Match Day Preview: Chivas USA at Real Salt Lake
After seeing their lengthy unbeaten streak come to an end, Real Salt Lake return home to take on a Chivas USA side looking to build one of their own. Real lost for the first time in 18 league matches last weekend, a 1-0 loss at Portland, after their home unbeaten streak came to an end in the CONCACAF Champions League Final. Chivas USA have won back-to-back games, coming off a dominant 3-0 home win against New England.
REFEREE: Paul Ward. SAR (bench): Anthony Vasoli; JAR (opposite): Chris Strickland; 4th: Allen Chapman MLS Career: 28 games; FC/gm: 23.7; Y/gm: 3.8; R: 8; pens: 6
INJURY REPORT: REAL SALT LAKE – QUESTIONABLE: FW Paulo Jr. (L hamstring strain); DF Robbie Russell (L hamstring strain); PROBABLE: MF Will Johnson (L thumb fracture); FW Álvaro Saborío (R foot contusion) … CHIVAS
USA – OUT: FW Tristan Bowen (L ankle sprain); MF Blair Gavin (L hamstring strain); DF Seth Owusu (R knee sprain); MF Paulo Nagamura (L calf strain); QUESTIONABLE: DF Jimmy Conrad (concussion); PROBABLE: DF Michael
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
ALL-TIME (18 meetings): Real 5 wins, 20 goals … Chivas USA 9 wins, 29 goals … Ties 4
AT SALT LAKE (8 meetings): Real 3 wins, 14 goals … Chivas USA 2 wins, 9 goals … Ties 3
RETURN MATCH: 8/27: Chivas USA vs. Real Salt Lake, 7:30 p.m. PT (FOX Soccer)
LAST YEAR (MLS):
5/22: CHV 1, RSL 2 (Braun 80 – Wingert 45; Espindola 89)
7/24: RSL 1, CHV 1 (Grabavoy 66 – Padilla 70)
- Chivas USA have never won at Rio Tinto Stadium, RSL winning twice (including in the 2008 MLS Cup Playoffs) before the teams played to a 1-1 draw there last year.
- After failing to come away from The Home Depot Center with a victory against Chivas USA in their first seven visits all-time, Real have won two of the last three trips to Carson to face Chivas, including the 2-1 win last year.
- Coaches record: Robin Fraser vs. RSL: first game … Jason Kreis v CHV: P12 W5 L5 D2
- Chivas USA made it two wins out of two, rolling to a 3-0 victory against the New England Revolution on Saturday evening at The Home Depot Center. Chivas USA have 9 points from 7 games on the season, sitting in seventh place in the Western Conference.
- The Rojiblancos took the lead in the 22nd minute of play when Nick LaBrocca split two Revs defenders to head in Ben Zemanski’s cross from the right corner, giving Chivas USA their first lead at home this season.
- Chivas doubled their lead at the end of the first half when Alejandro Moreno floated a cross from the left, and Marcos Mondaini jabbed an acrobatic volley past Revolution 'keeper Bobby Shuttleworth.
- Chivas USA closed the scoring in the 57th minute when Moreno poached a poor back pass by Shalrie Joseph to Didier Domi, and the Venezuelan international fired the ball into the Revolution net from the heart of the box.
- Chivas USA head coach Robin Fraser made no changes to the team that knocked off the San Jose Earthquakes 2-1 at Buck Shaw Stadium.
- CHIVAS USA (4-1-3-2): Dan Kennedy - Zarek Valentin, Andrew Boyens, Heath Pearce, Ante Jazic - Simon Elliott - Ben Zemanski (Mariano Trujillo 70), Nick LaBrocca, Jorge Flores (Francisco Mendoza 79) - Alejandro Moreno, Marcos Mondaini (Justin Braun 66)
- With a goal and two assists, Alejandro Moreno played a part in all three Chivas USA goals vs. New England. He’s been involved in five of Chivas USA’s eight goals on the season.
- “He’s been extremely solid all year long and is such a critical piece of leadership on this team, even if you don’t think of your forward as being that way,” said Chivas USA head coach Robin Fraser. “He’s the kind of guy that does all the dirty work to make his team win and it’s not about him our his glory – he could care less about that, and tonight was one where he did a lot of the dirty work and was obviously extremely productive.”
- Chivas USA have now won back-to-back games for the first time since Oct. 3-10, 2009. Their current five-game unbeaten string is the longest since a six-game streak that bracketed the consecutive wins.
- “We’ve had the energy [in the past], but perhaps we haven’t had the composure,” Moreno said. “But today, we were able to create the opportunities. It was a thorough performance by us in the final third and, not only did we score three goals, but we created a few more chances after that. It was one of those nights that you feel good about and look to build upon.”
- The unbeaten run has also coincided with a shift to a four-man midfield for Chivas USA. The midfield group remained the same for a third consecutive game with Simon Elliott filling the holding role behind Nick LaBrocca and Jorge Flores and Ben Zemanski on the flanks.
- “With everyone moving around the field … that’s when we’re at our best,” said Zemanski. “When we just play simple, then we’re confident as a team and as players.”
- The streak also comes as veterans players Paulo Nagamura and Jimmy Conrad – first-choice players coming into the season – are nearing fitness.
- “We have guys injured who we feel are very important parts of the team, but I think you have to look at the guys who are doing the job today and be proud of them,” said Fraser. “It’s great when we see no matter who goes into the game, the guys are understanding their roles and doing well, which is a great testament to how we’re doing as a team.”
- The game at Real Salt Lake will be followed by contests against the two conference leaders – New York and the LA Galaxy.
- “You talk about momentum, you talk about character and these games can gain some momentum in this league,” goalkeeper Dan Kennedy said. “In just two weeks, in terms of where we are in the league, standingswise, how much it can help. We just got to keep going in the right direction.
- After conceding three goals in their opening game, Chivas USA have conceded just three in the last six.
- “When we lost our first few games, we still had a belief system in what we were trying to do. We weren’t there yet, but we didn’t hit the panic button and change the way we play,” said Heath Pearce. “We stuck to the philosophy of what we’re trying to do and it’s starting to come to fruition for us.”
REAL SALT LAKE
In their first match in league play in nearly three weeks, Real Salt Lake saw their long unbeaten streak come to an end, falling 1-0 to the Portland Timbers on Saturday evening at Jeld-Wen Field. RSL start the week in a tie for second place
in the Western Conference with 12 points from 5 matches.
- The game's lone goal came in the 22nd minute. Freed down the left, Kalif Alhassan crossed a ball to the front of the RSL net and from a crowd Kenny Cooper knocked a short volley with his right foot past Real 'keeper Nick Rimando.
- RSL coach Jason Kreis made four changes to the side that had defeated the Colorado Rapids on April 13 at Rio Tinto Stadium. Chris Schuler came into the back four for Jamison Olave, Collen Warner and Jean Alexandre started in the midfield for Andy Williams and Ned Grabavoy, and Arturo Alvarez started up top in place of Fabian Espindola.
- REAL SALT LAKE (4-3-1-2): Nick Rimando - Tony Beltran (Ned Grabavoy 70), Nat Borchers, Chris Schuler, Chris Wingert - Collen Warner (Andy Williams 46), Kyle Beckerman, Jean Alexandre (Will Johnson 46), Javier Morales - Arturo Alvarez, Alvaro Saborio.
- Real Salt Lake saw their league unbeaten streak snapped at 18 games in the 1-0 loss to Portland, one game shy of the all-time league record set previously by Columbus (2004-05) and FC Dallas (2010). RSL had last lost a league game last July 17, 2-0 at FC Dallas.
- Real Salt Lake saw their 34-game unbeaten streak in all official competitions at Rio Tinto Stadium (23-0-9) come to an end during the week in the 1-0 loss to Mexico’s CF Monterrey in the CONCACAF Champions League final. They had last lost in Sandy on May 16, 2009, a 2-0 league defeat by Kansas City.
- "We're going through like every team does, a little rough patch, and we haven't had that in a long time. It's up to the older guys and veterans to get us through this time and make sure we get back to where we believe we can be as quick as possible," said Kyle Beckerman to the Deseret News.
- RSL also saw a nine-game road unbeaten streak come to an end in the loss in Portland, which was tied for the second-longest in MLS history (along with Columbus in 2004 and Chicago in 2007-08), behind only a 12-game road run by FC Dallas last season. Real have four of five games at home in May.
- “We’ve seen the end of what was a fantastic run in the CONCACAF Champions League, we see the end of a four-game winning streak, and we see the end of an 18-game unbeaten streak,” Kreis said. “But with the ending of everything comes the beginning of something new, so we need to get ready for what should be a fantastic May with a lot of home games.”
- After the midweek loss in the Champions League final, Kreis gave a second start of the season in league play to midfielders Collen Warner and Jean Alexandre and forward Arturo Alvarez. At halftime, first-choice linkmen Andy Williams and Will Johnson came into the match.
- “It’d be completely unfair to blame anything on any of those guys. The substitutions we made were because we were one goal down and we needed the energy,” Kreis said.
- Kenny Cooper’s goal for the Timbers also snapped a 213-minute shutout streak in league play, the first MLS goal allowed by Real since Juan Pablo Angel scored for the LA Galaxy on March 26.
- RSL were not shutout in back-to-back games over the entirety of the 2010 campaign, but did not score in two games last week. Kreis had hoped to give Alvaro Saborio the weekend off, but with Paulo Junior slowed by a hamstring injury and Fabian Espindola trying to overcome the midweek loss, Saborio played the full 90 in Portland.
- “The plan was that he was supposed to rest last week,” Kreis said. “He’s got swelling in his knee. He’s doing the best that he can to try to manage. I know from being there that when you have anything like that on your mind it can affect your performance - especially for a striker.”