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SALT LAKE CITY, Utah
1 pm MT (ESPN2)
Real Salt Lake begin the home portion of their history in front of what is expected to be a massive, passionate throng. Now the trick will be to translate that into a quality on-field performance, where Real were disappointed with their effort in a 3-1 loss to the Los Angeles Galaxy last weekend. The Colorado Rapids will be looking for a second consecutive stout defensive effort in quieting the Real support, after they shut down the FC Dallas attack last weekend in their home opener, the clubs playing to a scoreless draw.
REFEREE: Brian Hall. SAR (bench): Nate Clement; JAR (opposite): Kermit Quisenberry; 4th: Richard Heron
MLS Career: 88 games; FC/gm: 29.9; Y/gm: 3.3; R: 23; pens: 30
Games involving Real: first game
Games involving Galaxy: P12 W2 L7 T3; FC/gm: 29.8; Y/gm: 2.2; R: 2; pens: 6
INJURY REPORT: REAL SALT LAKE - OUT: DF Jeff Stewart (R knee surgery); MF Andy Williams (L groin pain); PROBABLE: MF Evan Whitfield (R ankle sprain); GK Noah Palmer (R shoulder sprain); DF Sergio Flores (lower back pain); FW Clint Mathis (R knee inflammation) ... COLORADO RAPIDS - QUESTIONABLE: MF Pablo Mastroeni (L hamstring); FW Jean-Philippe Peguero (R ankle sprain); MD Martin Morales (L knee injury); PROBABLE: FW Jeff Cunningham (L knee injury)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
YELLOW PERIL: none
This is the first meeting between the two clubs, in the first match for the Rocky Mountain Cup. They'll next meet on Aug. 26 in Denver, then twice in two weeks at the end of the season to end the first-year rivalry: Oct. 1 at Invesco Field, then Oct. 15 at Rice-Eccles.
Coaches record: Fernando Clavijo vs. RSL: first game ... John Ellinger v COL: first game
ALL-TIME: first meeting
REAL SALT LAKE
It took Donovan just nine minutes to open his Galaxy account. Jovan Kirovski took a pass in the area and laid it back to Donovan at the top of the area, and he clinically drove a low left-footed shot inside the right post.
Jason Kreis pulled Real level when he scored the first goal in club history, swooping in to smash home the rebound after Kevin Hartman failed to hold a low angled drive from Dipsy Selolwane (29).
But then just before the break an opportunistic Donovan put the Galaxy ahead for good (44). A Guillermo Ramirez cross from the left took a deflection and went high into the air, coming down at the back post. Donovan slipped between a defender and goalkeeper D.J. Countess to head home from close range.
Cobi Jones then rounded off the scoreline in the 72nd minute when he scored his first goal since June 14, 2003. Donovan won the ball in midfield before freeing the Galaxy original on the right, and he dribbled into the area before lashing home a low shot inside the far post.
Real coach John Ellinger didn't make any changes to the team that opened the season with a scoreless draw at the MetroStars, but he was forced into a very early change when Andy Williams suffered a groin injury after just 10 minutes, meaning Leighton O'Brien had to come on.
Here's Ellinger's team (4-3-1-2): D.J. Countess - Rusty Pierce, Eddie Pope, Nelson Akwari, Matt Behncke (Luke Kreamalmeyer 46) - Marlon Rojas, Brian Kamler, Dipsy Selolwane (Chris Brown 76) - Andy Williams (Leighton O'Brien 10) - Jason Kreis, Clint Mathis
At halftime, Ellinger made a significant change, bringing Luke Kreamalmeyer to play on the left side of midfield and moving Marlon Rojas to left back. "Tactically, it was a (spot) we needed to improve on," said Ellinger. 'We felt we were getting beat with pace on the left side."
Williams will likely be lost for up to four weeks with the groin strain. Ellinger indicated his absence will probably mean another tactical shuffle. Clint Mathis will probably drop back into the attacking midfield role, with Dipsy Selolwane moving to partner Jason Kreis in attack. "Dipsy is learning a new position," Ellinger said to the Deseret Morning News. "We're in a little patchwork trying to make it work, and (teams) try and expose that."
Ellinger could also make a change in the back, as central defender Brian Dunseth has been given a clean bill of health after playing in last weekend's reserve match. Dunseth was coming off a knee injury, but it held up well as he played the entire match in a 4-2 loss to the Galaxy reserves.
In addition, Kreamalmeyer and Rojas look to reprise their roles on the left as they played in the second half in Carson, while Chris Brown could fill Selolwane's role wide on the right. Mathis though had his knee examined, and his status is listed as probable. If he cannot play, O'Brien will likely come into the first XI.
Heading into the home opener, Ellinger was concerned about the team's attitude in the Galaxy match. "Today the message was sent very clearly and succinctly by coach, that things had to change. Attitudes had to change," said RSL forward Jason Kreis. "It wasn't going to be acceptable to come out of games and say we were just flat. That's not going to be acceptable in his eyes or anyone else."
Kreis has now scored the first goal ever for two clubs. He also scored the first goal for FC Dallas - then the Dallas Burn - on April 18, 1996 against the Kansas City Wizards.
Real could also have another new player available this weekend, as Trinidad & Tobago international Leslie Fitzpatrick is expected to join the club. Fitzpatrick, a speedy left-sided midfielder, was last with the Atlanta Silverbacks of the USL First Division.
Real Salt Lake saw the first goal scored in club history, but also saw the Landon Donovan Show up close and personal as the Los Angeles Galaxy ran away to a 3-1 victory at The Home Depot Center on Saturday night. Real are at the foot of the Western Conference with one point from their two matches, tied with the Colorado Rapids and Chivas USA, three points behind division leaders FC Dallas.
FC Dallas also remained unbeaten on the young season while the Colorado Rapids continued their good form at home. But the game almost took an abrupt change in the first minute when Carlos Ruiz's corner found Eddie Johnson, but his header was denied by the crossbar.
Rapids coach Fernando Clavijo made three changes to the team that suffered a 3-2 loss to the Kansas City Wizards to open the season. Pablo Mastroeni was out with a hamstring injury so Alain Nkong came into central midfield, while Martin Morales had a knee injury, so Mark Chung came on the left of midfield. Jean-Philippe Peguero wasn't available with an ankle injury, so Luchi Gonzalez started in attack.
Here's Clavijo's team (4-4-2): Joe Cannon - Hunter Freeman, Nat Borchers, Guy Melamed, Ritchie Kotschau -Chris Henderson, Kyle Beckerman (Leo Cullen 55), Alain Nkong (Eric Denton 46), Mark Chung - Luchi Gonzalez, Wolde Harris
Clavijo then made another change at the half, when Eric Denton came on the left flank and Mark Chung moved centrally, with Alain Nkong taken off. ""If we play the ball in the air, we're not going to do anything. When we play the ball on the ground, like we did in the second half, we're dangerous," Chung said.
The Rapids haven't lost in their 12 home matches in all competitions, and last year lost just once in Denver. The Rapids have six wins and six draws over that time, their last loss in Invesco Field coming in a 1-0 reverse by the Kansas City Wizards on June 9, 2004.
"I don't know if it was some nervousness with the guys or what it was, but we couldn't keep the ball," Clavijo said. "I thought Dallas had the possession. They moved the ball better."
The day before the match, the Rapids completed the acquisition of two players. Veteran defender Eric Denton was claimed off waivers after he was let go by the Columbus Crew during the offseason, while rookie Sasha Gotsmanov was signed to a developmental contract. Denton is with his fourth MLS team, having also played with D.C. United, Tampa Bay Mutiny and the Crew.
Facing the first home match in Real history - and an expected large crowd - Clavijo hopes his defense will again hold out. "One of the things we need to address is taking the fans out of the game as quickly as we can," Clavijo told The Denver Post. "The longer the game goes 0-0 it becomes our advantage."
The Colorado Rapids claimed the first point on their 2005 season, playing to a scoreless draw with FC Dallas at Invesco Field at Mile High on Saturday night in their home opener. The Rapids are tied with two other teams at the foot of the Western Conference with one point, three behind division-leading FC Dallas.