Rimando wins the MLS Save of the Week award for Week 12

CHICAGO FIRE
The Chicago Fire lost for a third consecutive match and the second weekend in a row to Philadelphia Union, again losing by a 1-0 scoreline, this time on Saturday afternoon at PPL Park. The Fire are in a tie for eighth place in the Eastern Conference with 7 points from 10 matches.

LAST MATCH

  • The game's only goal came after just three minutes. After a corner kick was partially cleared, it was sent back out wide to Sebastien Le Toux, who then delivered a perfect, low cross that found the head of a streaking Jack McInerney at the edge of the six-yard box at the far post.
  • Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath finished with six saves to earn his second consecutive 1-0 shutout win against Chicago.
  • Fire head coach Frank Klopas made one change to the team that dropped a 1-0 decision to Philadelphia Union at Toyota Park. Jeff Larentowicz came back into the team for Daniel Paladini.
  • CHICAGO FIRE (4-1-4-1): Sean Johnson - Wells Thompson (sent off 63), Austin Berry, Jalil Anibaba, Gonzalo Segares - Logan Pause - Dilly Duka (Quincy Amarikwa 81), Chris Rolfe (Sherjill MacDonald 53), Jeff Larentowicz, Joel Lindpere (Alex 75) - Patrick Nyarko.

READ: Philadelphia Union make it official, deal Bakary Soumare back to Chicago Fire

TEAM NEWS

  • The Fire saw their goalless drought extended to 277 minutes with the second of back-to-back 1-0 losses to Philadelphia. The scoreless streak is fourth longest in MLS this season, and the ninth longest in Fire club history.
  • “You come on the road and you have to take advantage of your chances and keep it tight, and don’t give up a goal,” said Fire head coach Frank Klopas. “We gave up the early one but I felt the rest of the game we did well and obviously you played shorthanded and we tried whatever we could to push the game. We had some tired guys that worked hard, we tried different things, we tried to get the goal back but it didn’t work.”
  • The Fire have now been shut out in six of their 10 league games this season. Their six goals scored are tied for fewest in MLS, along with D.C. United.
  • “We expected more out of ourselves,” Berry said. “We've just got to keep working hard. We've got to use that pressure to build into our performances.”
  • “I think first half we dropped off a little bit too deep. I felt Jeff [Larentowicz] was dropping too deep where we could push up a little bit higher, especially putting a little more pressure on [Brian] Carroll, instead of having Chris [Rolfe] or Patrick [Nyarko] come deeper, so we addressed that,” said Klopas.
  • Patrick Nyarko started a second consecutive match as the spearhead striker in the Fire attack, with Dilly Duka making second consecutive start in a wide midfield role.
  • After a match out of the team completely, Sherjill MacDonald came off the substitutes’ bench for the final 37 minutes against Union.
  • “I think the thing we talked about was our ability to play more on the flanks because they do a pretty good job of inviting pressure in the middle where they keep numbers,” said Klopas. “Then they are good on transition so our ability to look to switch the point of attack and look to see if we can attack more out on the flanks and be a little more direct and obviously we talked about not giving up any goals, but it didn’t work out that way.”
  • After missing a match through suspension, Jeff Larentowicz returned to the center of the Fire midfield.
  • “I think that we have to regroup; we’ve got another tough game ahead. Right now we feel bad but as the time goes by you’ve got to start thinking ahead… Right now it’s not a good feeling but I can guarantee you after an hour, two hours, as time goes by we can’t wait to get back on the field and start working and start thinking about the next opponent,” said Klopas.