Expansion rivals duel in Salt Lake
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah
4 pm MT (ESPN2)
Interesting subplots abound as the two expansion clubs come out of their first-ever All-Star break with a meeting on ESPN2's Soccer Saturday. The home team has won each of the three previous meetings between the new gangs - but the last one as left some bitter memories with Real Salt Lake, as Chivas USA rolled to a 5-1 victory. Both teams still have playoff aspirations, but each needs three points Saturday to keep that dream within reach. In addition, the 5,000th goal in MLS history will likely be scored in the match - the total through nine-plus seasons of league play is at 4,998.
REFEREE: Ricardo Salazar. SAR (bench): Chris Strickland; JAR (opposite): Jose Corro; 4th: Feliciano Palomino
MLS Career: 38 games; FC/gm: 32.6; Y/gm: 3.8; R: 8; pens: 14
Games involving Real: P1 W0 L1 T0; FC/gm: 26.0; Y/gm: 5.0; R: 0; pens: 0
Games involving Chivas USA: P1 W0 L0 T1; FC/gm: 44.0; Y/gm: 5.0; R: 0; pens: 0
INJURY REPORT: REAL SALT LAKE - PROBABLE: DF Eddie Pope (L ankle sprain); DF Rustin Pierce (R hamstring strain); GK D.J. Countess (R ankle sprain) ... CHIVAS USA - OUT: FW Matt Taylor (L adductor strain); MF Hector Cuadros (concussion); DF Victor Arbelaez (L adductor strain)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
WARNINGS: RSL: Jason Kreis (17 CP); Kenny Cutler (10 CP in 2 gms), Seth Trembly (19 CP) ... CHV: Thiago Martins (10 CP in 2 gms); Hector Cuadros (16 CP)
ALL-TIME (3 meetings): Real 1 win (0 shootout), 3 goals ... Chivas 2 wins (0 shootout), 6 goals ... 0 draws
AT RICE-ECCLES STADIUM: Real 1 wins (0 shootout), 2 goals ... Chivas 0 wins (0 shootout), 0 goals ... 0 draws
This is the third meeting between the expansion clubs and the second at The Home Depot Center, the first in a span of less than a month. Their final league meeting will come on Aug. 6 in Utah.
Each team has maintained home dominance in their expansion derby, Chivas USA winning 1-0 at home May 7, then Real Salt Lake claiming a 2-0 win at home just 11 days later, before Chivas USA hammered RSL 5-1 in their last meeting in Carson on July 9.
Chivas USA won their first-ever game in club history, using a first-half penalty kick for the only goal of the game as they defeated Real Salt Lake in a meeting of the league's two newest teams.
The first match between the expansion clubs was a crazy affair. Chivas USA took a lead for the first time ever at home in the 39th minute from the penalty spot. Real Salt Lake defender Marlon Rojas was ruled to have knocked down a cross with his hand on the edge of the area, and Hector Cuadros finished from the spot.
Real finished with 10 men - but through bizarre circumstances. Goalkeeper D.J. Countess was injured in the 80th minute when he fell awkwardly on his shoulder - but coach John Ellinger had already used his three substitutions. That meant Brian Kamler had to pick up the gloves and go between the posts, but he was not called upon to make a single stop.
Real Salt Lake got their revenge in a rematch of the expansion rivals with a 2-0 victory at Rice-Eccles Stadium on May 18.
Real scored a pair of goals two minutes apart in the first half while nearly completely shutting down the Chivas USA attack. Andy Williams gave the home side the lead on 27 minutes, Chris Brown bursting into the box from the right and pulling Brad Guzan off his line before sliding a pass across to Williams, who tapped home easily for his goal with RSL.
A pair of players making their first Real starts teamed up two minutes later. Jordan Cila got out of the corner before driving a low ball to the near post where Seth Trembly came sliding in to knock it home.
Chivas USA were held without a single shot on goal for the entire match, as Real 'keeper D.J. Countess wasn't called upon to make a save in his return to the lineup. He was saved by the woodwork, however, a 30th-minute shot from Hector Cuadros hitting the inside of the post before bouncing back to the RSL shot-stopper.
Chivas USA won for the first time since May 7 while Real Salt Lake saw their winless streak extended to nine games, Chivas exploding all of their frustration in a 5-1 victory, matching the league-high in goals in a game this season.
Chivas opened the lead after just five minutes through an unfortunate own goal. Matt Taylor latched onto a clearance and drove a low cross back into a crowded goalmouth where it deflected off Brian Kamler's leg into the goal. Then Chivas doubled their lead barely after a quarter-hour was gone, Thiago Martins pulled back in the box by Real defender Cameron Knolwes and Hector Cuadros converting the resulting penalty (17).
Real pulled a goal back midway through the first half, as Clint Mathis hammered a low free kick past the wall and off the inside of the left-hand post of Chivas 'keeper Brad Guzan and into the goal (23).
But Chivas hit for two goals in three minutes shortly after the restart to seal the match. Cuadros found Martinez with a terrific pass as Chivas quickly swung the play from right to left, and after he skipped into the area unmolested he beat Countess on an angled shot from inside the area (53). Then two minutes later the highly influential Taylor found the back of the net, working a give-and-go with Cuadros to perfection, collecting a neat backheel before knocking home a close-range shot.
Isaac Romo rounded out the scoreline in the 84th minute. Taylor intercepted a clearance and slipped a pass between a defender's legs to the substitute, who coolly sent a hard shot from close range past Countess.
Here's Westerhof's team (3-3-3-1): Brad Guzan - Ezra Hendrickson, Francisco Gomez, Armando Begines - Esteban Arias (Alfonso Loera 68), Ramon Ramirez, Antonio Martinez - Matt Taylor, Hector Cuadros, Francisco Mendoza - Thiago Martins (Isaac Romo 71)
Here's Ellinger's team (4-1-3-2): D.J. Countess - Nelson Akwari, Cameron Knowles, Matt Behncke (Leslie Fitzpatrick 63), Brian Kamler - Kenny Cutler - Chris Brown (Dipsy Selolwane 71), Clint Mathis, Seth Trembly - Jamie Watson (Dante Washington 77), Jason Kreis
The last time MLS had expansion teams, they opened the season against each other, the Chicago Fire claiming a 2-0 victory against the Miami Fusion at Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale on March 21, 1998. The expansion teams faced each other one other time that season, the Fusion returning the favor with a 3-2 win on Sept. 2, 1998 at Soldier Field.
Coaches record: Hans Westerhof vs. RSL: P1 W1 L0 D 0 ... John Ellinger v CHV: P3 W1 L2 D 0
REAL SALT LAKE
Real Salt Lake enter the second half of the season in fifth place in the Western Conference with 16 points from 19 games, five points out of the final playoff spot, four points ahead of last-place Chivas USA. In their final match before the All-Star break, they snapped a 10-game MLS winless streak, winning for the first time since May 18 in a 3-0 victory against West leader FC Dallas on July 23 at home.
After allowing two goals in the dying minutes the week before to turn an apparent victory into a 3-2 loss to New England, FC Dallas allowed three goals in the opening half-hour to Real - all from free kicks.
Real took the lead after just three minutes. After a foul on the left touchline, Clint Mathis drove in a low cross into the FCD penalty area. Brian Dunseth was able to separate himself from Steve Jolley and turned home his second goal of the year.
RSL then struck twice in four minutes. First, after Andy Williams was fouled on the right touchline and while the Dallas defense was still organizing, Williams stepped up and whipped in a quick kick into the box. The quick restart caught FCD off guard as Jordan Cila snuck into the middle of the goalmouth to put a head on the ball, again catching Garlick flat-footed (26).
Then Clint Mathis hit for a stunning goal, his free kick from all of 35 yards straight out from goal sliding past the end of the wall, skidding on the turf and past Garlick's outstretched dive just inside the near post (30).
After the break, D.J. Countess played the hero, making a number of acrobatic saves while getting battered himself, twice attended to before finally limping off the field with his fourth shutout of the campaign with seven saves on the night.
Real coach John Ellinger made two changes to the team that lost 3-2 to the Kansas City Wizards the weekend before at Arrowhead Stadium. Paul Broome made his first RSL start, coming into the back four for Michael Lookingland, while Andy Williams returned from international duty, starting for Brian Kamler.
Here's Ellinger's team (4-2-3-1): D.J. Countess - Chris Brown, Nelson Akwari, Brian Dunseth, Paul Broome - Kenny Cutler, Seth Trembly - Andy Williams, Clint Mathis (Brian Kamler 67), Jordan Cila (Jamie Watson 77) - Jason Kreis
"We had a good start and played well the entire half, we didn't start to sit back until the second half. What a great win going into the break, we need to build on this win," Ellinger said.
Having allowed 14 goals in their previous three matches - all losses - RSL scored three goals in the opening half hour then kept one the league's most potent attacks at bay for the win against FCD. "I think the key for us tonight was that everyone on the field played defense," said RSL defender Brian Dunseth. "We are a better team than one that gives up five or six goals a game and tonight we proved that."
The addition of ex-Galaxy defender Paul Broome helped shore up what had been a weak left side. "Paul played a great game tonight," said Ellinger. "We can definitely go ahead with him as our starting left back."
During the All-Star break, Real made two significant international signings, as they signed Guatemalan international defender Gustavo Cabrera and Jamaican defender Robert Scarlett. Cabrera, 25, has spent his club career with Comunicaciones of his native country and has been a regular in central defense with the national team for six years. The 26-year-old Scarlett is a speedy flank defender who started with Harbour View FC in Jamaica, also spending a brief period with Spartak Moscow in Russia.
"Each of these players solidified their standing in our eyes with their recent Gold Cup performances," said RSL coach John Ellinger. "We had submitted discovery claims on each player several months ago, expecting them to be eligible for the second half of our season, and their play with Guatemala and Jamaica during the month of July in the CONCACAF Gold Cup warrants their addition to our team as we make the playoff push in August and September."
Both players will not be available until after the international transfer window opens on Aug 15, as well as midfielder Adolfo Gregorio, whose signing from Darlington from England's League Two (fourth tier) was finally completed over the break as well.
Chivas USA enter the second half of the season in sixth place in the Western Conference with 12 points from 20 matches, four behind fifth-place Real Salt Lake and nine out of the final playoff spot currently held by the Colorado Rapids. In their last game before the All-Star break, Chivas won for the second time in three games, knocking off the New England Revolution 1-0 on July 22 at The Home Depot Center.
Chivas USA completed their most successful month in club history while again frustrating the New England Revolution, a first-half goal from Douglas Sequeira all they needed for victory.
Antonio Martinez - a threat all night long on the left flank for Chivas - beat his marker before whipping in a cross that Sequeira flashed in to head home at the near post for the game's only goal (38).
It gave Chivas a split of the season series - they lost just 1-0 to the Revolution on a late goal in April - while they won their second league match and third in all competitions in July.
Chivas USA head coach Hans Westerhof made three changes to the team that lost 2-0 to the Los Angeles Galaxy the weekend before. Douglas Sequeira returned from international duty, coming into midfield for Esteban Arias, while Ramon Ramirez returned from suspension, coming in for Thiago Martins and Arturo Torres returned to the team for the injured Matt Taylor.
Here's Westerhof's team (3-3-3-1): Brad Guzan - Ezra Hendrickson, Francisco Gomez, Armando Begines - Jesus Ochoa, Douglas Sequeira, Francisco Mendoza - Arturo Torres (Milton Blanco 83), Ramon Ramirez (Esteban Arias 68), Antonio Martinez - Isaac Romo (Hector Cuadros 68)
"In the first half, like in the game against the Galaxy, we took the initiative. We played more in their half of the field than in ours," Westerhof said. "We defended well. I think (Armando) Begines and Ezra (Hendrickson) and Paco (Francisco Gomez) did a great job, especially in the first half. I don't remember one chance for them (in the first half).
Chivas headed into the All-Star break on the backs of the best month in club history. They split their four league games, as well as winning their first-ever U.S. Open Cup match.
"Hans coming in and bringing in the intensity and raising the level of play and the expectations of each individual on the team plays a role," Chivas USA goalkeeper Brad Guzan said. "Also, everyone's been together for so long that it's starting to show on the field, which is good."
On Wednesday, Chivas USA was dumped out of the U.S. Open Cup after losing 5-2 to the Los Angeles Galaxy at The Home Depot Center's Track & Field Stadium on Wednesday night. Douglas Sequeira gave Chivas a lead after just four minutes when he headed home a corner kick, but Cobi Jones pulled the Galaxy level eight minutes later when pumped a poor clearance home.
Then Chivas again took the lead when Ramon Ramirez curled home a free kick on 20 minutes, but Joseph Ngwenya finished off a semi-breakaway to again draw the Galaxy even (36).
Just before the break, Herculez Gomez again scored, picking off a pass before firing a long-range effort to give the Galaxy the lead. After squandering numerous chances throughout the second half, the Galaxy killed off the match with two late goals, Landon Donovan punishing a poor back pass (89) then Chris Albright finishing off the contest with a stoppage time strike.
Here's Westerhof's team: Brad Guzan; Ezra Hendrickson, Francisco Gomez, Douglas Sequiera, Armando Begines; Jesus Ochoa (60: Esteban Arias), Ramon Ramirez (capt.), Francisco Mendoza; Arturo Torres (60: Milton Blanco), Isaac Romo, Antonio Martinez