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Final

Preview: RSL look to continue mastery over Red Bulls

REAL SALT LAKE vs NEW YORK RED BULLS
RIO TINTO STADIUM, Sandy, Utah

March 17, 2012 (WEEK 2, MLS Game #13)
8:15 p.m. MT (KTVX-ABC4; MSG)

Fresh of a stirring victory, Real Salt Lake make their 2012 Rio Tinto Stadium bow when they play host to the New York Red Bulls on Saturday evening. Real are coming off a come-from-behind 3-1 win against the defending MLS champion LA Galaxy in Carson last weekend. The Red Bulls are playing a second consecutive road match to begin the new season, falling to a 2-1 defeat by FC Dallas last Sunday.

REFEREE: Hilario Grajeda. SAR (bench): Chris Strickland; JAR (opposite): Eric Proctor; 4th: Tyler Ploeger

MLS Career: 58 games; FC/gm: 24.4; Y/gm: 3.5; R: 12; pens: 9

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INJURY REPORT: REAL SALT LAKE -- OUT: MF Will Johnson (R adductor strain); DOUBTFUL: DF Tony Beltran (R knee sprain); MF Javier Morales (R MCL sprain); QUESTIONABLE: FW Cody Arnoux (R knee sprain); DF Nat Borchers (L quadriceps strain); PROBABLE: FW Alvaro SaborÌo (R Condyle internal injury); MF Jonny Steele (L knee internal injury) … NEW YORK RED BULLS -- OUT: DF Wilman Conde (R quadriceps strain)

INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: NY: Juan Agudelo (USA U-23)

SUSPENDED: NY: Rafael Marquez (through March 18)

HEAD-TO-HEAD

ALL-TIME (14 meetings): Red Bulls 4 wins, 20 goals … Real 3 wins, 19 goals … Ties 7

AT SALT LAKE (7 meetings): Real 3 wins, 13 goals … Red Bulls 0 wins, 7 goals … Ties 4

LAST YEAR (MLS):

8/6: RSL 3, NY 0 (Borchers 13; Gil 44; Saborio 77)

9/21: NY 1, RSL 3 (Lindpere 69 ñ Saborio 7; Espindola 11, 21)

  • This is the only league meeting between the teams this season.
  • Real Salt Lake have a five-game unbeaten streak alive against New York. Since a 2-0 Red Bulls win at Giants Stadium in 2009, RSL has won four times, including both meetings a year ago.
  • In league play, the Red Bulls have never won in Utah. Real have won three of the seven regular-season meetings all-time, with four draws. But New York did win the Western Conference Championship, 1-0 in 2008 at Rio Tinto Stadium.
  • Coaches record: Jason Kreis vs. NY: P10 W4 L2 D4 … Hans Backe vs. RSL: P4 W0 L3 D1

REAL SALT LAKE

Real Salt Lake kicked off their 2012 season in impressive fashion, going to The Home Depot Center and scoring three goals in the final 18 minutes for a 3-1 win against the defending champion LA Galaxy.

LAST MATCH

  • The Galaxy opened the scoring through a triumphant return by Edson Buddle in the 71st minute. David Beckham swung a cross in from the right flank and Buddle coolly headed the ball into the corner of the net.
  • But the LA lead was short-lived as the Galaxy gifted the equalizer two minutes later. Sebastian Velasquez knocked a speculative cross in from the right flank. The ball took a bounce inside the box just as Sean Franklin tried to clear it, and it skipped off his shin and into the back of the net.
  • Javier Morales punched in the go-ahead goal in the 80th minute. The Argentinean was at the right place at the right time as a deflected ball fell to him inside the penalty area. Morales knocked the ball on frame, and Galaxy goalkeeper Josh Saunders got a piece of it but was unable to keep it out.
  • Fabian Espindola put an exclamation mark on the victory when he buried a goal in the 85th minute on a breakaway after he was freed for a long run down the left flank.
  • Rookie Sebastian Velasquez was given the start by Jason Kreis in the RSL midfield, while Luis Gil and Paulo Junior also started in an injury-hit side.

REAL SALT LAKE (4-3-1-2): Nick Rimando - Tony Beltran, Chris Schuler, Jamison Olave, Chris Wingert ñ Ned Grabavoy, Kyle Beckerman, Sebastian Velasquez (Yordany Alvarez 89) - Luis Gil (Javier Morales 67) - Paulo Junior (Alvaro Saborio 67), Fabian Espindola.

TEAM NEWS

  • Real Salt Lake became the first team to defeat the defending MLS champion Galaxy on their Home Depot Center field since Oct. 16, 2010.
  • "I felt like we were the team that was really controlling the tempo of the match," RSL coach Jason Kreis said. "I know that L.A. had some fantastic chances to score ... but really I felt like we were the team that was controlling the tempo so I am very pleased with everybody's contribution not just the guys that came on in the last 30 to win the game for us."
  • With both Javier Morales (quadriceps) and Alvaro Saborio (knee) held out of the first team, Sebastian Velasquez was given the start in midfield.
  • “The first time I’d seen him was in preseason,” Kreis said to Salt Lake ABC affiliate KTVX. “He’s done well enough to earn a starting position tonight. I think it might be the first time any rookie under me has started the first match of the year, but he’s earned it.”
  • Velasquez was the first rookie to start for RSL since Mehdi Ballouchy did vs. Chivas USA on April 2, 2006, also at The Home Depot Center. Velasquez was a surprise selection with the 36th overall selection in this year’s SuperDraft, out of Spartanburg Methodist College ñ just the second junior college player to be taken in the SuperDraft (along with Yura Movsisyan, out of Pasadena City College).
  • “I was very excited,” Velasquez said. “It was an amazing feeling. It’s something that I’ll never forget. When we were looking at the lineup, [I realized that] Landon Donovan was going to be on my side.”
  • Javier Morales scored his first goal since returning to the RSL lineup following a devastating ankle injury suffered last May. Morales was able to come back for the final five league games in 2011 ñ his last goal also came vs. LA, a 2-goal performance in a 4-1 in RSL win in the second game of the season last year.
  • “It was a great feeling to score,” Morales said. “Because it’s in the first game of the season and it helped to win the game against the Galaxy. The MLS champions. I’m very happy for scoring my goal.”
  • Striker Paulo Junior was given the start ahead of Saborio, partnering Fabian Espindola, who netted his first goal of the year to put the match away. Espindola scored 10 goals in 2011 for RSL, one off Saborio’s team lead.
  • “I think it was a game that had some great soccer like always when we play against the Galaxy,” Espindola said. “We started the game trying to control the ball and them trying to get us on the counterattack and playing long balls, which is how they got their goal. We tied with an unfortunate play, but I think we played better throughout the course of the game.”
  • Tony Beltran suffered a knee injury in the LA game and is expected to miss out this weekend. If he cannot, newcomer Terukazu Tanaka is the likely stand-in.
  • “He’s got some bruising and some bleeding on the back of his knee,” GM Garth Lagerwey said to ESPN700 Sports Radio. “It’s real sore and painful right now. Our medical advice is that there’s no structural damage. There’s no ligament damage. There’s no cartilage damage. So he’s not risking himself by playing, but it’s a painful injury.”

NEW YORK RED BULLS

The New York Red Bulls began their 2012 campaign with a 2-1 loss against FC Dallas at FC Dallas Stadium in the first game broadcast on the NBC Sports Network.

LAST MATCH

  • FC Dallas opened their 2012 account after 11 minutes. Brek Shea whipped in a cross from the left flank that the Red Bulls struggled to clear, and Blas Perez laid off a drop pass to Zach Loyd for a calm left-footed finish inside the back post.
  • The home side doubled the lead in the 61st minute after another Red Bulls miscue near midfield. New York defender Roy Miller made an errant pass that Perez picked off and ran with before dropping it off to Ricardo Villar surging in from the right flank, setting up an easy finish.
  • The Red Bulls closed the gap 12 minutes from the end. Thierry Henry sailed a perfect through ball over the FCD backline and substitute Kenny Cooper beat onrushing FCD goalkeeper Kevin Hartman to the ball and nodded it home, marking the second goal against the team that gave him his start in 2006.
  • Juan Agudelo was given the start up top alongside Thierry Henry by head coach Hans Backe. Stephen Keel and Markus Holgersson formed the central defense partnership with Wilman Conde injured and Rafa Marquez suspended.

NEW YORK RED BULLS (4-4-2): Ryan Meara - Jan Gunnar Solli, Stephen Keel, Markus Holgersson, Roy Miller - Dane Richards (Kenny Cooper 63), Teemu Tainio, Dax McCarty (Mehdi Ballouchy 86), Joel Lindpere (Victor Palsson 77) - Juan Agudelo, Thierry Henry.

TEAM NEWS

  • There was a bit of a surprise in the Red Bulls lineup with Juan Agudelo selected to partner Thierry Henry in attack ahead of Kenny Cooper.
  • “Kenny has played most of the games in the preseason, so it was a quite tough decision to put him on the bench for this game,” Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe said. “Now, with Agudelo for the Olympics, of course Kenny will be in.”
  • But Cooper did make his Red Bulls debut, coming on in the 63rd minute, and scored his first New York goal against the club where he made his professional start.
  • “He’s more of a striker that runs the channels, quite mobile,” Backe said. “He can come short but he is not a typical target player. With his size, he has decent pace, too, so it can be a little bit of a different game with him starting because I think he can stretch the back fours a little bit more than Thierry and Agudelo does. But it probably helps us a little bit to stretch them to get even better possession the last third.”
  • Agudelo will not be with the Red Bulls this week or next, after having been called into the U.S. U-23 national team for the CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
  • “I feel it’s tough being by myself at times because Henry likes to check in the middle,” Agudelo said. “I felt like it was great when there were actually two forwards and Henry was able to check in the middle. I really enjoy having Henry as a sort of a midfield playmaker. That’s what he enjoys and I think that’s his best qualities. But when I have somebody next to me like [Kenny] Cooper, I think it helps us stretch the back line.”
  • Rookie Ryan Meara, out of Fordham University in The Bronx, made his professional debut in goal. A year ago, five different goalkeepers played for the Red Bulls, tying an MLS record.
  • “He was great. He was quite nervous before the game,” Backe said. “I could see it on his face, and it’s understandable. He had one cross he missed in the first half, otherwise he made two or three very good saves, so I’m happy for Ryan.”
  • Rafa Marquez will complete his suspension received in last year’s MLS Cup Playoffs in missing out on the RSL match.
  • "I know, when Rafa is playing in central midfield, nine out of 10 times, Thierry is also more of a high striker," Backe said to ESPN.com. "Rafa can then take over the final passes, and he's very precise in that. He definitely will be a key to Henry playing as a higher striker."