Preview: Western foes Chivas, RSL tangle on Fox Soccer

Chivas USA and Real Salt Lake renew a rivalry founded in 2005 when the clubs face off for a second time this season Saturday at The Home Depot Center. Chivas USA are playing at home for the first time in a month, a 1-0 loss at Portland on Wednesday ending a five-game road swing. Real are coming off back-to-back losses for a second time in short order, last a gutting 3-2 loss at Houston last weekend.

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REFEREE: Kevin Stott. SAR (bench): Peter Balciunas; JAR (opposite): Jason Cullum; 4th: Allen Chapman
MLS Career: 206 games; FC/gm: 25.8; Y/gm: 3.4; R: 56; pens: 43

INJURY REPORT: CHIVAS USA – OUT: DF Zarek Valentin (L quadriceps injury) …

REAL SALT LAKE – OUT: FW Chris Agorsor (R hand fracture); MF Nelson González (R foot fracture); MF Javier Morales (L ankle fracture dislocation); DF Chris Wingert (L wrist fracture); DOUBTFUL: MF Ned Grabavoy (L adductor strain); GK Kyle Reynish (R ankle sprain); QUESTIONABLE: MF Arturo Alvarez (R knee contusion); FW Fabian Espíndola (L knee contusion); DF Jamison Olave (L knee MCL strain); GK Nick Rimando (back contusion); PROBABLE: MF Jean Alexandre (R knee internal pain), FW Álvaro Saborío (R knee effusion)

INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
SUSPENDED: none
WARNINGS:
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: CHV: Nick LaBrocca, Zarek Valentin
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: CHV: Justin Braun, Simon Elliott, Michael Lahoud, Ben Zemanski … RSL: Jean Alexandre, Kyle Beckerman, Fabian Espindola, Robbie Russell, Chris Wingert

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (19 meetings): Chivas USA 9 wins, 29 goals … Real 6 wins, 21 goals … Ties 4
AT CHIVAS (10 meetings): Chivas USA 7 wins, 20 goals … Real 2 wins, 6 goals … Ties 1
•    Will Johnson scored the game’s only goal in the 87th minute to lead Real Salt Lake to victory in the first meeting with Chivas this season, May 7 at Rio Tinto Stadium.
•    After failing to come away from The Home Depot Center with a victory against Chivas USA in their first seven visits all-time, Real have won two of the last three trips to Carson to face Chivas, including the 2-1 win last year.
•    Chivas USA have never won at Rio Tinto Stadium, including a loss in the 2008 MLS Cup Playoffs.
•    Coaches record: Robin Fraser vs. RSL: P1 W0 L1 D0 … Jason Kreis v CHV: P13 W6 L5 D2

LAST MEETING
5/7: RSL 1, CHV 0 (Johnson 87)
•    Chivas USA were two men short before the first half was over. Andrew Boyens was booked first in the 15th minute -- a play RSL claimed should have been a red card -- then again in the 28th minute, to earn his marching orders.
•    Then disaster struck in the 38th minute, when RSL playmaker Javier Morales was taken down from behind by Chivas striker Marcos Mondaini. Morales suffered a fracture of the left ankle on the play, and referee Paul Ward showed the Chivas man a straight red card.
•    RSL was not able to take advantage until the 87th minute. Collen Warner sent in a bouncing cross from the left and it was flicked on in the goalmouth by Nat Borchers, finding Will Johnson at the back post, who bundled it home from close range.
•    REAL SALT LAKE (4-3-1-2): Nick Rimando – Robbie Russell (Arturo Alvarez 54), Nat Borchers, Jamison Olave, Chris Wingert - Ned Grabavoy, Kyle Beckerman, Will Johnson - Javier Morales (Andy Williams 45) - Fabian Espindola (Collen Warner 65), Alvaro Saborio.
•    CHIVAS USA (4-1-3-2): Dan Kennedy - Zarek Valentin, Heath Pearce, Andrew Boyens (sent off 25), Ante Jazic - Simon Elliott - Ben Zemanski, Nick LaBrocca (Francisco Mendoza 88), Jorge Flores (Justin Braun 57) - Marcos Mondaini (sent off 38), Alejandro Moreno (Mariano Trujillo 73).

CHIVAS USA
Chivas USA saw their three-game unbeaten streak and five-game road swing come to an end, falling to a 1-0 loss to the Portland Timbers on Wednesday evening at Jeld-Wen Field. Chivas USA have 31 points from 26 games on the season, now in seventh place in the Western Conference.

LAST MATCH
•    The game's lone goal came a minute before the halftime break. Eric Brunner rose above Chivas defender Heath Pearce to meet a Mike Chabala corner kick perfectly at the near post, driving his header past Chivas USA goalkeeper Dan Kennedy inside the back stick.
•    Chivas USA head coach Robin Fraser made five changes to the team that played to a 2-2 draw with the Colorado Rapids on Saturday evening at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. Michael Lahoud came in for Zarek Valentin in the back, Paulo Nagamura, Ben Zemanski and Laurent Courtois replaced Blair Gavin, Simon Elliott  and Jorge Flores in midfield, and Marcos Mondaini started up top for Juan Pablo Angel.
•    CHIVAS USA (4-1-3-2): Dan Kennedy - Michael Lahoud (Mariano Trujillo 11), Heath Pearce, Michael Umana, Ante Jazic - Paulo Nagamura (Simon Elliott 38) - Ben Zemanski (Justin Braun 60), Nick LaBrocca, Laurent Courtois - Marcos Mondaini, Alejandro Moreno.

TEAM NEWS
•    Chivas USA now return home after taking five of a possible 15 points on their five-game road swing. Beginning with the RSL game, six of Chivas USA’s final eight games are at The Home Depot Center – including a “road” game with the LA Galaxy.
•    “You always want to get more points,” said Chivas USA head coach Robin Fraser. “Regardless of whether you’re at home or on the road, you want to get three points and we just feel like we didn’t get enough points and obviously, the standings will show that.”
•    After making his Chivas USA debut and scoring his first goal with the club the weekend before, Juan Pablo Ángel did not make the trip to Portland.
•    "We're looking to manage him with what is long-term for us the next nine games. The ability to keep him off the pounding of the turf, we felt would be the best thing for him in the long haul," Fraser said.
•    Making his first start in four matches, replacing the injured Zarek Valentin, Michael Lahoud lasted just 11 minutes before he had to come off for a substitution.
•    Then Paulo Nagamura, who was making his first start since July 2, also had to come off before halftime.
•    "Absolutely injury-related. Michael Lahoud injured his ankle and Paulo Nagamura hurt his foot,” said Fraser. “Both guys were absolutely struggling so it was something we had to do. That's three games in a row we've had to make early changes and tactically that alters your plan."
•    After missing the Colorado match entirely with an abdominal strain, Justin Braun came on for the final half-hour.
•    "It was probably one of the biggest games of the year. It was a six-point swing – if we had won that we would've been kind of clear of Portland so it's definitely very disappointing," Braun said.
•    Chivas USA have scored eight goals in their last seven games. But they have been shut out four times in that span, since July 16, alternating attacking clean sheets with multiple-goal outings.
•    "We tried to be a little more aggressive. [In the first half] we came out flat and weren't able to move the ball the way we wanted to. We just stepped the energy up in the second half and we were pushing for that goal. Unfortunately we didn't get it,” Braun said. “We've got to give credit to Portland for keeping the shutout, [and we] can't dwell on it too much. We have to put it behind us and just go into Saturday and try to get three points."

REAL SALT LAKE
Real Salt Lake again went down to a second consecutive defeat, conceding a stoppage-time goal for a 3-2 loss to the Houston Dynamo on Saturday evening at Robertson Stadium. RSL sits in fifth place in the Western Conference, with 36 points from 23 matches.

LAST MATCH
•    Real opened the scoring in the 28th minute. Fabian Espíndola latched on to a deflected pass and beat Houston goalkeeper Tally Hall to the far post with an angled shot from the right side of the area.
•    But the home side pulled even two minutes after the second-half restart. Carlo Costly laid a deft pass off to Davis at the top of the box, who fought through two defenders to square a ball to the Brian Ching, who then poked a shot out of goalkeeper Nick Rimando’s reach.
•    Yet on the hour, RSL again nosed in front. Luis Gil split defenders Hunter Freeman and Bobby Boswell to latch onto an Espíndola cross from the right flank and head home.
•    The Dynamo again evened terms nine minutes later. Brad Davis found Bobby Boswell at the near post on a corner kick, and the center back floated a curling header that landed inside the far-side netting.
•    Then in stoppage time, a cross was cleared out only as far as Alex Dixon on the right. He corralled the ball and cut onto his left foot, unleasing a sterling strike that sailed past Rimando's despairing dive inside the far post.
•    RSL coach Jason Kreis made three changes to the side that went down to a 1-0 defeat to Toronto FC at BMO Field. Tony Beltran came in at fullback for Chris Wingert, Collen Warner started for the suspended Will Johnson and Arturo Alvarez replaced Andy Williams.
•    REAL SALT LAKE (4-3-1-2): Nick Rimando - Robbie Russell, Chris Schuler, Nat Borchers, Tony Beltran - Collen Warner (Andy Williams 46), Kyle Beckerman, Arturo Alvarez (Jean Alexandre 85) - Luis Gil - Fabian Espindola (Paulo Araujo Jr. 62), Alvaro Saborio.

TEAM NEWS
•    Real Salt Lake are now winless in their last eight league matches away from Rio Tinto Stadium. After winning their first two away games this season (at San Jose, 1-0 on March 19; at New England, 2-0 on April 9), RSL is 0-5-3 in league play since. Seven of RSL’s final 11 MLS games are on the road.
•    “We’re heartbroken, there’s no doubt about it.  You look around the locker room, and all of us are feeling devastated about that, because you never want to be in a position where you have two leads and walk away with nothing,” said RSL coach Jason Kreis. “We would have at least liked to get the draw, and if we’re 30 seconds better there at the end, we walk away with at least a point, and we can pat ourselves on the back for all the hard work that we put into that. But to walk away with nothing, it feels very, very unfortunate.”
•    17-year-old playmaker Luis Gil scored for the second time in three games, all since moving into the starting lineup.
•    Fabian Espíndola scored his seventh goal of the season, moving him ahead of strike partner Álvaro Saborío for the team lead, and also giving him a new MLS career single-season high.
•    “I’m pleased with the number of chances we created, I’m pleased that we scored twice in Houston, and I’m pleased that we had two leads,” Kreis said. “Those are all positive things. Soccer is not always a one-sided affair, and so you have to look at both sides of the story, and the other half I’m pretty displeased about.”
•    Real Salt Lake have lost four times in the last five games, the club’s most losses in a five-game stretch since midway through the 2007 season.
•    Real still have yet to ever win in the state of Texas. At Robertson Stadium, RSL is now 0-7-1; all-time in the Lone Star State, Real are 0-17-2.
•    “We were holding our own. Nick [Rimando] made a few great saves for us and we just let him down,” said Andy Williams. “We expect it when we come here. Brian Ching and Costly and Cameron, they are all over 6-foot-3. We worked on it at practice to prepare for all the crosses coming in.”
•    For the moment, Real still find themselves comfortably in a playoff position. While seven points behind FC Dallas for the final automatic spot in the Western Conference, they started the week four points ahead of the final wild card spot.
•    “There have been a lot of players that have gotten a whole ton of opportunities, and a lot of them quite frankly aren’t getting the job done,” Kreis said. “Unless we get this turned around here and start heading in a positive direction for the playoffs, there’s going to be a lot of difficult decisions to make this offseason.”