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Real Salt Lake seeks to extend winning streak, beat Chicago

Posted on 07 July 2010 by kali

Last time Real Salt Lake traveled to Chicago, the team returned as the MLS Eastern Conference champion.

Although there will be no conference championship on the line this time, RSL is looking for a similar result when it visits Toyota Park in a nationally-televised contest on Thursday night.  With only five days between last weekend’s 5-0 thrashing of the New England Revolution and Thursday’s match, RSL is looking to build on the momentum generated from that victory against a Fire side that has won only four games so far this season.

Despite having a roster with several big names, including midfielder Marco Pappa and former U.S. international Brian McBride, Chicago has struggled to find its footing in 2010 under new coach Carlos de los Cobos. Until last weekend’s loss to the Columbus Crew, the Fire had gone unbeaten in league play since May 1 yet managed only nine of a possible 15 points during that time.

In addition, the Fire are dealing with several key injuries at the moment.  Striker Calen Carr and veteran midfielder John Thorrington are out for Thursday’s match, while striker Patrick Nyarko is doubtful and defender Dasan Robinson questionable.  On the other hand, RSL coach Jason Kreis will have nearly a full complement of players from which to choose his roster.  While Kyle Beckerman’s recovery from a foot injury has been delayed by pain during training, Nelson Gonzalez has been upgraded to probable for the match.

However, if Real hopes to get three points against the Fire, the team will have some significant history to overcome.  RSL has never won a regular season match at Toyota Park, going 0-3-2 at the stadium to date.  Nor has Salt Lake outright defeated the Fire since 2006; last season’s Eastern Conference championship match was decided in penalty kicks.

Kreis is unlikely to make many changes to the starting eleven that earned such a resounding victory against the Revs, as his philosophy of not allowing the opponent to dictate RSL’s game plan has been yielding results; Real has amassed 27 points in 14 matches and are unbeaten in the last nine games.  Rather, Kreis looks at Thursday’s match as a unique challenge for his side.

“For me, when I look at this team, this represents one of the best challenges we’ve had in a very long time. It’s an away game, in a hard place to play, and they have some very, very good attacking dynamic midfielders that’s going to cause us concerns,” he told the Deseret News.

The match will kick off at 7:30 MT and can be seen nationwide on ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes.

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