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Real Salt Lake vs. Toronto FC | MLS Match Preview

REAL SALT LAKE vs TORONTO FC
RIO TINTO STADIUM, Sandy, Utah
March 29, 2013 (WEEK 4, MLS Game #31)
7:30 p.m. MT (KTVA-ABC; TSN2)

One of the more attractive matchups of the early season is ahead on Saturday evening when Real Salt Lake play host to Toronto FC at Rio Tinto Stadium. Real have opened the season with a win and two draws in three games, coming off a 1-1 tie with the LA Galaxy in their home opener last weekend. Toronto FC have raced out with two wins in their opening two games for the first time in club history, coming off a 1-0 win against D.C. United in their home opener.

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REFEREE: Baldomero Toledo. SAR (bench): Mike Rottersman; JAR (opposite): Fabio Tovar; 4th: Drew Fischer
MLS Career: 167 games; FC/gm: 25.2; Y/gm: 3.4; R: 60; pens: 61

DISABLED LIST: none
SUSPENDED: TOR: Jackson (through March 30)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (12 meetings): Real 6 wins, 15 goals … Toronto FC 4 wins, 10 goals … Ties 2
AT SALT LAKE (6 meetings): Real 5 wins, 14 goals … Toronto FC 1 win, 7 goals … Ties 0

LAST YEAR (MLS)
6/29: TOR 0, RSL 1 (Alvarez 45)

  • This is the only league meeting between the teams this season.
  • Real took a 1-0 win at BMO Field last June 29, the only meeting between the teams, the club’s first win ever in Canada.
  • Since a 2-1 TFC win in the first meeting ever between the clubs, in 2007 at Rice-Eccles Stadium, RSL has won five consecutive home games in the series.
  • Coaches record: Jeff Cassar vs. TOR: first game … Ryan Nelsen v RSL: P1 W0 L1 D0

REAL SALT LAKE

Real Salt Lake stayed undefeated to open the campaign, reaching a second consecutive draw in their home opener, a 1-1 result with the LA Galaxy on Saturday afternoon at Rio Tinto Stadium. RSL are in a tie for third place in the Western Conference with five points from three matches.

LAST MATCH

  • Real Salt Lake took the lead in the 19th minute. From a quickly taken free kick, Joao Plata delivered a curling ball to the far side of the six-yard box that found Alvaro Saborio so wide open that he had ample time to set himself before stroking the ball past LA goalkeeper Brian Perk.
  • But the Galaxy drew level in the 35th minute. Racing onto a ball knocked down the right touchline by Juninho, Robbie Keane cut inside of a backpedaling RSL defender at the edge of the area and fired a low strike inside the near post.
  • RSL head coach Jeff Cassar made two changes to the team that was hauled back into a 3-3 draw by the San Jose Earthquakes at Buck Shaw Stadium. Chris Schuler started in central defense in place of Aaron Maund, and Javier Morales came back into the team for Luke Mulholland.
  • REAL SALT LAKE (4-3-1-2): Nick Rimando - Tony Beltran, Chris Schuler, Nat Borchers, Chris Wingert - Ned Grabavoy (Luke Mulholland 77), Kyle Beckerman, Luis Gil - Javier Morales - Joao Plata (Olmes Garcia 36), Alvaro Saborio.

TEAM NEWS

  • Real remained undefeated in club history in home openers. In 10 home games to start the season, RSL is 4-0-6 all-time; at Rio Tinto Stadium, it is 3-0-3.
  • “If you look at the schedule we have to start off the year, it’s pretty daunting. The guys are up for it. If you think taking four points out of six [on the road], we’re pretty pleased with that,” said RSL head coach Jeff Cassar. “We come home and we want to put on a good product for the fans – they deserve that – and I thought we did that. I think the fans saw a team that fought hard. We just need to do a better job taking care of the ball.”
  • Joao Plata set up Alvaro Saborio’s goal; he now has two goals and two assists on the season, the only player in MLS in the top five in both goals and assists.
  • But Plata was forced off just after the half-hour with a hamstring injury; he is expected to miss up to three weeks.
  • “Joao [Plata] and Alvaro [Saborio] have a partnership that’s going really well right now. I thought [Olmes] Garcia came in – I know it’s tough to come in cold and when you’re not prepared to come in ñ but I was proud of his reaction,” said Cassar. “I thought he worked hard. I thought some things didn’t come off offensively, but the effort was there.”
  • Javier Morales was able to return to the Real team after missing the San Jose with a back ailment.
  • “It felt like there was just two teams that didn’t want to lose. It was just a hard-fought game in the midfield. We were just a little bit off in our possession and attacking ideas, but I was really proud of our guys for our defensive shape for most of the game,” said Cassar. “If you look at [the game in] L.A. compared to here, we were much more organized.”
  • Center back Chris Schuler also made his return to the Real team, his first start after first missing the first two games of the year while recovering from offseason ankle surgery.
  • “I thought Schuler had a great game. He was physical with Rob Friend, he won all those battles in the air, good spots. I thought Tony [Beltran] and [Chris] Wingert had a great game as well, and let’s not discount the work that the midfielders did – Kyle Beckerman chasing back getting stuck in defensively,” said center back Nat Borchers. “I think the defensive side of the game was very good. I think the offensive side we need to improve on.”

TORONTO FC

Toronto FC made it two wins on the trot to open the season, defeating D.C. United 1-0 on Saturday afternoon in their home opener at BMO Field. TFC sit in a tie atop the Eastern Conference, with six points from two matches.

LAST MATCH

  • The game's lone goal came on the hour. Michael Bradley slipped a weighted pass through the center to Gilberto, whose shot was saved by United goalkeeper Bill Hamid. But the ball rebounded to the foot of Jermain Defoe, who slotted home into the unguarded goal.
  • Toronto FC goalkeeper Julio Cesar was called upon to make two saves for the match.
  • TFC head coach Ryan Nelsen made one change to the team that came away with a 2-1 win against Seattle Sounders FC at CenturyLink Field. Gilberto came into the team in place of Dwayne De Rosario.
  • TORONTO FC (4-4-2): Julio Cesar - Mark Bloom, Doneil Henry, Steven Caldwell, Justin Morrow - Jackson, Jonathan Osorio, Michael Bradley, Alvaro Rey (Bradley Orr 83) - Gilberto (Dwayne De Rosario 63), Jermain Defoe.

TEAM NEWS

  • Toronto FC have won their opening two games in a season for the first time in the club’s eight-year history.
  • “I thought our performance was really good,” said TFC manager Ryan Nelsen. “It’s been a little bit of an awkward game for us, when you know the expectations would be high and we knew the crowd would be out, we knew the field and we knew the conditions and it was going to be game where who made the mistake and who took the chance. It was always just going to be that.”
  • Toronto FC striker Jermain Defoe continued his brilliant start in MLS, scoring his third goal in two games in the win against D.C. United. Defoe has scored all three of TFC’s goals this season.
  • “It’s a day I’ll never forget,” Defoe said. “I was so much looking forward to the game at home, to see the fans and before the game you just hope you can give something back. ... You can’t score every chance you get. You’ve just got to stay cool and wait for your next chance and when you get the next one, just make sure you score.”
  • All three of TFC’s offseason Designated Player acquisitions were on display, as Gilberto partnered Defoe in attack, with Michael Bradley in the midfield.
  • “He’s not 100 percent, won’t be 100 percent for a good four, five games,” Nelsen said. “All the other guys have had a bit of preseason but Gilberto hasn’t. We need to get him up to speed fitness-wise, and obviously just give him minutes on the ball.”
  • Said Bradley: “I thought they were both really sharp. They both worked their movement was really good. I thought as far as playing off of each other they did a really good job. You only have to look at the goal to see. Gilberto makes a great little run and is in on goal and Jermain is right there with him and when the keeper makes the save and Jermain's right there. I think those two are going continue to get better and better.”
  • In addition, Brazilian international goalkeeper Julio Cesar recorded his first shutout in MLS since coming to the club in the offseason.