Preview: Chivas USA at Real Salt Lake
All-time record: Chivas USA lead the series, 9-5-3
10 pm ET, MLS Direct Kick, Matchday Live (click here)
Real Salt Lake return to the friendly confines of Rio Tinto Stadium, looking to get back to their winning ways after a disappointing road loss in Dallas last weekend. Chivas USA, who find themselves at the bottom of the table, are looking to right the ship, and avenge a 2-1 loss to Real Salt Lake at home earlier in the season when RSL striker Fabian Espindola scored a late winner.
Real Salt Lake
The loss to FC Dallas at Pizza Hut Park was RSL's first since April, and the side have spent the week preparing for their response. Coach Jason Kreis said this week that the squad has reacted surprisingly positively and determined not to stumble again, particularly at home, where RSL are undefeated this season in all competitions.
"I think [the guys] have taken probably even more pride than I would have thought,” Kreis said.
It looks likely that captain Kyle Beckerman, who injured his foot in the last meeting between these two squads on May 22, may finally make his return after missing the last seven matches.
The Goats have been working hard to shore up their lineup after a disappointing start and the departure of star midfielder Sacha Kljestan. They will be looking to integrate newly acquired attacking midfielder Rodolfo Espinoza and striker Giancarlo Maldonado as they try to make a run over the second half of the season.
The new attack looked to be dangerous during SuperLiga play this week, as Chivas finished with a 1-1-1 record in group play. They did not advance to the semifinals, but they have shown more life and threat than in the beginning of the season.
In roster news, the team landed US youth international player Sal Sizzo in a weighted lottery held at the league offices on Wednesday, and though he is eligible to play against RSL on Saturday night, it's unlikely he will see any time.
Heroes & Villains
Justin Braun vs. Jamison Olave: Braun, who won the MLS Player of the Week award two weeks ago, has been perhaps the most stellar player for Chivas USA this season. The Salt Lake City native has notched six goals, and his tireless work rate, his size and his ability to take advantage of mistakes has proven priceless for the Goats. Olave’s physical attributes will likely be required to shut down the Chivas striker. Braun’s knack for getting beyond the defenders will meet head on with Olave’s knack for arriving late to save the day.
Stat that makes you go “Hmm..."
The Goats have failed to score more than one goal in 10 of their 15 matches this season.
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