Preview: Surging Fire, Salt Lake meet at Toyota Park

Chicago Fire vs. Real Salt Lake, May 9, 2012

Photo Credit: 
Getty Images

CHICAGO FIRE vs REAL SALT LAKE
TOYOTA PARK, Bridgeview, Ill.
May 9, 2012 (WEEK 10, MLS Game #87)
8:30 p.m. ET (NBC5.2; KUCW-30)

The Chicago Fire and Real Salt Lake both come off stirring victories as the clubs renew acquaintances on Wednesday evening at Toyota Park. The Fire return home after scoring a stoppage-time winner for a 2-1 win at Chivas USA last Friday. A 10-man RSL side overcame an early deficit to continue their home winning streak with a 2-1 win against the New England Revolution.

REFEREE: Jair Marrufo. SAR (bench): Eric Boria; JAR (opposite): Peter Balciunas; 4th: Leszek Stalmach
MLS Career: 131 games; FC/gm: 24.3; Y/gm: 3.2; R: 29; pens: 41

DOWNLOAD FULL GAME GUIDE (PDF)

INJURY REPORT:

  • CHICAGO FIRE - OUT: DF Cory Gibbs (R knee meniscus repair); MF Steven Kinney (R posterior tibialis tendinitis); QUESTIONABLE: FW Chris Rolfe (L ankle sprain)
  • REAL SALT LAKE - OUT: FW Cody Arnoux (L adductor strain)

INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none

SUSPENDED: RSL: Will Johnson (through May 9)

WARNINGS:

  • SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: none
  • SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: CHI: Sebastian Grazzini ... RSL: Kyle Beckerman, Javier Morales, Jamison Olave

HEAD-TO-HEAD

ALL-TIME (14 meetings): Fire 6 wins, 17 goals ... Real 3 wins, 9 goals ... Ties 5

AT CHICAGO (7 meetings): Fire 3 wins, 6 goals ... Real 1 win, 3 goals ... Ties 3

LAST YEAR (MLS):

6/22. CHI 0, RSL 0
9/28: RSL 0, CHI 3 (Pappa 9, 36, 75)

  • This is the only league meeting between the clubs this season.
  • The Fire haven't won at home vs. RSL since 2009. Real have won and drawn on their last two league visits to Toyota Park, and also won the 2009 Eastern Conference Championship on penalty kicks.
  • Real have defeated the Fire at home once in the last five years - a 1-0 win at Rio Tinto Stadium. Since 2007, Chicago has won twice on the road vs. RSL, with two draws.
  • Coaches record: Jason Kreis vs. CHI: P10 W2 L3 D5 ... Frank Klopas vs. RSL: P2 W1 L0 D1

CHICAGO FIRE

The Chicago Fire went on the road and came away with a dramatic victory, snatching a late 2-1 win against Chivas USA on Friday evening at The Home Depot Center. The Fire are in a tie for fourth place in the Eastern Conference with 11 points from 7 games.

HIGHLIGHTS: Chicago stun Chivas USA at HDC

LAST MATCH

  • Chivas USA broke their scoring duck at The Home Depot Center in the 23rd minute after Chicago defender Austin Berry brought down Alejandro Moreno in the box, giving Chivas a penalty kick. Juan Pablo Angel stepped up to the spot and buried his chance for the club's first home goal the season.
  • Berry got his redemption just two minutes later. From a throw-in, a Chivas defender cleared the ball out to Sebastian Grazzini, who launched a rainbow pass over the Chivas defense that the rookie defender redirected into the corner from close range.
  • As the match seemed destined for a draw, Marco Pappa and Federico Puppo played a series of one-twos out of midfield, with Pappa eventually haring forward. From just beyond the restraining arc, Pappa lashed home a low shot that curled past Chivas goalkeeper Dan Kennedy inside the right post for the game-winner, four minutes into stoppage time.
  • Fire head coach Frank Klopas made two changes to the team that fell 2-1 to Seattle Sounders FC at Toyota Park. Austin Berry came in at center back for the suspended Jalil Anibaba and Marco Pappa started in midfield for Daniel Paladini.
  • CHICAGO FIRE (4-3-1-2): Sean Johnson - Dan Gargan, Arne Friedrich, Austin Berry, Gonzalo Segares - Logan Pause, Pavel Pardo, Marco Pappa - Sebastian Grazzini (Rafael Robayo 78) - Patrick Nyarko, Dominic Oduro (Federico Puppo 86).

TEAM NEWS

Chicago rookies try - and fail at - making cookies

  • It was the second time in three games the Fire overcame a first-half deficit to claim all three points on the road.
  • "It's a great win, it's great winning some these games like this, when they go your way," said Fire head coach Frank Klopas. "Like I said it's a very good team and it's a huge win for us, now we go back home for a homestand the next couple of games."
  • Rookie center back Austin Berry was certainly the talking point following the 2-1 win at Chivas USA. He made his full professional debut in place of the suspended Jalil Anibaba.
  • "It just gives everyone confidence that whoever we put out there at center back will get the job done," Berry said. "If that's the only game that I get in, I'm going to be the best teammate that I can be behind Jalil and Arne [Friedrich]. I have full confidence in anybody we put on the field."
  • Berry then created the game's first flashpoint, bringing down Alejandro Moreno in the area for the penalty kick converted by Juan Pablo ¡ngel.
  • "One thing we talked about before the game was to keep a shutout," said Berry. "Since [the goal] was kind of my fault, to get the goal back and get things back to even, it just helped me settle into the game even more."
  • Berry scored his first professional goal just minutes later. He registered four shots as a threat on set pieces, and became the third Fire rookie to score on his full debut, the first since 1998.
  • "I had a good feeling about him, obviously he was excited to play. Then he starts a game I thought he played very well, I know he scored a goal, but I thought he was dangerous throughout the game for set pieces," said Klopas. "He got in the end of a couple more balls and I thought he had a very good game, him and the rest of the team. I think they got behind him they supported him."
  • Marco Pappa scored his second goal in as many games for the match-winner, returned to the starting lineup after beginning the Seattle match at the weekend on the substitutes' bench following international duty days before.
  • The winning goal also came after Klopas shifted to five midfielders, after introducing Federico Puppo and Rafael Robayo into the proceedings.
  • "I think the matchups were better, because that gave the freedom to Marco knowing the cover was behind him, to take a little more risk moving forward. He did a lot of work defensively," Klopas said.

REAL SALT LAKE

Real Salt Lake continued their winning ways Rio Tinto Stadium, coming back for a 2-1 win against the New England Revolution on Saturday evening. . Real are in second place in the Western Conference with 22 points from 11 games.

HIGHLIGHTS: RSL take down Revs at Rio Tinto

LAST MATCH

  • The Revolution took the lead in the 22nd minute. Freed by Shalrie Joseph, Blake Brettshneider took off on a counter attack down the left side, and after cutting square across the top of the penalty area, sent a curling laser into the far side netting.
  • But Real drew level in the 33rd minute. Kyle Beckerman's partially deflected cross bounced around in the middle, finally ricocheting off Alvaro Saborio's chest. It fell nicely to his feet, and he struck it low and hard before goalkeeper Matt Reis could react.
  • In the 55th minute, Saborio hit for his second of the game. A Javier Morales free kick found Saborio unmarked on the back post, and he headed it home with the least difficulty.
  • Just four minutes later, the game changed drastically just a few minutes later when Will Johnson was shown a red card by referee David Gantar after a lunging challenge into New England's Clyde Simms.
  • But the teams were level again nine minutes from the end when a red card was issued to Fernando Cardenas when the young Colombian clipped RSL's Jamison Olave while challenging for a bouncing ball.
  • RSL head coach Jason Kreis made one change to the team that got a late goal for a 3-2 win against Toronto FC at Rio Tinto Stadium. Nat Borchers came in at center back for Chris Schuler.
  • REAL SALT LAKE (4-3-1-2): Nick Rimando - Tony Beltran, Jamison Olave, Nat Borchers, Chris Wingert - Ned Grabavoy, Kyle Beckerman, Will Johnson (sent off 59) - Javier Morales - Fabian Espindola (Jonny Steele 63), Alvaro Saborio.

TEAM NEWS

Taking the Lead: RSL's Kyle Beckerman

  • RSL head coach Jason Kreis was able to run out his first-choice team for the first time this season - but with the suspension of Will Johnson after his expulsion, it won't be the case at Chicago.
  • Real have 22 points after 11 matches, the club's best start in its eight-year history.
  • "When we scored the second goal, we were playing good, but then another red card, and it changed the game," said Javier Morales. "It shows we have wait and try to score one more goal to save the game, but it's hard to play like that. If we don't play aggressively, it's going to be difficult for us to get the three points."
  • Alvaro Saborio scored two goals in a game for the sixth time in his MLS career in the win. But he was unable to become the second player in club history to hit for a hat trick.
  • "One thing that's stayed consistent is that he works hard, and that's what I ask," said Kreis. "I keep saying it doesn't always matter to me that the forwards score goals; I don't think they have to in order to be a successful team. I think we have 11 players out there -10, hopefully Rimando won't be scoring any goals soon - but 10 other guys that contribute on the offensive statute."
  • Real have won four games in a row at Rio Tinto Stadium, but will now face two away games this week, with a trip to Seattle following at the weekend.
  • "I am considering some rotation. I do think that playing three games is very difficult on the players. We did it last week and I think we did pretty well. Towards the end of that third match, we had some guys that were really dying, but we also have some other players that have contributed and need the opportunity," said Kreis. "I want us to continue to be aggressive, and continue to take our chances. If they go in fantastic, and if they don't, hopefully that'll build us some sort of momentum that will play dividends as the match goes on."
  • Said midfielder Kyle Beckerman: "It doesn't really let up on us this year, a lot of Saturday-Wednesday-Saturday games, so we just need to take care of our bodies, get in the cold tub and focus on the next ones."
  • Real have already come away with seven points after conceding the first goal (which they've done six times), most in MLS. RSL and the San Jose Earthquakes are the only teams to win twice after allowing the opening goal.
  • "If I knew the answer, I'd probably be a genius, and we wouldn't get scored on," said Beckerman. "I think the best thing about it is that we're going a goal down, or we're getting the leads taken away, but we don't stop believing. Tonight we went down a goal, but there wasn't any doubt in our mind that we were going to win this game."