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RSL faces critical test at Chivas USA

Posted on 27 August 2011 by kali

When Real Salt Lake visits the Home Depot Center to take on Chivas USA on Saturday night (8:30 pm MT, Fox Soccer Channel), much more than three points will be on the line.

Faced with a sudden losing skid, including a last-minute heartbreaker last weekend at Houston, RSL needs a result against the Goats in order not only to get the team back on track, but also to remain in contention for an automatic playoff berth.  To that end, coach Jason Kreis issued a public challenge to his players after the loss at Houston.

“There have been a lot of players that have gotten a whole ton of opportunities, and a lot of them quite frankly aren’t getting the job done,” Kreis said.  “Unless we get this turned around here and start heading in a positive direction for the playoffs, there’s going to be a lot of difficult decisions to make this offseason.”

Injuries certainly haven’t helped Real as of late, with twelve players currently listed on the official injury report.  However, Jamison Olave could make a return to the lineup Saturday after recovering from the knee injury he sustained in the MLS All-Star Game earlier this summer, giving the team a significant boost on defense.

In addition, Will Johnson will be available after serving a suspension for yellow-card accumulation last week.  Johnson’s return should give the RSL midfield some of the toughness and discipline it lacked against Houston.

Meanwhile, Chivas will have nearly a full complement of players available to coach Robin Fraser — Zarek Valentin is the team’s only injury loss, and Fraser will be able to recall newly-acquired striker Juan Pablo Angel after resting him in the Goats’ midweek game at Portland.  In addition, the Goats’ midfield has improved since the start of the season; notably, Chivas midfielder Nick LaBrocca has been having a breakout year and could cause problems for RSL.

Regardless of the lineups, however, Real will be looking to halt its worst stretch of results since 2007.  RSL has lost four out of its last five matches, negating the impact of the games it has in hand on its fellow Western Conference foes, and Kreis has expressed his belief that his players have the character to turn things around.

“Anybody that’s part of our club that feels like it’s a helpless situation should leave, because we’re not helpless at all,” he said.  “We have the ability. We know what to do. We have the right mentality. We have the right experience. We have everything we need to bring ourselves out of this hole. And if we continue to believe and to fight, we will.”

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