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Preview: SJ visit the RioT with West supremacy on the line

REAL SALT LAKE vs SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES
RIO TINTO STADIUM, Sandy, Utah
June 23, 2012 (WEEK 16, MLS Game #143)
7 p.m. MT (KUCW-30; CSN-CA)

A top-of-the-table clash in the Western Conference is ahead when Real Salt Lake play host to the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday evening at Rio Tinto Stadium. Real saw their seven-game undefeated run come to an end at midweek, the LA Galaxy storming back for a 3-2 victory in Sandy. The Earthquakes yet once again provided some late dramatics, getting another stoppage-time goal for a victory in a 2-1 midweek win in Colorado.

REFEREE: Jair Marrufo. SAR (bench): Corey Rockwell; JAR (opposite): Fabio Tovar; 4th: Tyler Ploeger
MLS Career: 135 games; FC/gm: 24.2; Y/gm: 3.2; R: 32; pens: 42

DOWNLOAD FULL GAME GUIDE (PDF)

INJURY REPORT:

  • REAL SALT LAKE - OUT: DF Chris Schuler (L foot bone stress response); QUESTIONABLE: MF Sebastian Velasquez (R foot turf toe); MF Luis Gil (R knee strain); PROBABLE: MF Javier Morales (R quadriceps strain); DF Jamison Olave (R calf strain)
  • SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES - OUT: MF Sam Garza (rib fracture); MF Joey Gjertsen (R knee surgery); DF Tim Ward (L non-specific soft tissue injury)

INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none

SUSPENDED: none

WARNINGS:

  • SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: RSL: Kyle Beckerman, Javier Morales, Alvaro Saborio ... SJ: Ramiro Corrales, Alan Gordon
  • SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: RSL: Jamison Olave ... SJ: Steven Beitashour

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (14 meetings): Real 5 wins, 21 goals ... Earthquakes 4 wins, 17 goals ... Ties 5
AT SALT LAKE (6 meetings): Real 2 wins, 10 goals ... Earthquakes 1 win, 5 goals ... Ties 4
FUTURE MATCH: 7/14: San Jose Earthquakes vs. Real Salt Lake, 7:30 p.m. PT

  • The Earthquakes grabbed a stunning victory when the clubs met earlier this season, goals from Simon Dawkins and Chris Wondolowski in stoppage time leading to a 3-1 win April 21 at Buck Shaw Stadium.
  • It was San Jose's first win in league play against RSL since May 30, 2009, and ended a two-game losing streak to Real in Santa Clara. Real had won three of the five previous meetings, with two draws.
  • Coaches record: Frank Yallop vs. RSL: P15 W4 L7 D4 ... Jason Kreis vs. SJ: P10 W5 L2 D3

LAST MEETING (MLS)
4/21: SJ 3, RSL 1 (Stephenson 47+; Dawkins 92+; Wondolowski 93+ -- Beckerman 53)

  • Real went a man down just 29 minutes into the match, when Fabian Espindola was sent off for a two-footed, studs-up challenge on San Jose midfielder Sam Cronin.
  • The Quakes were then able to take advantage in first-half stoppage time. Khari Stephenson snuck a header past RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando for his first goal of the season, rising to meet a curling cross from fullback Steven Beitashour.
  • The visitors drew even in the 53rd minute. Kyle Beckerman ignited the buildup, creating a turnover in midfield and quickly getting the ball back via Jonny Steele's cutting pass off the left wing. Beckerman ran onto it after a dummy, and then maneuvered past two San Jose defenders before rolling home from 14 yards out.
  • RSL went another man down in the 69th minute when Jamison Olave was ejected by referee Elias Bazakos after taking down Quakes forward Steven Lenhart at the edge of the area.
  • It took the home side until the 90 minutes were complete to take advantage, but they finally did with two goals in a minute. Two minutes into stoppage time, Simon Dawkins sent home a diving header off a right-wing cross from Beitashour, then Chris Wondolowski scored his league-leading eighth goal off a short chip from Stephenson inside Real Salt Lake's penalty area.
  • SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (4-4-1-1): Jon Busch - Steven Beitashour, Ike Opara (Alan Gordon 75), Jason Hernandez, Justin Morrow - Tressor Moreno, Sam Cronin (Steven Lenhart 61), Rafael Baca (Sam Garza 82), Simon Dawkins - Khari Stephenson - Chris Wondolowski.
  • REAL SALT LAKE (4-3-1-2): Nick Rimando - Tony Beltran (Paulo Junior 93+), Jamison Olave (sent off 69), Nat Borchers, Chris Wingert - Will Johnson, Kyle Beckerman, Jonny Steele (Luis Gil 60) - Javier Morales (Chris Schuler 77) - Fabian Espindola (sent off 29), Alvaro Saborio.

REAL SALT LAKE

Real Salt Lake saw their seven-game undefeated streak ended in dramatic fashion, falling 3-2 to the LA Galaxy on Wednesday evening at Rio Tinto Stadium. Real lead the Western Conference with 32 points from 16 games.

HIGHLIGHTS: LA storm back for win over RSL

LAST MATCH

  • Real had the lead after just nine minutes. Chris Wingert fed Fabian Espindola on the right flank, and the Argentinean beat Todd Dunivant to the endline and sent it across the middle for Kyle Beckerman, who tapped home for the opener.
  • Then in the 24th minute, Espindola played creator again, sending another ball to the middle to ¡lvaro Saborio. Saborio got just a piece of the cross, sending it bouncing up in the air a couple of times before settling in the lower-left corner of the net.
  • But five minutes later, the Galaxy started their climb back. RSL defender Tony Beltran, deep in his own third, tried to send a pass back to ëkeeper Nick Rimando six minutes later. Landon Donovan saw the pass coming and rushed to intercept the ball and deposited it after rounding Rimando.
  • Real's giving mood continued just five minutes into the second half, with Jamison Olave giving the ball away to Donovan about 30 yards from goal. The Galaxy captain hit a perfect through-ball to Mike Magee, who took a touch and hit a brilliant, left-foot strike to the right corner that caromed off the inside of the post.
  • The Galaxy completed the comeback in the 68th minute. Magee sent a ball from the left over the top toward Donovan, who beat an onrushing Rimando to ball, took one touch past the 'keeper and calmly curled it into the open net for the winner.
  • RSL head coach Jason Kreis made no changes to the team that strolled to a 3-0 win against Chivas USA at The Home Depot Center.
  • REAL SALT LAKE (4-1-3-2): Nick Rimando - Tony Beltran, Jamison Olave (Luis Gil 64), Nat Borchers, Chris Wingert - Kyle Beckerman -  Will Johnson, Ned Grabavoy (Paulo Junior 80), Jonny Steele (Javier Morales 60) - Fabian Espindola, Alvaro Saborio.

TEAM NEWS

Last Call: 1 vs. 2 Matchup

  • Real blew a 2-goal lead to lose a league game for the first time in the club's history, after 233 games in MLS competition.
  • "It's pretty bewildering to be up 2-0 and lose a game 3-2," said defender Nat Borchers. "We made some mistakes. We all know we made some bad mistakes in terms of our possession, and they made us pay. Let's give them some credit. They were definitely ice-cold when it came to finishing those chances and they deserve that win."
  • The loss also put an end to the club's five-game home winning streak, matching the longest in RSL history.
  • "I thought we approached the game in the right way. We were really aggressive with our spirit and aggressive with the ball. We got the ball in their half of the field, strung some nice passes together, got some nice chances to score and took them," said RSL head coach Jason Kreis. "I'm really, really pleased with how we started the match and then not pleased with a lot of things from there."
  • After scoring two goals vs. Chivas USA at the weekend - his third career two-goal game in MLS - Fabian Espindola turned provider, setting up both goals vs. LA. It was his first career two-assist game in MLS.
  • For a second consecutive match, Jamison Olave was removed just after the hour mark, with midfielder Luis Gil replacing him in the Galaxy match.
  • "It's injury related. He's carrying an injury and I think everybody can see it's affecting him. He also was ill yesterday," said Kreis. "We are very, very thin on the back line. If we had a healthy Schuler, we probably wouldn't have played Olave, but at the moment we don't really have a true center back, so now you're talking about shifting players all over the place. And, I was trying to get in a little more attack otherwise I'd put in Tanaka--defender for defender.  But, I was trying to be positive and go for three points at home."
  • Javier Morales came on the final half-hour for a second consecutive match, which came after missing two games following five consecutive starts April 21-May 9.
  • "He's getting there," Kreis said. "You know I think that come Saturday we take a real strong look on whether or not he can start and at least give us 45-60 and build him towards 90."
  • Luis Gil also shook off an injury suffered in a U.S. under-20 national team camp to come off the bench for the final 26 minutes.
  • "It felt good, especially getting back on the field so quickly," said Gil. "I feel like I've got to get back into that rhythm, though. Obviously, time off takes that away and you feel a little slow; just getting back into the soccer rhythm, getting back on the ball, more confidence.

SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES

The San Jose Earthquakes once again recorded a dramatic comeback in stoppage time, getting two late goals for a 2-1 win against the Colorado Rapids at Dick's Sporting Goods Park on Wednesday. The Quakes are in second place in the Western Conference with 30 points from 15 games.

HIGHLIGHTS: Quakes take the win at the death

LAST MATCH

  • The home side took the lead after 18 minutes. After surging down the wing, right back Hunter Freeman crossed to an open Brian Mullan at the far post, and he made no mistake with the pinpoint service, heading inside the back post.
  • But the Quakes yet again had some late heroics in their bag. In the 83rd minute, after Colorado goalkeeper Matt Pickens denied Steven Lenhart's point-blank chance, San Jose's Alan Gordon and Freeman came crashing in at the far post, and the rebound caromed off the Rapids defender into the net.
  • Then in stoppage time, Gordon drew a penalty after Pickens' flailing dive at the ball, where the 'keeper appeared to catch Gordon's boot. Chris Wondolowski stepped to the spot and buried the resulting penalty for the match-winner.
  • Earthquakes head coach Frank Yallop made five changes to the team that suffered a 2-1 loss to Sporting Kansas City at Livestrong Sporting Park. David Bingham came in at goal for the suspended Jon Busch, Victor Bernardez came into the back four for Ramiro Corrales, Sam Cronin entered the midfield for Brad Ring, and Steven Lenhart and Chris Wondolowski came into the team for Khari Stephenson and Alan Gordon.
  • SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (4-3-1-2): David Bingham - Steven Beitashour (Shea Salinas 75), Jason Hernandez, Victor Bernardez, Justin Morrow - Rafael Baca (Alan Gordon 65), Sam Cronin (Khari Stephenson 70), Marvin Chavez - Simon Dawkins - Steven Lenhart, Chris Wondolowski.

TEAM NEWS

Root Beer Float Chug Off: Lenhart or Beitashour?

  • For the sixth time in nine league matches, the Quakes scored the tying or winning goal in the 88th minute or later.
  • iWe kept going until the end, which we've done all year," Quakes coach Frank Yallop said. "I said to the guys, 'It doesn't matter if you score in the first minute or the last minute. The game's 90 minutes. You've got to make sure you're as good in the first as you are in the last.'"
  • Said Chris Wondolowski: "I didn't think we were playing our best, but we were creating opportunities, which is all you can really ask for. I thought our defense did really well trying to limit their opportunities. It was great to keep pounding away and get those goals."
  • The Quakes have scored 10 goals in the game's final quarter-hour, most in MLS, and 18 from the 60th minute on, also most in the league.
  • "We have character, we have heart and we have a lot of guys that don't give up. We've got competitors and guys that really want to win," said Alan Gordon. "That's the difference. It comes down to heart at the end and who's willing to make the extra run, and battle the extra bit."
  • Returning to the team after missing two matches while on international duty, Wondolowski scored the game-winner from the penalty spot and regained the lead in the MLS Golden Boot race, one ahead of New York's Kenny Cooper.
  • "I'm not sure if comfortable is the right word, but we know that we're never going to give up. We know that we have it," Wondolowski said. "We come into the locker room down 1-0 and everyone is positive, everyone knows we're going to keep fighting until the last second on the clock. That's just our mentality. Anytime a sub comes in, he raises our level and gives us energy."
  • As well, the Quakes scored the game-winning goals in both of their U.S. Open Cup matches in the final 20 minutes. They return home for a quarterfinal match vs. holders Seattle Sounders FC next Tuesday at Kezar Stadium in San Francisco.
  • "We just keep doing it game in and game out," Gordon said. "I don't think it's a mistake. ... We want to get the first goal and keep the lead, but that's not the way the games have been going. We've been doing well in the situations that we've been put in, and showing a lot of character, but that's not a habit that we want to get into. We want to start playing a little bit better from the get go, and get on the front foot for a change."
  • After suffering fractured ribs in a training ground collision, rookie Sam Garza will be out an expected 4-6 weeks.
  • The trip to Salt Lake completes a two-game road swing of the Mountain states for San Jose, over a four-day span.
  • "The lack of oxygen, obviously the guys from Colorado and Salt Lake are used to it," Yallop said. "They train every day in it. When you go in there, you don't think it makes a difference. It's not a big, big difference, but it is a difference."