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RSL put out the Fire en route to MLS record

Posted on 18 September 2010 by Patrick McShane

Real Salt Lake made MLS history Saturday afternoon as they defeated the Chicago Fire 1-0 to set the longest home undefeated streak in league history at 23 matches. Fire defender Wilman Conde put in a catastrophic performance on the afternoon, earning an ejection right before half due to two yellow cards including the penalty that eventually led to the match winner from Álvaro Saborío. With the victory RSL continues to pressure the LA Galaxy and Columbus Crew for the Supporters’ Shield, as they are now tied with LA at 47 points and own a superior goal differential prior to the Galaxy’s match with DC United Saturday night.

With Chicago playing to keep their slim playoff hopes alive and RSL looking to break the undefeated home record, the match played as one would anticipate with both teams playing hard, physical soccer. Chicago forward Collins John was particularly formidable against the RSL backline, while midseason addition Freddie Ljungberg battled RSL captain and midfield leader Kyle Beckerman throughout the first half. There were a number of anxious moments due to this style of play, as a number of players appeared to pick up some knocks thanks to some tough challenges, including RSL’s Will Johnson and Saborío as well as Bratislave Ristic and Logan Pause for the Fire. Unfortunately, it was also this style of play that led to the Fire’s downfall, as Conde continued to hammer at RSL’s forwards and attackers at every opportunity – eventually leading to two cautions in rapid succession and his eventual ejection.

Despite the ejection and numerous knocked up players, Chicago defender C.J. Brown didn’t really see the match as being overly physical. “As far as the physical play goes, that’s just the game. I don’t think it was any worse than any other game that I have been in. There some plays here and there that some players got in on, but that’s mild compared to when it starts in the playoffs. It’s part of the game.”

As RSL near the end of the season, their third consecutive playoff birth and prepare to defend their MLS crown, it is critical that they find ways to win matches while still resting key players due to their busy CONCACAF Champions League schedule. Due to Chicago playing the entire second half down a man, RSL was able to control the match with little effort and sub out Ned Grabavoy and Saborío by the 64th minute as both players are nursing minor injuries. These substitutions allowed RSL to not only rest players, but also give important playing time to a variety of young players that they will be relying on over the next couple of weeks.

Chicago, on the other hand, appeared content to exit Rio Tinto Stadium quietly, with the exception of second half substitute Patrick Nyarko, who tormented RSL’s defense for the entire second half. His energy and skill completely changed the dynamic of Chicago’s attack and makes one wonder why he wasn’t involved from the opening whistle. With the loss, Chicago now find themselves farther behind in the MLS playoff race with only seven games remaining. That said, Fire coach Carlos de los Cobos still holds out hope that the team can still make the post season. “It’s definitely difficult now, but we still have seven matches left to play and that’s 21 points available,” notes de los Cobos. “We need to fight. We are losing points because we are not concentrating all the time… We have really good moments in all of our matches, but we are not taking advantage of this.”

RSL will maintain their busy schedule over the next week, continuing CONCACAF Champions League play Wednesday against Arabe Unido in Panama before meeting Rocky Mountain Cup rivals the Colorado Rapids at home next Saturday. Despite the chaotic schedule and the various injuries the team is currently facing, coach Jason Kreis still maintains that this RSL team can continue it’s hot form and again challenge for the MLS Cup. “[Last preseason] I really felt like this is the group I envisioned for a long time, playing the type of soccer they’re playing. This is the team I think we’ve been trying to build for a long time, and this is the team that should challenge for championships for quite a while.”

REAL SALT LAKE (13-4-8, pts.) v. CHICAGO FIRE (6-9-8, 26 pts.)
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 18, 2010 – RIO TINTO STADIUM – SANDY, UT

Scoring Summary:
RSL- Álvaro Saborío 9 (penalty kick) 47+

Misconduct Summary:
CHI — Wilman Conde (caution; Reckless Foul) 30
RSL — Kyle Beckerman (caution; Reckless Tackle) 33
CHI — Wilman Conde (caution; Tactical Foul) 46+
CHI — Wilman Conde (ejection; Second Caution) 46+

Real Salt Lake — Nick Rimando, Tony Beltran, Jamison Olave, Nat Borchers, Chris Wingert, Ned Grabavoy (Nelson Gonzalez 64), Kyle Beckerman, Andy Williams, Will Johnson, Robbie Findley (Paulo Araujo Jr. 76), Alvaro Saborío (Pablo Campos 63).

TOTAL SHOTS: 17 (Kyle Beckerman 5); SHOTS ON GOAL: 5 (Kyle Beckerman 2); FOULS: 11 (Pablo Campos, Chris Wingert 2); OFFSIDES: 0; CORNER KICKS: 5 (Andy Williams 4); SAVES: 0

Chicago Fire — Sean Johnson, Dasan Robinson, C.J. Brown, Wilman Conde, Gonzalo Segares, Bratislav Ristic, Freddie Ljungberg (Calen Carr 60), Logan Pause, Marco Pappa (Mike Banner 85), Collins John (Patrick Nyarko 46), Nery Castillo.

TOTAL SHOTS: 5 (5 players with 1); SHOTS ON GOAL: 0; FOULS: 12 (Bratislav Ristic 3); OFFSIDES: 2 (Nery Castillo, Collins John 1); CORNER KICKS: 2 (Nery Castillo 2); SAVES: 4 (Sean Johnson 4)

Referee: Jorge Gonzalez
Referee’s Assistants: Adam Garner, James Conlee
4th Official: Tyler Ploeger
Attendance: 14,449 / Weather: Clear and 85 degrees

All Statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial

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