Archive | Also Noted

RSL to host first leg of Rocky Mountain Cup

Posted on 24 September 2010 by kali

Real Salt Lake has checked a few items off of its to-do list over the past week:

Claim the league home unbeaten streak with a win over the Chicago Fire last Saturday?  Check.

Earn a crucial CONCACAF Champions League victory in Panama to put the team in excellent position to advance?  Check.

Get a few of the team’s key players some well-deserved rest?  Check.

Next on that list is claiming a victory over the Colorado Rapids on Saturday night at Rio Tinto Stadium (8 pm MT, Fox Soccer Channel), an accomplishment that would not only give RSL a leg up in this year’s Rocky Mountain Cup but also substantially boost the team’s Supporters Shield chances.  However, a result won’t come easy in a heated rivalry match that has playoff implications for both teams, as the Rapids are seeking to earn a playoff berth of their own.

While Real’s tough schedule may put his team at a bit of a disadvantage, coach Jason Kreis left several players home from Panama to mitigate some of those concerns.  Frequent starters Andy Williams, Chris Wingert, Nat Borchers, and Javier Morales remained in Utah to rest and in Morales’ case, recover from a minor injury, giving Kreis some fresher legs for Saturday’s match.  However, injuries remain a bit of a concern for RSL, as Morales (quad strain), Fabian Espindola (hamstring), Robbie Findley (knee), Paulo Junior (hamstring), Robbie Russell (concussion), and Alvaro Saborio (knee) all continue to manage their injury problems.

Meanwhile, Colorado will be without striker Omar Cummings, who has 10 goals in league play this year, due to an ankle injury, dealing a tough blow to the Rapids.  In addition, defender Julian Baudet is doubtful with a hamstring injury and goalkeeper Matt Pickens probable despite a groin strain.  However, Brian Mullan, who was recently acquired from Houston, will give the Colorado midfield an additional spark, while fellow newcomer Macoumba Kandji could start up front in Cummings’ place.

On the other hand, intensity certainly shouldn’t be a problem for either team.  After a relatively low-key Rocky Mountain Cup competition in RSL’s inaugural season in 2005, the Salt Lake-Rapids rivalry has grown increasingly heated since an incident in Utah during the 2006 season.  Trades between the two sides upped the ante even more, and Real has eliminated Colorado from the playoffs in the last match of the season in the past two years.  Factor in the playoff implications, and all the makings of a tense rivalry match should be present on Saturday.

For his part, Kreis will be looking for RSL to bring more vivacity than it did last Saturday against the Chicago Fire.  He said of his players after the victory in Panama, “We really needed a couple of guys to show a bit more energy than we have the past couple of games. I always say, it’s interesting how the players who seem to show the most energy and passion for the game are getting rewarded … so that’s good.”

And with that kind of effort, Real will be looking to check another item off of its list.

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RSL looks to break league record against the Fire

Posted on 18 September 2010 by kali

Real Salt Lake has set several club records this season, to little fanfare from the players or coaching staff.

On Saturday afternoon, however, the team could make MLS history against the Chicago Fire (2 pm MT, KUSG and Telefutura) — a win or tie at Rio Tinto Stadium would get RSL a league record of 23 consecutive unbeaten matches at home.  That record is something that the club covets highly — so much so that head coach Jason Kreis remarked upon it after his team’s last league victory at home, a 1-0 victory over the Red Bulls on September 4.

“I think in our next match we will be gangbusters going to break the record. It is important to us,” Kreis said.  “We take a lot of pride in our building, as I’ve said before. I think it’s more than a building for us since a lot of us have been here since the place opened up. It feels a little bit more like a home.”

Kreis’ players will certainly have momentum on their side, as they ground out a draw on the road at Seattle last week and earned a convincing 4-1 win over Toronto in CONCACAF Champions League action on Wednesday.  However, Real’s hectic schedule has started to take its toll on them as well, with injuries accumulating over the past week.

Fabian Espindola (hamstring) and Robbie Russell (concussion) are in question for Saturday’s match, although both participated in training on Friday.  In addition, Alvaro Saborio continues to recover from an ankle injury and Ned Grabavoy from illness, though they are expected to be available after playing on Wednesday.

The most glaring omission from the Real roster is that of Javier Morales.  Not only was the Argentine playmaker suspended retroactively for a retaliatory offense during the Seattle match, but he sustained a quadriceps strain and would have been doubtful for Saturday’s match anyway.

On the other side of the pitch, Chicago is hoping to stay in the race for an MLS wild-card playoff spot and needs a result at Rio Tinto Stadium to keep pace with the other teams vying for a slot.  Coach Carlos de los Cobos has made a number of roster changes since RSL beat his side in Chicago in July.  The Fire acquired Freddie Ljungberg from Seattle, signed Mexican international Nery Castillo, and brought back defender Gonzalo Segares in order to make a late run in the league standings.

Those acquisitions may have come too late, however, as Chicago has failed to win in its last five matches — last weekend, the Fire were defeated by the Philadelphia Union on the road.  Injuries could keep both Dasan Robinson and John Thorrington out of Saturday’s match as well, adding to Chicago’s challenges.

Despite the recent setbacks, the Fire are still fighting and looking to start a good run of form in Utah.  “One thing that everyone should know is that we haven’t given up on our playoff chances,” said Patrick Nyarko. “We feel like every game we go into we can try and get points. It’s going to be tough but no one said it was going to be easy. We got to keep fighting until we achieve our goals.”

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RSL returns to Seattle in search of victory

Posted on 08 September 2010 by kali

Last time Real Salt Lake played in Seattle, the team accomplished something extraordinary — winning an MLS Cup.

On Thursday night, RSL will have the opportunity to make a statement to the rest of the league once again in Seattle, as a victory over the Sounders (8 pm PT/9 pm MT, ESPN2) would put Real on top of the league table ahead of the weekend matches.

Earning a victory over a Sounders side that is seeking its fourth consecutive home win won’t be easy for Salt Lake, however.  Not only will All-Star central defender Jamison Olave be forced to sit out through yellow card accumulation, but injuries and fatigue have started to take their toll on Jason Kreis’ team.

Striker Fabian Espíndola is doubtful with a hamstring injury sustained in last week’s victory over New York, while fellow striker Alvaro Saborío has experienced some swelling of the knee but is considered probable.  Robbie Findley, who was ill last week, is likely to start alongside either Saborío or Pablo Campos up front.

The RSL  midfield has also taken a hit this week after Ned Grabavoy tweaked his knee and was listed as doubtful for Thursday’s match.  With Will Johnson having played 90 minutes for the Canadian National Team over the weekend, Kreis will have some juggling to do with his starting midfield as well.  Kreis may opt to start either Andy Williams or Nelson Gonzalez along with Javier Morales and Kyle Beckerman.

However, Olave’s absence may be the most significant, as he and Nat Borchers have been one of the stingiest central defenses in the league.  Kreis could either start Rauwshan McKenzie, who has played in just three matches for RSL this season, or shift Robbie Russell into the center with Borchers and bring Tony Beltran off the bench to start on the wing.

The Sounders are not without injury worries of their own, however, with Brad Evans, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Pat Noonan, and Peter Vagenas all out.  Designated Player Blaise Nkufo is questionable with a knee problem, while former Real midfielder Nathan Sturgis has an ankle sprain but is considered probable.

Despite those injuries, Seattle will be looking to get back on track after a tough 3-1 loss at New England last weekend.  Prior to that loss, Fredy Montero, Steve Zakuani, and Osvaldo Alonso had been integral in the Sounders’ seven-game league undefeated streak, and will pose a stern challenge to RSL at Qwest Field.

Regardless, Real has plenty of motivation to get a crucial road victory.  While Kreis believes his team is a longshot at the Supporters Shield due to the late-season schedule, he said of the possibility, “It would be huge. There’s no doubt about it. We feel a lot of pride in what we’ve done here over several years, and to kind of answer a lot of naysayers about what they said about us at the end of last year would be gigantic.”

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RSL looks to make history against Red Bulls

Posted on 03 September 2010 by kali

Fans have been looking forward to Saturday’s Real Salt Lake-New York Red Bulls contest at Rio Tinto Stadium (7 pm MT, KUSG) all summer long as a matchup featuring some of the league’s top players.

That was before national team coaches around the globe starting making callups for this weekend.

The FIFA international dates have affected both teams significantly.  RSL’s Alvaro Saborio (Costa Rica) and Will Johnson (Canada) will be away with their national teams, as will New York’s Rafael Marquez (Mexico), Dane Richards (Jamaica), Roy Miller (Costa Rica), Bouna Coundoul (Senegal), and Juan Agudelo (U.S. U-20).

That means Real will be looking to make history — a win or tie will allow RSL to equal the league record of 22 consecutive matches unbeaten at home — without two of its likely starters.

Coach Jason Kreis said of the conflict, “At this time of the year, it’s difficult to say to your fans and your ownership, ‘By the way, we’ll be missing these three fantastic players because they have to go represent their country.’ I would like to see the MLS fall in line with the rest of the world in that.”

Fortunately for Real, the injury bug seems to have left the team behind for the time being, as Jamison Olave (knee sprain) remains the only concern, although he is probable for Saturday’s match.  The Red Bulls, however, have a spate of injuries:  Giorgi Chirgadze, Luke Sassano, Brian Nielsen, and Jeremy Hall are all currently unavailable.

Although New York will be missing a number of key players, coach Hans Backe still has plenty of attacking firepower to throw at RSL.  While Thierry Henry and Juan Pablo Angel have gotten much of the attention, midfielder Joel Lindpere has been a key force in the Red Bulls’ resurgence in 2010 and Macoumba Kandji remains a threat off the bench.

Kreis’ squad will have had plenty of time to recover from its recent international travels and prepare for New York.  While Robbie Findley is the most likely candidate to start in Saborio’s place up front, a midfield replacement for Johnson remains more of a question.  Without a direct substitute for Johnson’s defensive cover, Kreis may opt to go with Nelson Gonzalez, who acquitted himself well against Cruz Azul last week, or with Andy Williams’ ability to retain possession.

Regardless of the players on the pitch, RSL  has a tremendous opportunity to gain momentum not only in the Western Conference standings, but in the run leading up to the playoffs as well.

“We’re in a good spot. We’ve put ourselves in a good position. We’ve got 40 points with 8 games to go and last year we won the MLS Cup with 40 points, so we’re definitely in a much better spot than we were last year,” said Johnson of the team’s current standing. “At the same time there’s still a lot of room to grow, we’re a few plays away from really being out front in this league.”

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RSL seeks to regroup in Toronto

Posted on 28 August 2010 by kali

Real Salt Lake’s week has been eventful, to say the least.

After losing to Cruz Azul 5-4 in a rain-soaked, dramatic CONCACAF Champions League match in Mexico City on Wednesday, the team has arrived in Toronto ahead of Saturday’s league match against Toronto FC (7 pm ET/5 pm MT, KUSG).

Although RSL is eager to get back into action after Wednesday’s loss, getting three points in Toronto won’t be easy.  Not only is TFC is 6-1-4 at BMO Field this season, but Real has yet to get a win there in three previous attempts.  However, the Reds have lost two consecutive matches — a 4-1 home loss to New York last weekend and a 1-0 loss at Arabe Unido on Tuesday.

While RSL and Toronto have met once already in 2010 — a 2-1 Real victory in Salt Lake in May — the two sides will meet twice more during the next month, thanks to Champions League Group A play.  With both teams looking to get back on track after midweek losses and gain a mental edge over the other ahead of those two Champions League matches, Saturday’s game looks to be hotly contested.

One of RSL’s biggest challenges will be keeping Toronto from scoring early in the match.  In several of the team’s most recent road games, the opponent has gotten on the score sheet first, forcing Real to come from behind.  In addition, coach Jason Kreis will be hoping to mitigate the psychological impact of Wednesday’s late collapse in Mexico.

“After we went through a good end of the season last year and won the championship, I feel that we’re a mature team that typically doesn’t make mistakes like that,” Kreis said after the Cruz Azul loss.  “I’ll have to talk with some of the players, as I think it came down a little to fatigue at the end of the match.”

The physical effects of the midweek match and travel may prevent Kreis from using the same starting eleven as he did on Wednesday; however, Jamison Olave, who missed that game with a knee sprain, has been upgraded to probable.  With RSL’s only other injured players (Robbie Findley and Chris Schuler) also listed as probable, Kreis ought to have options for his starting lineup.

Meanwhile, Toronto’s Emmanuel Gomez and Amadou Sanyang are out through injury, while Maicon Santos is doubtful with a knee sprain.  In addition, defender Nana Attakora will be unavailable through suspension.

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RSL prepares for its first CCL match

Posted on 17 August 2010 by kali

As Real Salt Lake prepares for its first-ever CONCACAF Champions League match, a lot of things are unfamiliar to the team — from the opposition to the tournament itself.

Not only will Wednesday’s match against Arabe Unido on Wednesday night (8 pm MT, Fox Soccer Channel) mark RSL’s first venture into a competitive international tournament, but Real has little idea of what to expect from its opponent.  Although the reigning Panamanian champions appeared in the Champions League previously, RSL had difficulty locating video of this season’s iteration.  With only five Arabe Unido players returning from last year’s team, the lack of scouting reports complicated Real coach Jason Kreis’ preparations for the match.

Luckily for RSL, however, that key first match will be at home — Rio Tinto Stadium has become a virtual fortress for Real over the past two seasons.  “It’s good for us, because we have our first game at home,” Rimando told The Salt Lake Tribune. “So we’re going to play exactly how we play against any team.”

In addition, Kreis plans to field a starting eleven that will have had plenty of big-game experience, demonstrating the club’s prioritization of the Champions League.  Nick Rimando, Robbie Russell, Jamison Olave, Nat Borchers, Chris Wingert, Kyle Beckerman, Will Johnson, Ned Grabavoy, Javier Morales, Alvaro Saborio, and Fabian Espindola are the probable starters for Wednesday’s match.

“I thought it was going to be a little bit of a sales job for me to tell them how important this tournament is for our club. As has happened many times before, my players made me very pleased because they were all saying how important it was to them,” Kreis said after last Saturday’s league victory over the Columbus Crew.

While Arabe Unido, who reached the CCL quarterfinals last year, ought to present a stern challenge for RSL in Group A, Wednesday’s match is only the first step to progressing in the tournament.  Real will travel to Mexico to face Cruz Azul on August 25, face Toronto FC at home on September 15, travel to Panama on September 22 and Toronto on September 28, then host Cruz Azul on October 19.

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RSL-Crew becomes heated rivalry

Posted on 13 August 2010 by kali

Most fans probably don’t think of the Columbus Crew as one of Real Salt Lake’s biggest rivals.

That may change soon, however, as RSL hosts the Crew in what looks to be a heated contest at Rio Tinto Stadium on Saturday night (7 pm MT, KUSG).

Not only will Real be chasing Columbus’ 22-game home unbeaten record that was set in the ’08 and ’09 seasons, but Salt Lake will also be looking to avenge a tough loss at Columbus in April.  That match ended in a 1-0 scoreline, with the only goal coming from a Guillermo Barros Schelotto penalty kick.

After that match, several Crew players gave quotes to the media that Real coach Jason Kreis not only took exception to, but will surely use for locker-room fodder ahead of Saturday’s rematch.

“They’re walking around as the champions,” Columbus goalkeeper Will Hesmer said. “They’ve been saying they’re the champions. They were sub-.500 last year. So that doesn’t sit well with us. We clearly feel we’ve been the class of the league the past two years and we wanted to prove it.”

After resting several starters, including Jamison Olave, Kyle Beckerman, and Nick Rimando, in RSL’s 1-1 draw at Philadelphia on Wednesday, Kreis should have a number of options available in the midfield and defense.  However, well-rested strikers will be harder for him to come by.  Alvaro Saborio played 82 minutes in the Costa Rican national team’s friendly at Paraguay earlier this week, while Robbie Findley played as a substitute for both the U.S. on Tuesday and for Real on Wednesday.  Injuries should be a relatively minor concern for RSL, with only Pablo Campos and Chris Schuler listed as probable.

However, Columbus will be missing several key players through injury.  Eddie Gaven, Robbie Rogers, and Gino Padula are all out for Saturday’s match, while Chad Marshall, who withdrew from the U.S. team because of a knee issue, is questionable and Adam Moffatt probable.

Coach Robert Warzycha is likely to go with a similar lineup to that which defeated Philadelphia in the team’s last match, a 2-1 win on August 5.  Steven Lenhart is likely to get a starting nod up front for the Crew, particularly while the team’s new signing, Peruvian striker Andrés Mendoza awaits his paperwork.

Regardless of the lineups, the match ought to be closely contested.  Both teams, along with the LA Galaxy, are in contention for the Supporters Shield, with just one point separating RSL and the Crew.  While Columbus is winless on the road against Western Conference teams this season, the Crew would love to get a result at Rio Tinto Stadium after losing to Real in the 2009 playoffs.

As for Salt Lake’s motivation?  Those newspaper quotes are on the locker-room wall.

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Red Stars lose 2 players in 2-1 loss to Philly

Posted on 12 August 2010 by mwkajdas

Red Stars fans wilted in the heat and humidity Wednesday night at Toyota Park as they watched their team’s playoff hopes wither along with them. Despite fighting back from a one-goal deficit, the Red Stars gave up the game-winning goal to the Philadelphia Independence on a controversial free kick, eventually losing the game 2-1. To add injury to insult, two Red Stars players had to be helped off the pitch: Kate Markgraf with a concussion and Julianne Sitch with what Red Stars coach Omid Namazi described as a possible ACL tear.

The game started out in typical fashion as, for the first ten minutes, the Independence players attempted to execute give-and-go passes through center midfield and the Red Stars attacked up the sidelines but neither team could link the requisite number of passes together to threaten the other team’s net. For the next ten minutes, the Red Stars managed a couple of weak shots from outside the 18-yard box that were easily scooped up by Philadelphia goalkeeper, Karina LeBlanc.

The first real scoring chance came in the 23rd minute when the Red Stars were awarded a free kick on Philadelphia’s goal line just five yards left of the 6-yard box. Casey Nogueira sent the ball curling to the far post but Marian Dalmy headed it over the top of the open net. Two minutes later, the Red Stars created a golden opportunity when Formiga stripped Heather Mitts at the center line and dished the ball to Cristiane, who burst out on a breakaway with Nogueira and Megan Rapinoe following on her flanks. However, the Brazilan chose to samba instead of shoot in front of the lonesome LeBlanc and eventually the Philadelphia defense closed the play down before anyone got a shot off.

Neither team mounted a serious attack for the next twenty minutes and the first half ended in a scoreless draw.

The Independence didn’t wait too long to open the scoring in the second half when Amy Rodriguez took a pass from Lori Lindsey in the 53rd minute and split between the right-side defensive duo of Marian Dalmy and Whitney Engen. A-Rod dribbled the ball to the corner of the 6-yard box and slotted the ball between Red Stars goalkeeper, Jillian Loyden, and the near post.

The Red Stars struck back in the 62nd minute when Casey Nogueira ran the ball up the right sideline and launched a mortar shot toward the goal. The ball appeared to arc over the Philadelphia defenders and find its way into the far corner of the net untouched but Ella Masar was credited for tipping the ball in for her sixth goal of the season. “Ella just kind of threw her body at the ball and she headed it in… I think,” Nogueira sort of confirmed after the game. “That’s what it looked like.”

Noogie almost sent the Red Stars into the lead in the 72nd minute when she fired a wicked bender off a 30-yard free kick that Karina LeBlanc was just able to push over the crossbar. Three minutes later, Nogueira lofted a corner kick to the far post but Formiga’s diving header flew up over the open corner of the net.

Red Stars fans got a scare in the 76th minute Amy Rodriguez intercepted a back-pass from Lydia Vandenbergh to Natalie Spilger and charged unmarked toward the Chicago net. However, Spilger gave chase and went to ground to foil A-Rod’s attempts to curl the ball around her into the exposed goal. Nevertheless, those heroics went for naught just a minute later when A-Rod tried to squeeze between Spilger and Engen and Spilger was cautioned for a hand ball. On the ensuing free kick, just outside the penalty area, Joanna Lohman faked the shot and Lianne Sanderson came up behind her and shot the ball inside the left post for the game-winning goal. “Two players running side-by-side and one getting in front of the other one. There’s nothing there. There’s nothing there,” Namazi commented after the game. “Absolute terrible call. And I’ll take a fine for it if I have to.”

For the remainder of the game, both sides exchanged long passes in an attempt to take advantage of tired legs but it all amounted to much ado about nothing. Philadelphia beat the Red Stars for the third time this season and the Red Stars remain without a win against either of the two WPS expansion teams.

“We’re not a very good team when we go down a goal, you know, based on records,” Namazi summed up the game. “We’re very good when we go up a goal. And tonight we went down a goal, we fought, we came back and we had the momentum going. And one obvious bad call just changes the momentum of the game. But I don’t want to use that as an excuse. We gotta be better than that. We need to take the initiative to score the first goal. The more important thing is we lost a player before the game (referring to Karen Carney, who did not play due to illness) and we lost a couple players during the game. That’s the hardest.”

Coach Namazi also disclosed that there is a visa problem with Veronica Bouquete that prevented her from playing in the game. “We found out on Sunday, when we traveled back from San Jose, that there’s a discrepancy between what we were told is her actual status as far as her visa. So we gotta work through that process of obtaining the proper paperwork. That’s another one I was counting on to play and we find out we can’t play her. I’m hoping that she’s ready for the Washington game.”

Wednesday night was also the Red Stars’ annual “Green Game,” where fans are invited to bid on special jerseys worn by their favorite Red Stars players during that game. In place of the customary green-colored jerseys, this year the Red Stars decided to auction off Puma Project Pink practice kits that the players wore during the pre-game warm-up. Winning bidders took home the autographed jersey along with matching shorts and socks. The winning bids were as follows:

$210 – Ella Masar
$200 – Natalie Spilger
$165 – Kate Markgraf
$130 – Cristiane
$130 – Karen Carney
$125 – Megan Rapinoe
$120 – Jillian Loyden
$105 – Formiga
$100 – Marian Dalmy
$90 – Katie Chapman
$85 – Nikki Washington
$85 – Veronica Boquete Giadans
$80 – Allison Whitworth
$80 – Elise Weber
$80 – Lydia Vandenbergh
$80 – Casey Nogueira
$80 – Whitney Engen
$80 – Kelsey Davis
$75 – Julianne Sitch
$65 – Sophie Reiser
$50 – Jessica McDonald

Match Summary
Chicago Red Stars vs Philadelphia Independence
August 11, 2010 – Toyota Park – Bridgeview, IL
Attendance: 3,152
Weather: Hot and humid 85 degrees

Scoring
53’ Philadelphia: Amy Rodriguez (Lori Lindsey)
62’ Chicago: Ella Masar (Casey Nogueira)
78’ Philadelphia: Lianne Sanderson (unassisted)

Misconduct
37’ Chicago: Formiga (yellow card)
67’ Chicago: Megan Rapinoe (yellow card)
77’ Chicago: Natalie Spilger (yellow card)
90+ Chicago: Katie Chapman (yellow card)

Lineups
Chicago Red Stars:
Jillian Loyden
Marian Dalmy
Whitney Engen
Kate Markgraf (73: Lydia Vandenbergh)
Natalie Spilger
Casey Nogueira
Katie Chapman
Formiga
Megan Rapinoe
Ella Masar
Cristiane (71: Julianne Sitch, 82: Nikki Washington)

Philadelphia Independence:
Karina LeBlanc
Heather Mitts
Sara Larsson
Nikki Krzysik
Holmfridur Magnussdottir
Christina DiMartino (64: Lianne Sanderson)
Lori Lindsey
Jen Buczkowski
Caroline Seger
Joanna Lohman (84: Estelle Johnson)
Amy Rodriguez (90+: Lindsey Patterson)

Officials
Referee: Jose Carlos Rivero
Asst Referees: Shelley Finger, George Ghawi
4th Official: Miguel Panduro Jr.

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RSL kicks off busy August schedule at KC

Posted on 06 August 2010 by kali

Real Salt Lake will debut a new “Victory Gold” kit on Saturday night.  While that moniker may sound brash, Jason Kreis has hinted that he may take a more conservative approach when his team visits the Kansas City Wizards that night.

Though the RSL head coach experimented with a 4-5-1 formation several weeks ago in a tough loss at Dallas and later lamented that choice, Kreis admitted last week, “I don’t think we’ve been playing our best soccer of late.”

He went on to add, “A lot of times you find in this game that you get the result and all of the sudden the confidence is back, and you are on a roll again.”

That’s what he’ll be hoping for after last week’s win over DC United, a match in which the 3-0 scoreline somewhat betrayed the play on the pitch at Rio Tinto Stadium.  However, Kreis will have some tough decisions to make as Real embarks on a crowded August schedule, particularly against a Kansas City team that is on the upswing.

While the Wizards had a rough patch earlier in the season, including a 4-1 loss at Rio Tinto Stadium on May 29, coach Peter Vermes has made several lineup changes that have led to better results. Kansas City defeated Toronto FC 1-0 last weekend, extending the team’s unbeaten streak to three matches.

Teal Bunbury has been integral to the Wizards’ recent success, scoring in two of those three matches. Vermes said of the young striker, “It’s been a process with Teal for us this year. Since the first day of preseason, we’ve spent time trying to bring him along as opposed to putting everything on him early and then you start taking things away from him. We’ve been able to add as the games have gone on, and when we made the decision to put him in, we felt it was a good time for him to get his feet wet and really get after it.”

Kansas City will be without the injured Zoltan Hercegfalvi and Birahim Diop, while Ryan Smith and Josh Wolff are questionable and Jimmy Conrad probable.

RSL’s Javier Morales, who sustained an ankle injury last week, is probable, as is Kyle Beckerman.  However, Robbie Findley was called up to the U.S. national team for Tuesday’s friendly against Brazil, which could affect his playing time, particularly as Real has matches coming up on Wednesday and again next Saturday.

The match will kick off at 7:30 CT (6:30 MT) and can be seen in Utah on KUSG 2.2/Comcast 111.

RSL also learned its CONCACAF Champions League schedule this week:

Wednesday, August 18: RSL v. Arabe Unido (PAN) – 8:00 p.m. MT
Wednesday, August 25: RSL at Cruz Azul (MEX) – 6:00 p.m. MT
Wednesday, Sept. 15: RSL v. Toronto FC (CAN) – 8:00 p.m. MT
Wednesday, Sept. 22: RSL at Arabe Unido (PAN) – 6:00 p.m. MT
Tuesday, Sept. 28: RSL at Toronto FC (CAN) – 6:00 p.m. MT
Tuesday, October 19: RSL v. Cruz Azul (MEX) – 8:00 p.m. MT

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RSL hosts DC United, hopes to get back to winning ways

Posted on 30 July 2010 by kali

It’s no secret that Rio Tinto Stadium is a difficult place for visiting teams to play.

However, with Real Salt Lake going through a mini-slump as of late, the team will be looking to reaffirm that reputation at Rio Tinto on Saturday night when it plays host to DC United.  After a tough 1-1 draw at home to Chivas USA last weekend, RSL will put its club record 19-game home unbeaten streak on the line again as DC visits the Wasatch Front.

Saturday presents a golden opportunity for Real to get its winning form back ahead of a congested August schedule.  United is just 3-11-3 this season, with only one win and two draws on the road so far.

However, the team has more than just its recent form working against it as the players prepare to face United.  Jamison Olave, Javier Morales, and Nick Rimando all appeared in the MLS All-Star Game in Houston on Wednesday, which could have some effect on Kreis’ starting lineup.  Although Olave and Rimando only played one half on Wednesday, Morales played about 60 minutes in the heat and humidity.  Regarding Morales’ fatigue levels, Kreis told The Salt Lake Tribune, “We’ll have to talk to him and see how he feels.”

Meanwhile, Kyle Beckerman’s return to action last week gives Kreis some additional flexibility at central midfield.  Though Beckerman and defender Robbie Russell are both listed as probable for Saturday’s match, both should be in contention for starting roles against DC.

United coach Curt Onalfo, on the other hand, is dealing with a spate of injuries.  Midfielders Brandon Barklage and Juan Manuel Pena, goalkeeper Andrew Quinn, and defender Rodney Wallace are all out with long-term injuries.  In addition, defenders Marc Burch, Dejan Jakovic, Devon McTavish and strikers Adam Cristman and Chris Pontius have less-severe issues that have them listed as probable for Saturday.

However, despite the injuries, DC has several talented players that could pose problems for Real.  Andy Najar, who vexed the RSL defense during the teams’ last meeting at RFK in June, is quickly growing into an impact player and has three goals so far this season.  New signings Branko Boskovic and Pablo Hernandez will also be looking to kickstart their MLS careers as they integrate into the United roster.

The match will kick off at 7 pm and can be seen on the MLS Direct Kick package.

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