Categorized | Also Noted

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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