Preview: RSL, Chicago meet with plenty on the line
RIO TINTO STADIUM, Sandy, Utah
9 p.m. ET (My50 Chi.; watch LIVE online)
September 28, 2011 (WEEK 29; MLS Game 276)
An important match for both clubs for different reasons comes Wednesday when Real Salt Lake play host to the Chicago Fire at Rio Tinto Stadium. Real have secured their spot in the MLS Cup Playoffs, but now need a victory to keep alive their Supporters' Shield hopes after a 4-1 loss at D.C. United last weekend. The Fire are still battling to finish in the top 10 overall with four wins in their last five, last a 3-2 win against New England at home last Sunday.
REFEREE: Baldomero Toledo. SAR (bench): Fabio Tovar; JAR (opposite): Ian Anderson; 4th: Juan Guzman
MLS Career: 120 games; FC/gm: 24.9; Y/gm: 3.6; R: 46; pens: 47
INJURY REPORT: REAL SALT LAKE — OUT: DF Tony Beltran (L adductor strain); MF Nelson González (R foot fracture); GK Kyle Reynish (R ankle bone spur); QUESTIONABLE: MF Javier Morales (L ankle fracture dislocation); PROBABLE: DF Robbie Russell (L back spasms); FW Álvaro Saborío (R knee effusion); DF Chris Wingert (L wrist fracture) ... CHICAGO FIRE — OUT: MF Gabriel Ferrari (L knee ACL reconstruction); DF Steven Kinney (lower abdominal strain)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: CHI: Diego Chaves, Cory Gibbs, Dominic Oduro
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: RSL: Jean Alexandre, Fabian Espindola, Robbie Russell, Collen Warner, Chris Wingert ... CHI: Yamith Cuesta, Dan Gargan, Baggio Husidic, Josep Mikulic, Cristian Nazarit, Daniel Paladini, Logan Pause
ALL-TIME (13 meetings): Real 3 wins, 9 goals ... Fire 5 wins, 14 goals ... Ties 5
AT SALT LAKE (6 meetings): Real 2 wins, 6 goals ... Fire 2 wins, 8 goals ... Ties 2
- In their first meeting this season, the teams played to a scoreless draw, June 22 at Toyota Park.
- It extended Real's unbeaten streak against Chicago to five games in all competitions.
- The win last year at Toyota Park was the first ever for RSL. They did win on penalties in the 2009 Eastern Conference Championship, after the game officially ended in a draw.
- Coaches record: Jason Kreis v CHI: P9 W2 L2 D5 ... Frank Klopas vs. RSL: P1 W0 L0 D1
LAST MEETING (MLS)
6/22: CHI 0, RSL 0
- RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando made four saves on the evening, most of the tougher chances coming after the halftime break.
- Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson was called upon to make two saves.
- CHICAGO FIRE (4-4-2): Sean Johnson - Jalil Anibaba, Cory Gibbs, Yamith Cuesta, Gonzalo Segares - Dominic Oduro, Daniel Paladini, Baggio Husidic (Corben Bone 80), Patrick Nyarko - Diego Chaves (Gabriel Ferrari 86), Orr Barouch (Marco Pappa 70).
- REAL SALT LAKE (4-3-1-2): Nick Rimando - Robbie Russell, Jamison Olave, Nat Borchers, Tony Beltran - Ned Grabavoy, Kyle Beckerman, Will Johnson - Collen Warner (Nelson Gonzalez 84) - Artur Aghasyan (Andy Williams 69), Fabian Espindola (Luis Gil 7).
REAL SALT LAKE
Real Salt Lake saw their five-game winning streak come to a crashing halt, falling to a 4-1 loss to D.C. United on Saturday evening at RFK Stadium. RSL is in third place in the Western Conference, with 51 points from 29 matches.
- United took the lead after just 13 minutes. Dwayne De Rosario picked out a streaking Andy Najar with a diagonal ball that split the RSL back line, and Najar outraced a defender before hammering an angled shot home past goalkeeper Nick Rimando.
- Najar returned the favor for De Rosario nine minutes later, looping a long, curling cross into the area that De Rosario headed past Rimando.
- Five minutes later, De Rosario had his second and D.C.'s third. A bouncing ball was deflected by Josh Wolff into De Rosario's path, and he curled a shot into the upper corner from outside the penalty area.
- De Rosario completed his hat trick just four minutes later. From a free kick some 35 yards out on the right, he caught Rimando cheating towards his far post and curled his effort inside the upper corner of the near post.
- Alvaro Saborio scored a late consolation goal for Real, firing home from close range after he was left completely alone to run onto a pass from Paulo Junior.
- RSL coach Jason Kreis made eight changes to the side that defeated the New York Red Bulls 3-1 at Red Bull Arena. Only goalkeeper Nick Rimando, center back Nat Borchers and midfielder Collen Warner maintained their places.
- REAL SALT LAKE (4-1-3-2): Nick Rimando - Chris Wingert, Rauwshan McKenzie, Nat Borchers, Blake Wagner (Will Johnson 62) - Ned Grabavoy, Kyle Beckerman, Arturo Alvarez (Luis Gil 62) - Collen Warner - Jean Alexandre (Alvaro Saborio 75), Paulo Araujo Jr.
- TEAM NEWS
- Real Salt Lake saw their winning streak come to an end after five games — the longest in MLS this season.
- Earlier in the season, for a visit to New England in the midst of RSL's run to the CONCACAF Champions League final, Kreis made nine changes to his starting lineup. Real won that game 2-0.
- "I would argue that this is the same team that beat Cruz Azul last year at home and this is basically the same group that did that with a few changes," said defender Nat Borchers. "We expect a lot from our guys who come in off the bench, so we definitely need to work on a few things to get better."
- Blake Wagner made his Real Salt Lake debut, coming in at right back. Chris Wingert came in at the other fullback spot, his first appearance since Aug. 13, missing six matches with a broken wrist.
- Real Salt Lake also saw their three-game road winning streak put to an end. The club has never won four in a row away from home.
- "I think we won five games in a row and I think it's safe to say we weren't five-games-in-a-row-good. We didn't play that well through that stretch," said Borchers. " ... There are some positives though. We came into the locker room and we said, 'Look, we're going win this second half and that's our goal.' We responded well in that we did that."
- For the first time since his ankle injury May 7, Javier Morales was a part of the 18-man gameday roster. But he remained an unused substitute.
- "I felt like the game was lost and that there was probably nothing positive that could come out of playing [Javier Morales] out there. I felt like it was just too big of a risk," Kreis said. "Also, frankly I kind of wanted his first minutes to be at home, so I would have used him tonight in very few circumstances and obviously it wasn't going to happen so we'll look for Wednesday."
The Chicago Fire kept their late-season push alive, winning again for a second consecutive game, this time a 3-2 win over the New England Revolution on Sunday afternoon at Toyota Park. The Fire have 33 points from 29 matches on the year, sitting in seventh place in the Eastern Conference.
- Chicago took the lead after nine minutes. Patrick Nyarko was taken out by New England 'keeper Matt Reis while chasing down midfielder Logan Pause's through ball in the right side of the area, and Sebastian Grazzini buried the resulting penalty into the lower right corner.
- Dominic Oduro made it 2-0 four minutes later, running unmarked onto a Grazzini through ball at the top of the box before sidestepping Reis and tapping home. Then in the 30th minute, Oduro hit a hopeful through ball that Reis should have easily cleared, instead seeing Nyarko strip it off his foot and dribble unmolested into the goal.
- The Revolution made it interesting with two goals in stoppage time from Ryan Guy. First, on the stroke of full time, Sean Johnson spilled a cross after colliding with the Revolution's Milton Caraglio, and Guy looped the ball into the goal. Then two minutes later, Guy slotted home a pass from substitute midfielder Diego Fagundez from the heart of the box.
- Fire interim head coach Frank Klopas made one change to the team that came back for a 3-2 victory against Chivas USA at Toyota Park. Dan Gargan came back from suspension, for the suspended Cory Gibbs.
- CHICAGO FIRE (4-1-3-2): Sean Johnson - Dan Gargan, Josip Mikulic, Jalil Anibaba, Gonzalo Segares - Pavel Pardo - Logan Pause, Sebastian Grazzini (Baggio Husidic 25), Marco Pappa - Patrick Nyarko (Diego Chaves 66), Dominic Oduro (Orr Barouch 77).
- The Fire have won four of their last five games, winning a second in a row in a 3-2 victory against New England on Sunday. Chicago won just twice in their first 24 league games this season.
- "In the second half, being up 3-0 and tough stretch ahead of us, I had the opportunity to give some guys a break and get everyone involved in the game," said Klopas. "I think a good lesson for us to learn in a game like this is that a game is never over until it's over."
- Dominic Oduro continued his torrid spell with a goal against New England. Now in a four-way tie for fourth in the MLS Golden Boot Standings with 11 goals, Oduro has scored six goals in the last eight games.
- Sebastian Grazzini contributed his fourth goal since coming to the Fire, and then his fourth assist — his second in as many games. But he was forced from the field well before halftime with a hamstring injury.
- "Sometimes when you bring players in midseason like that, they've stopped their season and haven't gone through a proper preseason, they just go right into it," Klopas said. "We always have to be aware and be careful with the amount of training and games, but he's a guy who wants to play and make a difference, which he did today. It's just very unfortunate because he's a very important player to the team."
- Patrick Nyarko finally broke through and scored his first goal of 2011, to go with seven assists. A year ago he had one goal and 10 assists.
- "I was very happy for Patrick because I told him many times that he needs to be a little more selfish, especially now that he's playing up top and is getting more opportunities," Klopas said. "He's always looking to make that pass, but sometimes he needs to be selfish and finish plays by himself. I was very happy for him because when he gets assists, and today a goal, it helps his confidence. He's a guy who with or without the ball helps the team."
- Sean Johnson matched his season-high with six saves, facing a season-high eight shots in the New England match.
- "It was just one of those games. Sometimes there are games where you don't have much to do and other games where you keep pretty busy and I do my best keep the team in it," Johnson said. " ... Now we just need to get back to practice and work on a few things — closing out games is important, in the last few games we've given up some second half goals and that's something we need to correct."