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SALT LAKE CITY, Utah.
7:30 pm MT (no TV)
Back home again where they've had all their success this season, Real Salt Lake are still clinging to playoff aspirations with a third of their inaugural season still to be played. Real are unbeaten in their last four home contests, but play host to a Kansas City Wizards club that has suddenly shown signs of throwing off the maddening inconsistency that has plagued their year, walking into both Chicago and New England in their last two games and coming away with victories against the top two clubs in the Eastern Conference.
REFEREE: Kevin Stott. SAR (bench): Greg Barkey; JAR (opposite): Emiliano Monje; 4th: Feliciano Palomino
MLS Career: 116 games; FC/gm: 26.8; Y/gm: 3.4; R: 30; pens: 19
Games involving Real: P1 W0 L1 T0; FC/gm: 24.0; Y/gm: 4.0; R: 1; pens: 0
Games involving Wizards: P17 W8 L8 T1; FC/gm: 23.6; Y/gm: 2.5; R: 3; pens: 3
INJURY REPORT: REAL SALT LAKE - NONE REPORTED ... KANSAS CITY WIZARDS - PROBABLE: MF Alex Zotinca (R quadriceps strain)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
SUSPENDED: RSL: MF Clint Mathis (through Aug. 20); Seth Trembly (21 CP; through Aug. 14)
WARNINGS: RSL: Jason Kreis (17 CP) ... KC: Davy Arnaud (18 CP)
This is the second meeting between the Wizards and expansion Real, the first at Rice-Eccles Stadium, as both meetings in RSL's first season have come within a month.
Coaches record: John Ellinger v KC: P1 W0 L1 D0 ... Bob Gansler vs. RSL: P1 W1 L0 D0
ALL-TIME: (1 meetings): Real 0 wins (0 shootout), 2 goals ... Wizards 1 win (0 shootout), 3 goals ... 0 draws
AT RICE-ECCLES STADIUM: first meeting
The Kansas City Wizards hit early and often in a 3-2 victory against Real Salt Lake on July 16 at Arrowhead Stadium. Real Salt Lake hadn't won in 10 games in all competitions, while the Kansas City Wizards were trying to win back-to-back games for just the second time on the season.
Scott Sealy gave the home side a dream start by being in the right place at the right time. Right back Brian Roberts got off a quick shot that beat D.J. Countess at his near post, but came back off the base of the post. But it bounced right to Sealy, who tapped into the empty goal from close range (8).
But Real pulled level just two minutes later, Chris Brown latching onto a poor clearance and striding into the area before hammering home a looping drive.
Yet the Wizards nosed back in front through bizarre circumstances. A corner was swung in from the left and Countess went out to play it. Under pressure from a trio of K.C. attackers, he slapped the ball back toward his own goal and a pair of Real defenders on the line just couldn't keep it from completely crossing (27).
Then Sealy doubled the lead with his second goal on the night after Preki skipped through three tackles as he meandered through the Real penalty area before sliding the ball to the rookie, who beat another defender before hitting a low shot to the back of the net.
Just before the break RSL got back to within one, a cross from Luke Kreamalmeyer from the left flank finding Jordan Cila at the near post, and he flicked a header home inside the back stick (44). But they could get no closer over the final 45 minutes.
Here's Gansler's team (4-4-2): Bo Oshoniyi - Brian Roberts (Ryan Raybould 79), Shavar Thomas, Nick Garcia, Jose Burciaga Jr. - Preki (Jack Jewsbury 46), Sasha Victorine, Kerry Zavagnin, Chris Klein - Scott Sealy, Davy Arnaud (Ryan Pore 68).
Here's Ellinger's team (4-1-4-1): D.J. Countess, Nelson Akwari, Michael Lookingland, Brian Dunseth, Seth Trembly, Kenny Cutler, Chris Brown, Jason Kreis, Clint Mathis (Jamie Watson 56), Brian Kamler (Luke Kreamalmeyer 34), Jordan Cila (Paul Broome 73)
REAL SALT LAKE
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.
Real head coach John Ellinger made one change to the team that came back to defeat Chivas USA 2-1 the previous Saturday at Rice-Eccles Stadium. With Clint Mathis suspended, Andy Williams moved into the central midfield role and Chris Brown came back into the lineup wide on the right.
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)
"I thought that after we'd scored a goal in the first half, we'd score a lot more in the second half," Ellinger said. "I didn't know if we were going to be able to get that tying goal and then the own goal happened."
Real Salt Lake saw their modest two-game winning streak snapped at the hands of the league's best team record-wise, falling 4-1 to the New England Revolution on Wednesday night at Gillette Stadium. Real are still in fifth place in the Western Conference with 19 points from 21 matches, seven ahead of last-place Chivas USA and still five adrift of the Colorado Rapids for the final playoff spot in the division.
In the buildup to the Revolution match, Clint Mathis was suspended an additional two matches and fined an additional $4750 by the MLS Disciplinary Committee. Mathis was sanctioned for striking at an opponent in the face, failure to leave the field promptly after being ejected, verbally confronting the referee, kicking a soccer ball into the stands, and inappropriate physical confrontation with Isaac Romo prior to the leaving the field in the game against Chivas the previous weekend. Mathis will be out for the Wizards match as well as the Aug. 20 match v San Jose.
Real still have not won away from home this season, with one draw to show for their 11 away contests. "We were coming in here playing one of the best teams in the league. They were confident, but we were coming in like, 'We can try to win one on the road,' Ellinger said.
Ellinger felt his team ran out of gas over the final stretch to provide the final scoreline. "Yeah, we were all hurting. Paul (Broome's) knee was hurting. We were getting tired, definitely," he said. "New England knows how to keep the pressure on you for 90 minutes. But you know, we had our moments. And we really need to learn to capitalize more on them."
KANSAS CITY WIZARDS
The Fire could do wrong for about the opening half-hour of the contest, then could seemingly do no right over the final 60 minutes.
By six minutes in, Chicago held a two-goal lead. In the third minute, Fire midfielder Justin Mapp sprung Thiago for a 25-yard run to goal. As K.C. 'keeper Bo Oshoniyi came out to cut down the angle, Thiago surprised him by chipping a beautiful shot from about 20 yards that made it just over the 'keeper and settled just under the crossbar in the top right corner.
Then three minutes later, Chris Rolfe made a quick run into the middle of the Wizards box and as the defense approached him, he placed a clever ball out to his left which left Reiter to tuck a low, left-footed shot into the far left corner and it looked as if the Wizards were going to be run out of Soldier Field.
But the Wizards pulled a goal back in the 37th minute as Josh Wolff raced onto a long through ball from forward Scott Sealy, just beating Fire 'keeper Zach Thornton to the punch, and chipped a shot in off of the right Fire post from the right side of the area.
They drew level just before the halftime break off of a corner kick scramble in front of the Fire goal. Midfielder Sasha Victorine was the recipient of the lucky bounce from a misdirected Brian Roberts shot.
Then the Wizards completed the comeback in the 68th minute on Wolff's second goal of the evening. He received a ball from midfielder Davy Arnaud to the right of the Fire goal, and he lost his marker with a quick turn to his right and ripped a high, hard shot over and through substitute 'keeper Matt Pickens, who came on to start the second half after Zach Thornton was booked twice right at the end of the opening stanza.
"We certainly started out a little shaky. [The Fire] had two pretty good finishes, but certainly you don't like your posture when you give up two goals in the first six minutes," Wolff said. "After that, we got ourselves back in control of it and had a couple of opportunities before we got our first one.
Wizards boss Bob Gansler made one change to the team that defeated the New England Revolution 2-1 at Gillette Stadium the previous Saturday. Brian Roberts made his third start of the season, coming in for Khari Stephenson at right back.
Here's Gansler's team (4-4-2): Bo Oshoniyi - Brian Roberts, Jimmy Conrad, Shavar Thomas, Jose Burciaga Jr. - Chris Klein, Sasha Victorine (Jack Jewsbury 85), Kerry Zavagnin, Davy Arnaud - Scott Sealy, Josh Wolff (Khari Stephenson 90)
"You have to give credit to our guys and their resilience and their confidence in each other after the first five minutes, which were obviously disastrous. The key was to get one before halftime, but we did it even better than that," Gansler said. "[The Fire] was more energetic than we were initially and they were more alert and it had nothing to do with lineups or tactics or anything else. It had everything to do with us not quite being ready to play. To our credit, we dug deep and we persevered.
The Kansas City Wizards won for the first time ever in Chicago, overcoming a two-goal deficit after just six minutes to claim a 3-2 victory against the Fire on Wednesday night at Soldier Field. With their second win in a row and fourth in six games, the Wizards remained in a tie for third place in the Eastern Conference with 35 points from 22 matches, level with D.C. United, a point behind second-place Chicago and four out of first place.
The Wizards have now gone into Gillette Stadium and Soldier Field - two of the toughest places to play in the league in any circumstances - and come away with victories against the top two teams in the Eastern Conference.
After missing six matches through international duty, Josh Wolff has been involved with four of the last five Wizards goals as they've come away with those two victories.
"I've said it before, he's our catalyst. He doesn't have to score. He makes everyone around him better because of the attention the other folks pay to him," Gansler said. "So whether he lays them off or whether he finishes them, or he just gets in the mix, it doesn't matter. He's our catalyst. We play well with him, but we also have to find a way to win when he's gone. But he's currently in great form."
The Wizards are expected to again have Diego Gutierrez available this weekend. Gutierrez and his wife suffered from carbon monoxide poisoning during the All-Star break, but he should be available for selection for the Real match.