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Eastern Conference Championship

RSL aim for revenge vs. Chivas USA

RICE-ECCLES STADIUM

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah

7:30 pm MT (no TV)

When these two teams took leave of each other last, it was Chivas USA riding the high of a landmark victory. Now it's Real Salt Lake riding that same high. Chivas USA won the first meeting between the expansion franchises two Saturdays ago, the first win in club history, but come after a disappointing late loss in Colorado. Real pulled themselves up from the disappointment of that loss to Chivas to rebound for a come-from-behind victory against the Western Conference-leading Los Angeles Galaxy last weekend, a second victory on the Wasatch Front this season.

REFEREE: Brian Hall. SAR (bench): Paul Scott; JAR (opposite): Corey Rockwell; 4th: Feliciano Palomino

MLS Career: 92 games; FC/gm: 29.8; Y/gm: 3.3; R: 24; pens: 30

Games involving Real: P1 W1 L0 T0; FC/gm: 28.0; Y/gm: 2.0; R: 0; pens: 0

Games involving Chivas USA: P1 W0 L1 T0; FC/gm: 33.0; Y/gm: 4.0; R: 1; pens: 0
INJURY REPORT: REAL SALT LAKE - OUT: GK Noah Palmer (R shoulder cartilage tear); PROBABLE: GK D.J. Countess (L shoulder subluxation); DF Rustin Pierce (L hamstring tightness); MF Leslie Fitzpatrick (L groin strain) ... CHIVAS USA - OUT: MF Michael Muñoz (L ankle sprain); QUESTIONABLE: DF Michael Erush (sports hernia surgery)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: RSL: MF Leslie Fitzpatrick, DF Marlon Rojas (Trinidad & Tobago, v Alianza Lima [PER] May 18)
SUSPENDED: RSL: Jason Kreis (through May 18; 11 CP in 3 gms)
YELLOW PERIL: none

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (1 meeting): Real 0 wins (0 shootout), 0 goal ... Chivas 1 win (0 shootout), 1 goal ... 0 draws
AT RICE-ECCLES: first meeting

• This is the second meeting between the expansion clubs, the first two coming in an 11-day span. They'll then meet again twice in the space of a month in the second half of the season, a July 9 match at The Home Depot Center and an Aug. 6 game in Utah.

• 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: Thomas Rongen vs. RSL: P1 W1 L0 D0 ... John Ellinger v CHV: P1 W0 L1 D 0
LAST MEETING

• 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 on May 14 at The Home Depot Center.

• 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.

• Here's Thomas Rongen's team (4-3-3): Brad Guzan - Ezra Hendrickson, Alfonso Loera, Ryan Suarez, Armando Begines - Douglas Sequeira, Ramon Ramirez (Jesus Ochoa 85), Orlando Perez - Hector Cuadros, Thiago Martins, Francisco Mendoza

• Here's John Ellinger's team (4-3-2-1): D.J. Countess - Nelson Akwari, Eddie Pope, Brian Dunseth (Dipsy Selolwane 72), Marlon Rojas - Chris Brown, Brian Kamler, Leslie Fitzpatrick - Andy Williams (Leighton O'Brien 46), Clint Mathis (Evan Whitfield 31) - Jason Kreis

REAL SALT LAKE

Real Salt Lake won their second match in club history, coming from behind to record a 2-1 victory against the Los Angeles Galaxy and end their four-match winning streak. Real continues in fourth place in the Western Conference with eight points from seven matches, four points behind joint leaders FC Dallas and Galaxy, now two behind third-place San Jose Earthquakes.

• Real's victory was backstopped by goalkeeper Jay Nolly, making his professional debut. Jovan Kirovski put the Galaxy in front after 39 minutes, tapping home from close range after Chris Albright's cross from the right wasn't dealt with and then helped on by Peter Vagenas - who minutes earlier had a shocking miss in front of an empty goal.

• But after the break, Real pulled level when Eddie Pope came driving into the box to poke home a chest-high deflection of a corner kick (49), then in the 65th minute, a perfectly-weighted ball from Clint Mathis from his own end over the Galaxy defense found Jason Kreis, and his lovely side-foot volley on the run chipped Kevin Hartman to put Real in front with his 95th career goal.

• "The first half was a little shaky at times," Mathis said. "But we came out in the second half wanting to win the game, and that has been the difference from the rest of the games this season. We really wanted to win this, to come back from a goal down against probably one of the top two or three teams in this league. It was a good win for us."

• Real coach John Ellinger made two changes to the team that lost 1-0 to Chivas USA the previous weekend. Jay Nolly came in for D.J. Countess, forced to leave the Chivas match late with a shoulder injury, while Rustin Pierce came in at right back, Nelson Akwari moving to the left as Marlon Rojas returned to the subs bench.

• Here's Ellinger's team (4-1-4-1): Jay Nolly - Rustin Pierce, Brian Dunseth, Eddie Pope, Nelson Akwari - Brian Kamler (Seth Trembly 84) - Chris Brown (Evan Whitfield 89), Clint Mathis, Andy Williams, Leslie Fitzpatrick (Marlon Rojas 77) - Jason Kreis

• "Players as a group collectively just felt that it was time to make believers out of everybody else," said RSL coach John Ellinger. "We believe in ourselves as a group. Tonight we were hoping to make believers out of everyone else."
TEAM NEWS

• Countess has been upgraded to probable, meaning he will likely return between the posts for the rematch against Chivas. But after his performance against Los Angeles, Ellinger was very high on rookie Nolly. "Jay was just special tonight and that is the whole reason we wanted him in the SuperDraft. It is ironic that we got the draft pick from L.A. to get him. He made us look good tonight," Ellinger said.

• Down a goal, Galaxy coach Steve Sampson brought on Naldo da Conceicao for Peter Vagenas, and moved Landon Donovan into a deeper-lying role. Ellinger countered by moving Rustin Pierce into a man-marking role on Donovan for the final 20 minutes.

• "He went into midfield to try to get some space," Pierce said to The Salt Lake Tribune. "We have tons of good defenders, and Coach knows that I've played defensive midfield before, so he just pushed me in there. ... I'm very comfortable there."

• Real will be without their two Trinidad & Tobago internationals - midfielder Leslie Fitzpatrick and defender Marlon Rojas - as they've been called in by their country in advance of the upcoming World Cup qualifying matches. T&T play Peruvian club Alianza Lima in a friendly this week, which will be the first match under new technical director Leo Beenhakker.

• For Pope, it was his first MLS goal since Aug. 31, 2002, when he scored for D.C. United v. San Jose.

• Rookie goalkeeper Noah Palmer is set to undergo season-ending surgery on his shoulder this week. With D.J. Countess unavailable with a shoulder injury of his own last weekend, Real brought in 'keeper Clint Baumstark, under a league contract as an emergency replacement in goal.

CHIVAS USA

Chivas USA were unable to build on the first-ever victory in club history, a late goal giving the Colorado Rapids a 2-1 victory in Denver last weekend. Chivas USA are still in last place in the Western Conference with four points from seven matches, now eight points behind joint leaders FC Dallas and Galaxy and three points adrift of the fifth-place Rapids.

• Super-sub Jeff Cunningham again came to the rescue of the Rapids after the home side was reduced to 10 men. Chris Henderson gave the Rapids the lead in the 31st minute when he converted from the penalty spot after defender Alfonso Loera was adjudged to have handled the ball in the area.

• But another Chivas center back, Ryan Suarez, pulled the expansion level with a truly stunning strike, stepping forward to collect a square pass before hitting a swerving shot from all of 25 yards that sailed past Joe Cannon into the upper left-hand corner (66).

• Rapids right back Hunter Freeman was sent off in the 73rd minute for a harsh tackle on Francisco Mendoza, but just five minutes later Cunningham hit for his fourth goal of the campaign - all after coming on as a sub - when he neatly finished off a Jean-Philippe Peguero that left him alone in the area.

• Chivas then apparently equalized in the dying moments in a bizarre sequence. The Rapids had kicked the ball out to allow a Chivas injury to be attended to, and then after Chivas threw the ball back to Cannon, Chivas forward Isaac Romo slipped in to intercept and fired the ball into the empty net. But referee Ricardo Valenzuela disallowed the goal for ungentlemanly conduct.

• Chivas USA coach Thomas Rongen didn't make any changes to the team that started against Real Salt Lake the weekend before at The Home Depot Center. Here's Rongen's team (4-2-3-1): Brad Guzan - Ezra Hendrickson, Alfonso Loera (Matt Taylor 83), Ryan Suarez, Armando Begines (Arturo Torres 63) - Orlando Perez, Douglas Sequeira - Hector Cuadros, Ramon Ramirez, Francisco Mendoza - Thiago Martins (Isaac Romo 68)

• "We knew this would be a tough game. It's always tough to play in Colorado," Rongen said. " ... We got the PK to get back in the game at 1-1. Unfortunately we were not able to finish off the job and we gave up a goal at the end that we could have prevented."
TEAM NEWS

• Chivas were very disappointed not to have built on their victory against Real Salt Lake - especially in their month-long stretch of matches against Western Conference opposition.

• "We're both fighting for points, valuable points, and potential points toward the playoffs. Even though it's early in the year, the way things are going it's a crucial game," Rongen said." ... We are both tied at four points. It's a tough pill to swallow, to come in here and get zero points."

• Before the equalizer, Rongen had brought on Arturo Torres - the starter for much of the start of the season at right wing - for left back Armando Begines. Then after the Suarez goal, he brought on Isaac Romo for Thiago Martins in attack.

• "At one point in time we wanted to force the issue. We were down one-to-nothing. You need to be aggressive and get forwards in the game, which we did but we were not able to create as many chances as I would have liked," Rongen said. "The guys in there were guys that have played for us before, played down in Mexico; these are guys with experience. We just weren't able to put the ball in the back of the net."


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