RSL seek to serve payback Saturday
Ask anyone in Salt Lake why Saturday's game against Chivas USA is big, you won't get answers such as ESPN's visit for another national broadcast or that the 5,000th goal in MLS history will most likely be scored in the game.
Entering the match, there have been 4,998 goals scored in Major League Soccer history. So besides simply aiming to win the game, what is Real Salt Lake's motivation this weekend?
"I think we have to remember that last time they (Chivas) embarrassed us," said RSL captain Jason Kreis.
On July 9, sitting at the foot of the Western Conference and MLS overall tables, Chivas USA thrashed RSL 5-1 at The Home Depot Center.
"Scoring the 5,000th goal means nothing to me," said midfielder Andy Williams. "We've got a bitter taste in our mouth."
Williams has a bitter taste in his mouth and he wasn't even in the match. The Jamaican international was representing his country at the CONCACAF Gold Cup.
"I watched that game and was not happy with the way we played," Williams said. "We will have a very different lineup this time and hopefully it will be a goalfest for us."
A goalfest is a very real possibility as RSL's attack had just begun to click headed into the All-Star break. Clint Mathis had managed to garner two Goal of the Week citations in three weeks as RSL produced 12 goals in five July games, including one U.S. Open Cup game.
"Our offense has started clicking in the last few weeks," said forward Jordan Cila. "We are just getting timing down and making our runs."
Real are hoping those runs will lead to three much needed points. The consistent refrain in the RSL locker room is that a win is more important than goals.
"It would be nice to score the 5,000th goal," Kreis admitted. "But I would rather get three points and the win."
Kreis added that Chivas and RSL are similar teams in that they have been streaky. RSL has knocked off FC Dallas and the Los Angeles Galaxy, but lost to Chivas and the Columbus Crew. Chivas recently knocked off New England Revolution, but can't seem to beat anyone else -- except RSL.
While both teams are streaky in their play, RSL knows it will have to exploit the differences if they are to have success.
"Chivas defenders like to push forward," Cila said. "We need to catch them when they go forward to get good chances."
If RSL is able to capitalize and claim a win, there is at least one player who wouldn't mind scoring the league's 5,000th goal.
"Five thousand -- I think I could come up with a good celebration for that," said Real's celebration guru Brian Dunseth.
David Hale is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.