Preview: RSL, Union make for weekend treat at Rio Tinto

Real Salt Lake and Philadelphia Union finally meet at Rio Tinto Stadium, in a game moved from April due to RSL’s participation in the CONCACAF Champions League final. Real put an end to a two-game losing streak last weekend, a 1-0 win at Chivas USA. Union were unable to play last weekend, their fixture with New England postponed due to Hurricane Irene; they are winless in their last five games after a 2-1 loss at Columbus two weekends ago.

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REFEREE: Hilario Grajeda. SAR (bench): Frank Anderson; JAR (opposite): Paul Scott; 4th: Allen Chapman
MLS Career: 51 games; FC/gm: 24.9; Y/gm: 3.7; R: 11; pens: 8

INJURY REPORT: 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: GK Kyle Reynish (R ankle sprain); QUESTIONABLE: MF Ned Grabavoy (L adductor strain); PROBABLE: MF Jean Alexandre (R knee internal pain); MF Kyle Beckerman (head laceration); FW Fabian Espíndola (L knee contusion); DF Jamison Olave (L knee MCL strain); GK Nick Rimando (back contusion); DF Robbie Russell (L back spasms); FW Álvaro Saborío (R knee effusion) …

PHILADELPHIA UNION – OUT: FW Levi Houapeu (L ankle strain); DOUBTFUL: MF Brian Carroll (R foot contusion)

INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: RSL: Will Johnson (Canada, at Puerto Rico); Arturo Alvarez (El Salvador, at Cayman Islands); Alvaro Saborio (Costa Rica, at Ecuador); Jean Alexandre (Haiti, at Curaçao) … PHI: Keon Daniel (Trinidad & Tobago, at Barbados)
SUSPENDED: RSL: Nat Borchers (through Sept. 3) … PHI: Carlos Valdes (caution accumulation; through Sept. 3)
WARNINGS:
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: RSL: Kyle Beckerman … PHI: Brian Carroll
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: RSL: Jean Alexandre, Fabian Espindola, Robbie Russell, Chris Wingert … PHI: Danny Califf, Danny Mwanga, Sheanon Williams

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (3 meetings): Real 1 win, 5 goals … Union 0 wins, 2 goals … Ties 2
AT RIO TINTO STADIUM (1 meeting): Real 1 wins, 3 goals … Union 0 wins, 0 goals … Ties 0
•    In the first meeting this season, Fabian Espindola’s second-half goal canceled out a Keon Daniel strike as the teams shared the points in a 1-1 draw, June 11 at PPL Park.
•    In Union’s inaugural season a year ago, Real claimed a 3-0 win at Rio Tinto Stadium in May, and the teams played to a 1-1 draw at PPL Park in August.
•    The teams were originally scheduled to play April 23 at Rio Tinto Stadium, but the game was moved in consideration of Real Salt Lake’s participation in the CONCACAF Champions League final.
•    Coaches record: Peter Nowak vs. RSL: P7 W2 L2 D3 … Jason Kreis v PHI: P3 W1 L0 D2

LAST MEETING (MLS)
6/11: PHI 1, RSL 1 (Daniel 24 – Espíndola 53)
•    Union took the lead in the 24th minute when Michael Farfan ran down a pass from defender Sheanon Williams in the right corner and chipped it to the center of the penalty area, where Keon Daniel’s header found the back of the net.
•    But the visitors pulled level in the 53rd minute, RSL forward Jean Alexandre won the ball from Farfan in the center of the pitch and fed the ball ahead to a streaking Espíndola, who cut the ball back on defender Carlos Valdés in the area and fired a low shot past Union goalkeeper Faryd Mondragón.
•    PHILADELPHIA UNION (4-4-2): Faryd Mondragon - Sheanon Williams, Carlos Valdes, Danny Califf, Jordan Harvey (Justin Mapp 58) - Michael Farfan, Brian Carroll, Keon Daniel (Roger Torres 67), Kyle Nakazawa (Jack McInerney 74) - Sebastien Le Toux, Danny Mwanga.
•    REAL SALT LAKE (4-3-1-2): Nick Rimando - Robbie Russell (Tony Beltran 57), Jamison Olave, Nat Borchers, Chris Wingert - Luis Gil (Collen Warner 83), Kyle Beckerman, Ned Grabavoy - Andy Williams - Jean Alexandre (Artur Aghasyan 71), Fabian Espindola.

REAL SALT LAKE
Real Salt Lake put a stop to their two-game losing slide, defeating Chivas USA 1-0 on Saturday evening at The Home Depot Center. RSL sits in fifth place in the Western Conference, with 39 points from 24 matches.

LAST MATCH
•    The game's lone goal came after 11 minutes. RSL striker Álvaro Saborío raced onto a poor back pass and went in alone on goal, rounding Chivas goalkeeper Dan Kennedy and easily sliding the ball into the empty net.
•    Real played the final 66 minutes a man down. Nick LaBrocca took a nifty through ball and nearly went in alone on goal, but just outside the area he was brought down by trailing RSL center back Nat Borchers, who was immediately shown red by referee Kevin Stott.
•    RSL coach Jason Kreis made two changes to the side that went down to a 3-2 loss to the Houston Dynamo at Robertson Stadium. Jamison Olave returned to the lineup, in place of Chris Schuler, and Will Johnson returned from suspension, in place of Collen Warner.
•    REAL SALT LAKE (4-3-1-2): Nick Rimando - Robbie Russell, Jamison Olave, Nat Borchers (sent off 24), Tony Beltran - Arturo Alvarez (Chris Schuler 32), Kyle Beckerman, Will Johnson - Luis Gil (Andy Williams 85) - Fabian Espindola, Alvaro Saborio.
TEAM NEWS
•    Real Salt Lake again ended their losing streak after two games; they still have not lost three consecutive games since the 2007 season.
•    “For me, it’s just the guys believing, because it takes a lot of belief to go down a man as early as we did. It takes a lot of belief from the guys, a lot of willingness to stay together as a unit,” said RSL head coach Jason Kreis. “To be through the stretch we’ve just been through, it would be extremely easy [to have not believed], and I think 80 or 90 percent of the teams in this league couldn’t have been as mentally tough as we were.”
•    Over the last eight games, Real have lost four, and won four. The four victories have all come by shutout; they have conceded eight goals in the four losses, after allowing just 12 goals total in their first 16 MLS matches.
•    “We had a couple bad games. I think this is a good win for sure; we showed a lot of guts for us. But we’re capable of these type of results and just this game isn’t going to turn our season around. I think it’s everybody pitching in every game,” said goalkeeper Nick Rimando.
•    Real won on the road for the first time since April 9, a 2-0 victory at New England. In the eight games in between, RSL lost five and drew three.
•    Center back Jamison Olave returned to the RSL lineup for the first time in five games, after suffering a knee sprain in the MLS All-Star Game, July 27 vs. Manchester United.
•    Real have seen red cards in four league matches this season – and won two (also in their last road win, April 9 in New England). They also drew a game (the return home match vs. New England); their only loss after going a man down came May 28 vs. Seattle.
•    Borchers has seen two of those red cards (also the July 4 game v. New England, after just three minutes).
•    “I think a lot of it is tactical … 50% (tactical) and 50% hard work. I think the guys have to be in the right shape, the guys have to have a real sense of the passes they’re going to allow, and the passes they’re not going to allow,” said Kreis. “On top of that, they’ve got to work extremely hard. So all of the players for me tonight, after we got them in at halftime, had a real good idea of how we wanted to defend, and all of them were willing to do the defending.”

PHILADELPHIA UNION
Philadelphia Union return to league play after a forced weekend off, their last match a 2-1 loss to the Columbus Crew at Crew Stadium, extending their winless run to five games. Union have 34 points from 24 matches on the year, in fourth place in the Eastern Conference.

LAST MATCH
•    The Crew took the lead after 37 minutes. Andres Mendoza freed Robbie Rogers on the left side of the Union box with a through ball, and his cross found Emilio Rentería, who cleverly one-timed a bouncing shot in over the line at the far post.
•    Five minutes later, Union equalized. Keon Daniel delivered a perfect corner kick from the right side and Veljko Paunovic ran past Justin Meram to head home.
•    But six minutes into the second half, the Crew again took the lead. Referee Mark Kadlecik ruled Philadelphia defender Sheanon Williams knocked down a cross with his arm, and Mendoza again grabbed the ball for the penalty. Union goalkeeper Faryd Mondragón dove to his left and looked to have made the save, only to see the ball spin under him and over the line.
•    Union manager Peter Nowak made three changes to the team that reached a 2-2 draw with FC at PPL Park. Stefani Miglioranzi came in for the suspended Brian Carroll, and Keon Daniel and Danny Mwanga came in for Freddy Adu and Jack McInerney.
•    PHILADELPHIA UNION (4-1-2-1-2): Faryd Mondragon - Sheanon Williams, Carlos Valdes, Danny Califf, Gabriel Farfan - Stefani Miglioranzi - Justin Mapp (Michael Farfan 60), Keon Daniel (Jack McInerney 73) - Sebastien Le Toux - Danny Mwanga (Freddy Adu 60), Veljko Paunovic.

TEAM NEWS
•    Union were scheduled to play host to the New England Revolution on Sunday evening at PPL Park, a match postponed due to Hurricane Irene. The game has been rescheduled for Wed., Sept. 7 (7 p.m.; Galavisión).
•    “I thought we were very sharp in training today and guys are anxious to get on the pitch against another club,” said Danny Mwanga. “I think the break was good for us mentally and physically, and now we’re excited to play. We have to go out there and execute our plan, which is always to come away with three points.”
•    At midweek before the postponement, Union did have a sharpener, defeating USL PRO affiliate Harrisburg City Islanders 5-3, a match in which they trailed 2-0 at halftime to the third-tier side.
•    “The first half we were all over the place, but the second half we were very organized,” Union manager Peter Nowak said. “We were moving the ball well, with one, two touches forward and finding good spots, good openings. It was a positive sign for us.”
•    With the rescheduled match, Union will now have three consecutive home matches– Sept. 7 against the Revolution, Sept. 10 against Portland and Sept. 17 against Columbus.
•    “I said to the guys that for a young and inexperienced team like this, sometimes it’s very difficult to overcome this pressure,” Nowak said. “All we need to do is not look at the standings, not look at who’s behind us, who’s in front of us, how many games we have left, how many games we have in hand. We just have to play one game at a time.”
•    Union are winless in their last five games, their longest stretch without a victory this season. Their last victory came in the first meeting with New England.
•    “I believe everybody saw (against Columbus), from the flow of the game, that I think in some capacity we didn't believe that we could score more goals, especially in the first half," Nowak said. "In the second half it was much better. But there was some hesitation in the first half. We can do better with the final pass in the final third. That needs to be improved.”
•    Union had a season-high 13 corner kicks against Columbus; two of their 30 goals this season have come from corners. “I think we have very good guys like Le Toux, like Daniel taking them,” said Vejlko Paunovic said. “We just need to score more goals in that part of the game.”
•    They also had 17 attempts at goal against Columbus, though still far short of their season-high of 26, vs. Sporting KC on June 22. “Overall, I think we had more shots, more situations, a more fluid game,” Nowak said. “From this perspective, I can't complain about the team's play. The first goal, we fell a little bit asleep, but we fought back. We had a couple of good chances to score a goal, especially in the second half, when we pushed the game a little bit harder.”
•    Danny Mwanga made his first start since July 29, as Freddy Adu went to the substitutes’ bench in his second game after signing with the club. Adu came on for the final half-hour.
•    “We had a lot of opportunities,” Paunovic said. “We just missed them. We showed we really wanted to tie and win the game. This is very hard for us. We’re very disappointed that we lost. I think we didn’t deserve to lose this game.”
•    For the first time this season, Union find themselves out of the top two spots in the Eastern Conference. “It’s not done yet we still have a lot of games to play and we are ready to fight for our place in the playoffs and we just have to be ready for them,” said Sebastien Le Toux.