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SALT LAKE CITY, Utah
7:30 pm MT (WB-56)
Real Salt Lake return home to face the New England Revolution with their defense in tatters, having allowed 14 goals over their last four matches (all losses), conceding five for the second time this season at midweek in a loss to D.C. United. The run started with a 4-1 loss to New England in Foxborough, the Revolution having won three of their last four games, though they will be significantly hit by international absences for their first-ever visit to the Wasatch Front.
REFEREE: Ramon Hernandez. SAR (bench): Fabio Tovar; JAR (opposite): David Bragg; 4th: Gunther Haidenthaller
MLS Career: 7 games; FC/gm: 31.0; Y/gm: 5.6; R: 0; pens: 1
Games involving Real: P1 W0 L1 T0; FC/gm: 40.0; Y/gm: 6.0; R: 0; pens: 0
Games involving Revolution: P2 W2 L0 T0; FC/gm: 34.5; Y/gm: 7.0; R: 0; pens: 1
INJURY REPORT: REAL SALT LAKE - QUESTIONABLE: DF Nelson Akwari (L groin strain); PROBABLE: DF Rustin Pierce (R hamstring strain); MF Chris Brown (L hamstring strain);: DF Eddie Pope (L ankle sprain) ... NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION - OUT: GK Kyle Singer (R shoulder sprain); QUESTIONABLE: FW Ryan Latham (L groin pain); PROBABLE: FW Pat Noonan (L finger fracture); FW Connally Edozien (R MCL sprain)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: RSL: DF Gustavo Cabrera (Guatemala; Sept. 3 v Trinidad & Tobago); MF Nikolas Besagno (U.S. U-17 national team) ... NE: FW Taylor Twellman, MF Clint Dempsey, MF Steve Ralston, GK Matt Reis (USA; Sept. 3 v Mexico); DF Avery John (Trinidad & Tobago; Sept. 3 v Guatemala)
SUSPENDED: RSL: Kenny Cutler (through Sept. 4)
WARNINGS: RSL: Jason Kreis (17 CP); Andy Williams (18 CP)
This is the second meeting all-time between the two clubs, and the only one scheduled this season for Rice-Eccles Stadium.
ALL-TIME (1 meetings): Real 0 wins (0 shootout), 1 goal ... Revolution 1 win (0 shootout), 4 goals ... 0 draws
AT SALT LAKE: first meeting
In the first-ever meeting between the teams, the Revolution strolled to a 4-1 victory against Real less than a month ago, at Gillette Stadium on Aug. 10. The Revolution scored twice within the opening 16 minutes, and despite a thunderous answer from Jason Kreis and spurning numerous chances, scored twice over the final quarter-hour to ease to victory.
Clint Dempsey opened the scoring on 11 minutes. Jay Heaps beat Kenny Cutler for pace, turning the corner to hit a bending ball at the near post and Dempsey, knocking down Rusty Pierce in the process, met the ball to smash his header home. Dempsey celebrated by hopping the signage and doing a Revolutionary jig complete with a period-style hat.
Five minutes later, Twellman gave the Revolution a second. It was a curling corner kick off the boot of Jose Cancela that caught the Real defense flat-footed. Jay Heaps rose at the near post with nary a challenge, and his directed header found the open run of Twellman at the far post to smash home from three yards.
Kreis threw the visitors a lifeline in the 31st minute with a blistering 28-yard effort off a free kick. Twellman conceded the kick at the edge of the area with a rash tackle, and Kreis's low blast to the right corner left Reis with no chance.
But Real conceded a third in the 76th minute as Brian Dunseth was the culprit, heading back towards his own goal from another Heaps header, saw the ball crash onto the crossbar before the deflection fell over the line to restore the Revolution's two-goal advantage.
Khano Smith scored a cracking goal in the 90th minute, as a defensive miscue allowed the Bermudan to beat his marker with a solo run before blasting an angled effort from the left past D.J. Countess at the near post.
Here's Nicol's team (3-4-1-2): Matt Reis - Jay Heaps, Michael Parkhurst, Avery John (James Riley 65) - Steve Ralston, Andy Dorman, Shalrie Joseph, Joe Franchino - Jose Cancela (Khano Smith 76) - Taylor Twellman, Clint Dempsey
Here's Ellinger's team (4-1-3-2): D.J. Countess - Rusty Pierce, Brian Dunseth, Eddie Pope, Paul Broome - Kenny Cutler - Chris Brown (Jamie Watson 75), Andy Williams, Seth Trembly (Leslie Fitzpatrick 87) - Jason Kreis, Jordan Cila (Brian Kamler 46)
Coaches record: Steve Nicol vs. RSL: P1 W1 L0 T0 ... John Ellinger v NE: P1 W0 L1 T0
REAL SALT LAKE
Jaime Moreno took over the lead in the MLS Golden Boot with a pair that gave him 90 for his MLS career, passing former United marksman Roy Lassiter for second in the league's all-time list and moving him 10 behind RSL striker Jason Kreis, the first to hit the century mark.
Moreno converted from the penalty spot after just 14 minutes to give United an early lead, after rookie Real 'keeper Jay Nolly tripped up Christian Gomez after he was put in alone on goal.
Then just before the break, Freddy Adu doubled the United lead when he slammed home a skimming drive from well outside the Real penalty area (46+).
Melvin Tarley pulled RSL back within one with his first MLS goal in his league debut, skipping around United 'keeper Nick Rimando then finishing into an empty net (51).
But Gomez restored the two-goal lead on 63 minutes, poking home his own rebound after Nolly failed to hold his first-time blast from a Josh Gros cross.
Moreno then made it 4-1 after seeing a couple of clear breakaways stopped, also hammering home a low drive from outside the area (78). Jamil Walker provided the final scoreline when the Real defense was once again split open and he clinically finished from inside the area (86).
It could have been even worse: twice Real defender Eddie Pope cleared balls off the line. Real finished the game with 10 men after Kenny Cutler was sent off for a second bookable offense late in the match.
Real head coach John Ellinger made three changes to the team that lost 1-0 at home to the San Jose Earthquakes 10 days before. Eddie Pope returned to central defense, Nelson Akwari moving to play fullback as Rusty Pierce was out to injury. Clint Mathis returned from suspension, coming in for Chris Brown as Andy Williams moved into a wide midfield role, and Melvin Tarley made his MLS debut, partnering Jason Kreis in attack in place of Jordan Cila.
Here's Ellinger's team (4-1-3-2): Jay Nolly - Nelson Akwari (Adolfo Gregorio 41), Brian Dunseth, Eddie Pope, Paul Broome - Kenny Cutler - Andy Williams (Seth Trembly 75), Clint Mathis, Robert Scarlett - Jason Kreis, Melvin Tarley
"Even in the first half we had moments when we played well," he said, "but in the second half, we broke down, we broke down and broke down again. It's just unacceptable. We quit. I'll take full responsibility, because I'm the head coach."
Real Salt Lake fell to one of their most difficult defeats of the season, a fourth consecutive loss as D.C. United rolled to a comprehensive 5-1 victory Wednesday night at RFK Stadium. Real are still in fifth place in the Western Conference with 19 points from 23 matches, still nine points out of the final playoff spot held by the Colorado Rapids and five points ahead of last-place Chivas USA.
Perhaps the most disheartening part of the loss was the response to pulling back within a goal. Despite complete domination from United over the first half, the Tarley put Real within one - until D.C. exploded for three goals over the final half-hour.
"I know I didn't quit," said Eddie Pope. "I think in the second half there wasn't one aspect of the game I think we did correctly. I'm sure from the coaches' standpoint it looks like the team is quitting."
The loss put a real dagger in the Real postseason hopes. Still, there are nine points still on the table between RSL and the Colorado Rapids over the final six weeks of the season, but two of those games will be in Denver.
"It's unrealistic to think about catching Colorado if you have to play two of those three games away and you haven't won an away game," Ellinger said. "Today would've been a nice place for us to start."
Tarley continued his goal-scoring touch against MLS teams when he made his league debut for Real. In the U.S. Open Cup this year, he scored six goals in matches against Real, Colorado Rapids and the Kansas City Wizards for the Minnesota Thunder. By terms of the signing, he will be able to play with the Thunder as they continue into the Open Cup semifinals.
"When you're in the lower division, you always want to show the guys in the higher division that you can do better than them, so you come out with 110, 120 percent," said Tarley to the Deseret Morning News. "Here it's kind of different because everyone is on the same level."
Ellinger was forced into a tactical re-fit when Nelson Akwari went down in the first half with a groin strain. Paul Broome moved from left back to right back, Adolfo Gregorio came into the midfield as he replaced Akwari, and left-sided midfielder Robert Scarlett moved to left back.
"I started the game up front," said Scarlett, "and then the coach put me to play (more) defensively. It's difficult coming back to play my original position, when, usually, over the few weeks I've been with Salt Lake, I've been playing up front ... but I adjusted."
NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION
A slow match burst into life just before the halftime break when Santino Quaranta gave United the lead, finishing off a neat passing sequence with a rasping drive that thundered off the back goal support and back past Revolution reserve 'keeper Doug Warren, making his first start of the season (36).
But the third own goal of the season charged to Bobby Boswell - and second in as many league games - pulled New England level three minutes into the second half when he headed a long ball over goalkeeper Nick Rimando.
Dema Kovalenko was sent off just after the clock ticked over for the full 90 minutes to leave United with 10 men, then four minutes into stoppage time, Taylor Twellman gave his team the victory and pulled into a tie for MLS Golden Boot when he headed home Andy Dorman's cross.
It was the sixth Revolution goal scored in stoppage time this season and one that was as equally as dramatic as Twellman's 92nd-minute goal that gave New England a 3-2 win against FC Dallas on July 16.
Revolution boss Steve Nicol made four changes to the team that lost 2-0 to the Colorado Rapids in Denver 10 days earlier - one forced, and three a bit more welcomed. Doug Warren came in between the posts, replacing the suspended Matt Reis. But the Revolution again had two U.S. internationals in Taylor Twellman and Steve Ralston and Pat Noonan returned from an ankle injury, coming in for Andy Dorman and Marshall Leonard and the suspended Clint Dempsey.
"I wouldn't say that we didn't look dangerous. We were inches away a lot of times from getting good connections. I certainly didn't feel as though we were ineffective, Nicol said. "We were fortunate enough that when someone like Clint (Dempsey) isn't available that we can bring other people in and they'll do a good job for us."
Here's Nicol's team (3-4-1-2): Doug Warren - Jay Heaps, Michael Parkhurst, Avery John - Steve Ralston, Daniel Hernandez, Shalrie Joseph, Joe Franchino (James Riley 67) - Jose Cancela (Andy Dorman 67) - Taylor Twellman, Pat Noonan
"I think, as normal, it was a battle royal out there between us and D.C., because it always is. I think the truth of the matter is that we were fortunate to get the win. As far as the football we played we can play far better than we showed tonight," Nicol said. "But, as usual, we showed that as far as guts and courage and passion, we have it in abundance. That's what won us the game."
The New England increased their advantage atop the Eastern Conference through dramatic circumstances, getting another stoppage-time victory, this time a 2-1 triumph against D.C. United last Saturday at Gillette Stadium. The Revolution now have 45 points from 24 matches, four ahead of the Kansas City Wizards and United in the Eastern Conference and still a point ahead of Western Conference leader San Jose Earthquakes in the race for the Supporters' Shield.
Pat Noonan played for the first time in a league match since July 16, as first national team duty then an ankle injury suffered while with the USA for the Gold Cup has kept him out.
"Well, obviously Pat's been out for five or six weeks, so he certainly had enough strength to get through it. But obviously some more training and some more games and he'll sharpen up, but the two of them did well," Nicol said. "You can't complain. We scored in the last minute. I think, like the rest of us, as a team and as individuals we can all be better than we were tonight."
''It was awesome to have Pat back," said Twellman. ''I love playing with that guy. I was smiling the entire game."
Doug Warren hadn't played a minute until coming on in the 86th minute of the 2-0 loss to Colorado after Matt Reis was sent off, when his first action was picking the ball out of the back of the net when Jean-Philippe Peguero converted a penalty. But Warren was recipient of a victory when the Revolution came back to win - the victory coming against Warren's former team, acquired from United over the offseason.
"It was big for me, because it's obviously against one of the better teams in the league. So to come in and get a game right away and get a win, it does well for anyone, Warren said. "It definitely helps; it gives me a little bit more confidence. Going in, this wasn't a bottom of the table team."
Revolution defender Michael Parkhurst is the only MLS rookie, and one of only seven players in all, to play every minute of their respective teams' games. Parkhurst has now played all 2160 minutes for the Revs.