Preview: RSL look to right ship vs. surging FCD at Rio Tinto

REAL SALT LAKE vs FC DALLAS
RIO TINTO STADIUM, Sandy, Utah
August 18, 2012 (WEEK 24, MLS Game #231)
9 pm ET / 7 pm MT (KUCW-30; FS-SW)

Real Salt Lake will look to return to their winning ways when they meet an FC Dallas looking to build on a road victory as the clubs meet Saturday night at Rio Tinto Stadium. Real are coming off back-to-back losses, their last a 2-1 defeat in Vancouver, and sit in second place in the Western Conference. FC Dallas started their two-game road swing with their second away win this season, winning 2-0 in Vancouver at midweek.

REFEREE: Juan Guzman. AR1 (bench): Frank Anderson; AR2 (opposite): Mike Kampmeinert; 4th: Tyler Ploeger
MLS Career: 17 games; FC/gm: 26.2; Y/gm: 3.8; R: 6; pens: 4

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INJURY REPORT:

  • REAL SALT LAKE -- OUT: DF Chris Schuler (L foot bone stress response); GK Lalo Fernandez (R wrist stress fracture); DOUBTFUL: DF Jamison Olave (L hamstring strain); QUESTIONABLE: MF Javier Morales (L adductor tightness); PROBABLE: MF Will Johnson (R ankle sprain); GK Kyle Reynish (rib contusion)
  • FC DALLAS – OUT: DF Ugo Ihemelu (concussion symptoms); DF Alex Lee (lower abdominal strain); FW Blas Perez (R foot sprain); MF Ricardo Villar (R foot strain); DOUBTFUL: MF Jackson (concussion symptoms)

INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
SUSPENDED: DAL: Andrew Jacobson (caution accumulation; through Aug. 19)
WARNINGS:

  • SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: RSL: Jamison Olave, Alvaro Saborio … DAL: Daniel Hernandez, Zach Loyd
  • SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: RSL: Fabian Espindola, Will Johnson, Javier Morales, Chris Wingert … DAL: Jair Benitez, Fabian Castillo, Julian de Guzman, George John

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (22 meetings): Real 8 wins, 30 goals … FC Dallas 11 wins, 33 goals … Ties 3
AT SALT LAKE (12 meetings): Real 8 wins, 24 goals … FC Dallas 3 wins, 14 goals … Ties 1

2012 (MLS)
4/25: DAL 1, RSL 1 (Shea 46+ pen – Bonfigli 72)
5/26: RSL 3, DAL 2 (Saborio 59, 76; Borchers 93+ -- Hedges 75; Perez 85)
• The teams are meeting for the third time this season. They reached a 1-1 draw April 25 in Frisco – extending RSL’s all-time winless streak at FC Dallas – then Real claimed a 3-2 victory May 26 at Rio Tinto Stadium, behind a pair of goals from Alvaro Sabório and a late winner from Nat Borchers.
• FC Dallas have not won in Utah since 2007. Real have won the last six meetings between the teams at home, including the three meetings all-time at Rio Tinto Stadium.
• Real Salt Lake have still never won in Dallas. FCD are 8-0-2 all-time in league games between the clubs, and have also won a game in the MLS Cup Playoffs (in 2010) and a U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal (last year).
• Coaches record: Jason Kreis vs. SJ: P13 W6 L5 D2 … Schellas Hyndman vs. RSL: P9 W2 L5 D2

LAST MEETING
• The game opened up in the 59th minute when substitute right back Terukazu Tanaka delivered a cross into the area that found Alvaro Saborío ghosting across the six-yard box, and he was able to head it past FCD goalkeeper Kevin Hartman.
• The visitors drew even in the 75th minute. Rookie defender Matt Hedges crept into the area on a restart and was in perfect position to pounce on a loose ball when RSL failed to clear a Zach Loyd chip, his blast just clearing the line before ‘keeper Kyle Reynish could parry it away.
• RSL regained the lead a minute later as Saborío got his second goal of the match. The Costa Rican beat the Dallas defense in the right channel after some neat build-up from Grabavoy and substitue Jonny Steele, his 15-yard blast deflecting off Hedges and beating Hartman to the near post.
• But Dallas pulled level again in the 85th minute. This time it was Blas Pérez, who despite being well marked at the top of the area, contrived space to turn and blast directly at Reynish, who saw the ball slip through his fingers and into the net.
• The dramatic finish came three minutes into stoppage time. With RSL pushing almost everyone forward, defender Nat Borchers found himself unmarked eight yards from goal after Loyd failed to clear, and he curled a right-footed shot into the side netting.
• REAL SALT LAKE (4-3-1-2): Kyle Reynish - Tony Beltran, Jamison Olave, Nat Borchers, Terakazu Tanaka - Ned Grabavoy, Yordany Alvarez, Will Johnson - Luis Gil (Jonny Steele 70) - Fabian Espindola (Sebastian Velasquez 90), Alvaro Saborio.
• FC DALLAS (4-1-4-1): Kevin Hartman - Zach Loyd, George John, Matt Hedges, Jair Benitez - Daniel Hernandez - Jackson, Andrew Jacobson, James Marcelin (Jonathan Top 82), Bryan Leyva (Carlos Rodriguez 79) - Blas Perez.

REAL SALT LAKE
Real Salt Lake went down to defeat for a second consecutive match, a 2-1 loss to Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Saturday evening at BC Place. Real sit in second place in the Western Conference with 42 points from 25 games.

LAST MATCH

HIGHLIGHTS: VAN 2, RSL 1

• Whitecaps FC broke through at the 58-minute mark. An attempted clearance by RSL's Will Johnson ricocheted off Chris Wingert’s back, right into the path of Camilo. He took a touch before hitting a powerful low effort into the bottom right corner to give his side the lead.
• Six minutes later, Dane Richards doubled RSL's misery, curling an effort into the top right corner from just outside the area for the 2-0 advantage. Camilo once again was involved, as his square pass picked out Richards who subsequently found the back of the net.
• In stoppage time, Real's Nat Borchers got up well for a header and converted a Paulo Junior cross for a consolation goal.
• RSL head coach Jason Kreis made two changes to the team that fell 1-0 to the Colorado Rapids at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. Will Johnson came into the midfield for Jonny Steele and Fabian Espindola started up top in place of Justin Braun.
• REAL SALT LAKE (4-3-1-2): Nick Rimando - Tony Beltran, Kwame Watson-Siriboe, Nat Borchers, Chris Wingert - Ned Grabavoy, Kyle Beckerman, Will Johnson (Jonny Steele 75) - Javier Morales (Luis Gil 46) - Fabian Espindola (Paulo Junior 68), Alvaro Saborio.

TEAM NEWS
• Real have now lost four consecutive road games in MLS play, and five games in all competitions away from home. Their last road win was a 3-0 defeat of Chivas USA at The Home Depot Center on June 16.
• “A lot of hard work and determination and grit on our part to try and get a result on the road. It's been quite a few games now since we've done that,” RSL head coach Jason Kreis said. “ … There’s still a little yet to be determined. We have nine games left in our season. We have a CONCACAF match right around the corner, which we place a lot of weight in. We can dwell on what’s happened over the last month and a half as much as we like, but everything’s still there to play for.”
• The goal from Nat Borchers was also the first on the road in league play for RSL since Will Johnson scored in stoppage time in that defeat of Chivas USA, ending a streak of 360 goalless minutes on the road.

WATCH: Chasing the Crown, RSL in the CCL

• “If we had the answer we’d be undefeated,” said Kyle Beckerman. “It’s something you’ve got to work at. I think that winning on the road is really difficult and not many teams do for some reason. We’ll just keep at it and keep working hard and it seems if you can get one, maybe a couple others will come with it, so hopefully we’ll get one.”
• Said RSL defender Ned Grabavoy to the Salt Lake Tribune: “I’m pretty sure we have more away games than home games left. We dropped a few home games uncharacteristically the last month or so … three points is a must.”
• The goal from Borchers was just the second of the last seven goals over the last eight games not scored by a striker. Álvaro Sabório has scored five of those goals; his strike partner, Fabian Espíndola, last scored June 16, when he and Sabório were tied for the team lead with six goals.
• "Positioning-wise, [Espindola is] not putting himself in front of the goal. He has got to figure that out a little bit as we go as well because right now, he's dropping off and doing a ton of playmaking, but he's never in the end in the box to score the goals. It will be hard to score unless he gets himself in front of the goal more often," Kreis said. " ... I think he has just innately decided that he wants to drop a little deeper and try to help the midfield create plays, which is good. He has been effective at doing that, but what it means, is we often times, we don't have the right numbers in front of goal. We have got to either get him to get forward more and do less in the midfield, or get midfielders to get in the box."
• After playing every minute in nine consecutive matches in all competitions, Javier Morales was forced off at halftime in Vancouver, suffering tightness in his adductor. He was not able to participate in full training at the start of the week.
• While Jámison Olave missed a third consecutive match with a hamstring ailment, center back Chris Schuler did return to full training ahead of the FCD match. Schuler has been sidelined since mid-May with a foot injury.
• "That is the nature of professional sports – unfortunate, but injuries happen," said Kreis. "It's not going to affect what we think of Chris Schuler over the long term, but he is going to come back in and have to compete with Kwame [Watson-Siriboe] for consideration on who we play if there are injuries. We also happen to have Mr. [Jámison] Olave down right now, so maybe Schuler comes in before Olave and now Olave has a lot of competition before him.”

FC DALLAS
FC Dallas continued their rise back up the table, getting their second road victory in a 2-0 win against Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Wednesday evening at BC Place. FCD are in sixth place in the Western Conference with 29 points from 26 matches.

LAST MATCH

HIGHLIGHTS: VAN 0, DAL 2

• FC Dallas finally broke the deadlock in the 60th minute. Zach Loyd sent a throw-in to the corner of the penalty area, where David Ferreira flicked it on to Fabián Castillo. He then juked past a couple of ‘Caps defenders before doing well to get off his shot despite falling, slotting the ball in off the post.
• Ten minutes later, FCD made it 2-0 through substitute Jonathan Top. Ferreira made the play once again, holding off Andy O’Brien after racing onto a Jair Benitez ball over the back line, before setting Top up for the clinching goal.
• FC Dallas head coach Schellas Hyndman made two changes to the team that recorded a 3-2 victory against the Colorado Rapids at FC Dallas Stadium. Zach Loyd came back from suspension, along with Daniel Hernandez, into the side for Julian de Guzman and Brek Shea, both in international duty.
• FC DALLAS (4-4-1-1): Kevin Hartman - Hernan Pertuz (Bryan Leyva 78), George John, Matt Hedges, Zach Loyd - Fabian Castillo (Bruno Guarda 83), Andrew Jacobson, Daniel Hernandez, Jair Benitez - David Ferreira - Ruben Luna (Jonathan Top 64).

TEAM NEWS
• It was FC Dallas’ second road win in their four games, and they’ve taken points from three of those four games away from Frisco (2-1-1).
• “I think we're getting a little bit of our swag that we thought we had going into the season,” said midfielder Andrew Jacobson. “I thought everyone stepped up. Everyone played well and played with confidence. That's two wins in a row for us and everyone feels really good going forward.”
• FC Dallas have also won back-to-back games for the first time since April 5-14, when they defeated Montréal and New England.
• “Our game plan going in was that there's not many games left so we knew that we had to get three points, ties aren't good enough anymore,” said defender Zach Loyd. “We came in here wanting to bring the game to them and to possess the ball and set the tempo early and I thought we did a good job of that. Everyone from the forwards to the backline did a really good job.”
• David Ferreira recorded his second two-assist game of the season, his first coming in the 5-0 win vs. Portland on July 21. All five of his assists have come in the last five games.
• “I think you can see it just kind of clicks when he’s in there,” Andrew Jacobson said. “Everyone kind of understands their role, what they’re supposed to do, and it brings a sense of confidence when 11 guys go out there and everyone knows what they’re supposed to be doing. It’s a tough team to play against.”
• Said FCD head coach Schellas Hyndman: “He plays with a lot of heart and determination and it’s everything you want from a player and today he was a difference-maker. The team plays better with him and we’ve improved since he’s been on the field. He’s not a player I worry about. He’s not a player that the game’s too big for him. He’s one of the best players I’ve been around.”
• Homegrown player Jonathan Top scored his first professional goal, shortly after coming on as a substitute. Top was making his third league appearance, his first since May 26.
• “I want to thank David for giving me that assist right there. Any other player I think would've taken that chance and shot it, but he gave me that opportunity to score and it just felt great today to get that goal right there to make sure that we won the game,” said Top.
• Moved forward to the left side of midfield, Jair Benitez collected his first assist of the season, starting the move that ended with the Top goal. He scored his own first MLS goal the weekend before.
• Bryan Leyva and Bruno Guarda each made last substitute appearances, their first in a while. For Leyva, it was his first since June 23; for Guarda, his first since May 23.
• “We were missing three important players, Brek with the national team in Mexico and de Guzman with Canada, and Rodriguez with Panama,” said Top. “I think us younger guys were given the opportunity to step up and we did well with our opportunities. I think [us younger guys] just have to keep working hard and pushing for more minutes.”