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Preview: RSL eye West's second seed in season finale

RSL-v_VAN, Oct. 27, 2012

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REAL SALT LAKE vs VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC
RIO TINTO STADIUM, Sandy, Utah
October 27, 2012 (WEEK 33, MLS Game #320)
7 p.m. MT (KUCW-30; SNET One)

Their MLS Cup Playoffs futures decided, Real Salt Lake and Vancouver Whitecaps FC will be looking to head into the postseason on a high note when the clubs meet Saturday evening at Rio Tinto Stadium. Real know they will be facing Seattle in a Western Conference Semifinal Series – who they battled to a scoreless draw in their last league match 10 days ago. Whitecaps FC have a Knockout Round match ahead against defending champion LA Galaxy next week, clinching the club’s first playoff berth despite a 1-0 home loss to Portland last weekend.

DOWNLOAD FULL GAME GUIDE (PDF)

REFEREE: Baldomero Toledo. AR1 (bench): Corey Rockwell; AR2 (opposite): Corey Parker; 4th: Allen Chapman
MLS Career: 145 games; FC/gm: 25.0; Y/gm: 3.4; R: 48; pens: 52

INJURY REPORT

REAL SALT LAKE – OUT: GK Lalo Fernandez (R wrist fracture); DOUBTFUL: DF Kwame Watson-Siriboe (R leg strain); DF Jamison Olave (L quad strain); QUESTIONABLE: MF Ned Grabavoy (R quad strain); PROBABLE: DF Chris Wingert (turf toe); DF Tony Beltran (R knee soreness); FW Fabian Espindola (general soreness) …

VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC – NONE REPORTED

INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none

SUSPENDED: none

WARNINGS:
FINED NEXT YELLOW CARD: RSL: Tony Beltran, Javier Morales, Alvaro Saborio … VAN: Camilo, Gershon Koffie

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (4 meetings): Real Salt Lake 2 wins, 5 goals … Whitecaps FC 2 wins, 6 goals … Ties 0
AT SALT LAKE (2 meetings): Real Salt Lake 2 wins, 4 goals … Whitecaps FC 0 wins, 1 goal … Ties 0

2012 (MLS): 7/27: RSL 2, VAN 1 (Saborío 33, 58 – Mattocks 52); 8/11: VAN 2, RSL 1 (Camilo 58; Richards 64 – Borchers 93+)
•    The teams are meeting for a third time season, after playing twice in the span of two weeks at midseason. RSL took a 2-1 decision on July 27 at Rio Tinto Stadium on a pair of goals by Alvaro Saborío, then Camilo and Dane Richards scored twice in short order for a 2-1 Whitecaps FC victory, Aug. 11 at BC Place.
•    The home team has won each of the four meetings thus far in the series. The teams split their two meetings in Whitecaps FC’s inaugural MLS season. RSL won 2-0 at Rio Tinto Stadium, while Vancouver won 3-0 at BC Place in a match postponed from Empire Field because of a waterlogged pitch.
•    Coaches record: Martin Rennie vs. RSL: P2 W1 L1 D0 … Jason Kreis vs. VAN: P4 W2 L2 D0

LAST MEETING
•    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.
•    VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC (4-2-3-1): Brad Knighton - Lee Young-Pyo, Jay DeMerit (Andy O'Brien 31), Martin Bonjour, Alain Rochat - Jun Marques Davidson, Gershon Koffie - Dane Richards, Barry Robson, Camilo (Russell Teibert 86) - Darren Mattocks (Kenny Miller 72).
•    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.

REAL SALT LAKE
Real Salt Lake return to league play after a weekend off, stretching their unbeaten streak to four games last time out in a scoreless draw with Seattle Sounders FC at CenturyLink Field. Real are in a tie for second place in the Western Conference with 56 points from 33 games.

LAST MATCH
•    Sounders FC went a man down after just 30 minutes when defender Zach Scott was a second yellow card in the 30th minute, first pulling Fabian Espindola back on a potential breakaway on 10 minutes, then coming in from behind on Javier Morales.
•    Sounders FC goalkeeper Michael Gspurning was called upon to make a season-high five saves, including three over the game's final 10 minutes to preserve the draw, the best coming in stoppage time when he parried a deflected shot from Sebastian Velasquez.
•    RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando was credited with two saves in keeping the clean sheet.
•    RSL head coach Jason Kreis made one change to the team that came back for a 2-1 win against the LA Galaxy at The Home Depot Center. Emiliano Bonfigli started up top in place of Alvaro Saborio.
•    REAL SALT LAKE (4-3-1-2): Nick Rimando - Tony Beltran, Jamison Olave (Chris Schuler 46), Nat Borchers, Chris Wingert - Luis Gil (David Viana 82), Kyle Beckerman, Jonny Steele - Javier Morales - Emiliano Bonfigli (Sebastian Velasquez 71), Fabian Espindola.

TEAM NEWS
•    With the draw, Real now knows their playoff future – they will again face Seattle in the Western Conference Semifinal Series. Who hosts the first match will be determined in the league’s final weekend.
•    “One point was our baseline objective coming into the night. We felt if we could get one point, we could control our own destiny in the last week of the season, and make sure we don't have to play that wild card game,” said RSL head coach Jason Kreis. “I'm a bit of a perfectionist, look at it and say being up a man for sixty some odd minutes, we probably should score a goal.”
•    The teams met a season ago in the conference semis, Real advancing on aggregate after winning the first leg 3-0 at home, then losing 2-0 in the return match in Seattle.
•    “I believe because it's going to be different. It will be do or die. I think it's going to be different and it depends on who finishes in the second place and the third, so it's going to be very important,” said Javier Morales. “Now we're in the second place and maybe we have to play the last game at home. I hope we try to beat them if we have to play Seattle again.”
•    While Kreis had all of his internationals back in the fold following their midweek national team matches, he opted to keep Alvaro Saborio (Costa Rica) and Will Johnson (Canada) out of the team.
•    “It's a bit of a challenge. … Will is the type of player that when he gets time and space can run the ball at defensive players in the midfield and make them choose. I think we were just missing a little bit of that. With Sabo, we all know what important player he is for us, with the way he holds the ball up for us and gives us a target to play to up front and with his finishing touches around the goal,” said Kreis. “That doesn't take away from the efforts that everyone else gave us tonight, everyone had another positive performance in my eyes.”
•    Emiliano Bonfigli made his first career MLS start in attack, after nine league appearances as a substitute.
•    Sebastian Velasquez made his first league appearance since July 14, coming on as a substitute for the final 19 minutes.
•    On Tuesday, Real were eliminated from the knockout phase of the CONCACAF Champions League following a scoreless draw with CS Herediano of Costa Rica at Rio Tinto Stadium.
•    Here’s the RSL team: Nick Rimando; Tony Beltran, Chris Schuler (Kenny Mansally 62), Nat Borchers, Chris Wingert; Kyle Beckerman; Luis Gil (Jonny Steele 68), Will Johnson (Sebastian Velasquez 73); Javier Morales; Fabian Espindola, Paulo Junior.

VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC
Vancouver Whitecaps FC weren’t able to build on a win, but achieved their larger goal despite a 1-0 loss to the Portland Timbers on Sunday afternoon at BC Place. Whitecaps FC are in fifth place in the Western Conference with 42 points from 33 games.

LAST MATCH
•    The game's only goal came in the 39th minute. Taking a pass laid off by Franck Songo'o, Jack Jewsbury hit a screamer from all of 25 yards out into the top right corner past Whitecaps FC goalkeeper Brad Knighton, who had no chance.
•    Whitecaps FC head coach Martin Rennie made no changes to the team that recorded a resounding 4-0 win against Chivas USA at BC Place.
•    VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC (4-3-1-2): Brad Knighton - Lee Young-Pyo, Andy O'Brien, Jay DeMerit, Jordan Harvey - Matt Watson (Omar Salgado 77), Alain Rochat (Dane Richards 61), Gershon Koffie - Barry Robson - Camilo (Darren Mattocks 67), Kenny Miller.

TEAM NEWS
•    While Whitecaps FC weren’t able to secure their postseason berth on their own, the club did learn it had reached the MLS Cup Playoffs in its second season in the league following Seattle’s 3-1 win over FC Dallas.
•    “As disappointed as we are with how we performed tonight, over the course of the season, we’ve done well,” head coach Martin Rennie said. “Things like winning our first game on the road early in the season, those points all add up and they all came to fruition for us to reach the playoffs.”
•    Whitecaps FC will now face the LA Galaxy in the Knockout Round match, a team they have lost to in four of five meetings all-time, having scored just two goals while conceding 14.
•    “We’re going to be the underdogs for sure and we know that,” Rennie said. “A lot of times, the team that’s the underdog and maybe the team that scrapes its way into the playoffs is a team that can be dangerous and a team that is hard to play against.”
•    It was the sixth attacking shutout for Whitecaps FC over the final nine matches of the season, their third in their last five games at BC Place.
•    “We had too many people who didn’t perform to their highest standard. We didn’t create enough chances and when we did put the ball in the box we didn’t have people in the right places in the box. They broke the game up and they were good at doing that,” said Rennie. “We didn’t manage to exploit it with good possession and we found ourselves playing longer balls than we usually ever do.”
•    Said defender Jordan Harvey: “I wouldn’t say it was frustrating – we just came off a game where we scored four goals. Today was disappointing, but it was one game. We will come back next game with the same enthusiasm and effort and hopefully it will click for us.”
•    Whitecaps FC also saw their run of back-to-back clean sheets put to a stop, the Jewsbury goal the first allowed in 212 minutes.
•    “Obviously it’s not the result we wanted to see in front of our home fans. It’s a tough one to swallow. Other than their only goal, they didn’t have any chances attacking wise. I thought we defended really well, but one lapse, one goal and it’s in the back of the net,” said goalkeeper Brad Knighton. “ … It seems every time I’m in goal, I’m giving up a goal of the week. Credit to Jewsbury, it was a great strike. We just didn’t take our chances here and we’re left one-nil down.”