Saturday’s come-from-behind, 3-2 win at Chicago was pretty awesome.
Even more awesome? This fantastic selfie taken by RSL’s Jeff Attinella, Luke Mulholland, John Stertzer, Chris Wingert, Chris Schuler and Aaron Maund.
The boys took the selfie to have a bit of fun with teammate Cole Grossman, who was not on the trip due to injury and took this legendary selfie earlier in the week:
Office consensus prefers the locker room selfie. Cole’s just seems a bit weird.
Real Salt Lake will travel to the Windy City this weekend, taking on the Chicago Fire at 6:30 p.m. MT on Saturday night at Toyota Park. Here are a few storylines to watch ahead of the match, which will be broadcast live on CW30.
Rimando again aims for history
After coming agonizingly close last week, RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando will again look to make history on Saturday, needing one more shutout to tie retired ‘keeper Kevin Hartman for the all-time MLS regular season clean-sheet record at 112. Rimando only has two more chances to tie the record before his likely May 14 departure to the U.S. Men’s National Team ahead of this summer’s World Cup in Brazil.
RSL looks to stay unbeaten
It hasn’t always been perfect, but – at 3-0-5 – RSL remains the lone undefeated team in MLS, looking to extend its unbeaten start to nine games against the Fire on Saturday. RSL is currently on a 12-game regular season unbeaten streak dating back to last September, the second-longest regular season unbeaten streak in club history. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, a result on Saturday would make RSL just the eighth team in MLS history to start a season unbeaten in its first nine games.
Just how they drew it up
RSL and Chicago have both drawn quite a bit this year, with the Claret-and-Cobalt tied for second in the league with five draws and Chicago tops in MLS with six ties. Combined, the two clubs have tied an astonishing 11 times in 15 total matches this year. RSL and Chicago have also tied their last two meetings with each other, drawing 1-1 at Rio Tinto Stadium last year and playing to a scoreless draw in May 2012 in Chicago.
As detailed on this very site earlier this week, there are plenty of connections between these two teams, with no less than 10 players, coaches or technical staff members on both sides of the contest having close connections to other city or organization. Some of the most notable connections include current Chicago defender and former RSL man Lovel Palmer, current Chicago/ex-RSL Assistant Coach C.J. Brown and RSL’s Chicago-area natives Ned Grabavoy, Chris Schuler and Garth Lagerwey.
Can RSL improve upon tough history against Chicago?
Real Salt Lake has struggled historically against the Fire, posting a 3-6-7 all-time regular season record – one of RSL’s worst against any team – against Chicago. Given that record, it’s no surprise that RSL hasn’t done all that well in Chicago, posting a 1-4-3 record in the Windy City, with the club’s only win at the Fire coming on July 8, 2010.
MLSsoccer.com's Dan Haiek and Matt Doyle previewed Saturday's Real Salt Lake at Chicago tilt, taking a look at dangerous RSL forward Joao Plata and suspended Chicago forward Qunicy Amarikwa in their Scouting Report video series.
Give the above video a watch before Saturday's 6:30 p.m. MT kick. As always, it's worth the time.
RSL’s last trip to Chicago wasn’t much to write home about, with the teams playing to a sleepy scoreless draw at Toyota Park on May 9, 2012.
So, instead of showing the highlights from that slow affair – or last year’s 1-1 draw between the sides here at Rio Tinto Stadium – we’ll bring back a RSL classic: The highlight tape from the Claret-and-Cobalt’s 2009 Eastern Conference Final victory at Chicago.
Watch and enjoy above ahead of Saturday’s tilt between RSL and the Fire at Toyota Park.
Real Salt Lake will hit the road again this week, traveling to Chicago to take on the Fire on Saturday at Toyota Park (6:30 p.m. MT, CW30).
Plenty of members of both RSL and the Fire have connections to the other side, with no less than 10 total players, coaches and technical staff members either having played for the other organization, or having ties to the other city.
Check out the full list of RSL-Chicago connections below:
Real Salt Lake:
Kwame Watson-Siriboe: Drafted in the second round by the Fire in 2010 MLS SuperDraft, Watson-Siriboe played 10 league games for Chicago before moving to Real Salt Lake halfway through the 2012 season.
Ned Grabavoy: The 30-year-old Grabavoy was born and raised in the Chicago area, where he played for notable youth club Chicago Magic, led Lincoln-Way Central High School to two-straight Illinois State Championship games and was named the 2000-01 Gatorade National High School Player of the Year.
Chris Schuler: Like Grabavoy, Schuler grew up in the Chicago area, playing for Chicago Magic youth club and starring at Waubonsie Valley High School. Schuler spent a bit of time in the Fire’s sytem, playing for the Chicago Fire Premier USL-Premier Development League club during the summers of his college years.
Andy Williams: RSL Assistant Coach Andy Williams spent a pair of seasons with the Fire, playing 49 games in Chicago in 2003 and 2004 before getting picked up by RSL in the 2004 MLS Expansion Draft. While in Chicago, Williams actually spent time as a roommate of RSL Goalkeeping Coach Daryl Shore, who was then the Fire’s GK Coach.
Daryl Shore: Claret-and-Cobalt Goalkeeper Coach Daryl Shore was a longtime member of the Fire organization, leading Chicago’s goalkeepers from 2000-2009. Shore helped Chicago to the 2000, 2003 and 2006 Open Cup titles and 2003 MLS Supporters’ Shield.
Garth Lagerwey: Like Grabavoy and Schuler, RSL GM Garth Lagerwey grew up in the Chicago area, playing for the same Chicago Magic youth club and earning plaudits as a prep player at York High School. Lagerwey’s parents still live in the Chicago area, and are actually Fire season ticket holders.
Lovel Palmer: Chicago’s starting right back, Palmer spent one memorable season in Salt Lake, appearing in 21 games across all competitions for the 2013 team that came oh-so-close to bringing home some major hardware.
Kyle Reynish: Reynish spent five seasons in Salt Lake as backup to Nick Rimando. Now 30, Reynish signed as Chicago’s backup this offseason. He appeared in 14 games across all competitions for RSL.
Clint Mathis: A newly minted assistant under Chicago Head Coach Frank Yallop, Mathis had two stints as an RSL player, playing with the team in its inaugural season of 2005 and again from 2008-09. Mathis appeared in 74 games across all competitions for RSL, scoring five goals, adding 11 assists and helping the Claret-and-Cobalt to the 2009 MLS Cup title.
C.J. Brown: A longtime Chicago Fire player, Brown joined the RSL coaching staff as an assistant in 2011 after retiring as a Fire player the previous season. Brown went back to Chicago this offseason, joining Yallop’s staff as the first assistant last December.
Everyone should have their eyes glued to their TVs this weekend as the MLS regular-season comes to a close with clubs still vying for playoff spots and the Supporters’ Shield. This weekend’s results hold major implications as to whether or not RSL will win the Supporters’ Shield or the Western Conference and who the Claret-and-Cobalt will face in the Western Conference Semifinals.
Real Salt Lake will be bystanders this weekend as the Claret-and-Cobalt finished its regular-season with Wednesday’s 2-1 win over Chivas USA. Wednesday’s win clinched a top-two West seed for RSL, meaning the Claret-and-Cobalt will play away in the first leg of the Western Conference Semifinals on Nov. 2 or Nov. 3 before returning home to Rio Tinto Stadium for the West Semi second leg on Nov. 6 or Nov. 7. Real Salt Lake could still play any of the West playoff teams of Portland, LA Galaxy, Seattle Sounders FC or Colorado Rapids in the West Semifinals.
RSL currently sits in first-place in the Supporters’ Shield race and Western Conference with a total of 56 points, 16 wins and 57 goals scored.
With so much at stake this weekend, here is a list of all the key matches that affect RSL and who you should be rooting for:
Philadelphia Union vs. Sporting Kansas City – 1:00 p.m. MT on NBC Sports Network
The Claret-and-Cobalt will need Sporting Kansas City to lose or draw at PPL Park in order for RSL’s Supporters’ Shield hopes to stay alive. Sporting Kansas City currently sits in second-place in the Eastern Conference with a total of 55 points, one point behind the New York Red Bulls. If Kansas City draws Philadelphia and ends up tied with RSL on points and wins, the Claret-and-Cobalt would place ahead based on the goals for tiebreaker, granted Kansas City doesn’t score 12 goals. The Philadelphia Union is facing a must-win situation in order to keep their postseason aspiration alive. This one’s easy: root for the Union.
Chivas USA vs. Portland Timbers – 8:30 p.m. MT on MLS Live
The Portland Timbers are the only team that can push RSL out of first-place in the Western Conference. A win for the Timbers at the StubHub Center would guarantee Caleb Porter’s squad first-place in the Western Conference and put an end to the Claret-and-Cobalt’s chance at the Supporters’ Shield. Portland currently has a total of 54 points, meaning a draw against Chivas USA would be enough to keep RSL first in the Western Conference. A Chivas USA win or draw might seem unlikely with their current record of 6-19-8, but everyone loves to root for the underdog. Let’s hope the Goats can end the season on a higher note and produce a result at home.
New York Red Bulls vs. Chicago Fire – 3:00 p.m. MT on UniMas
This one won’t impact the Western Conference, but it does hold huge implications in the battle for the Supporters’ Shield. Real Salt Lake sits atop the league table narrowly leading New York by the goals for tiebreaker with 57 goals to New York’s 53. Any result by New York against Chicago will officially end the Claret-and-Cobalt’s run for the Supporters’ Shield. Chicago enters the match desperate for a win in order to keep its own playoff hopes alive. Pull for Mike Magee to keep his scoring form and work some magic at Red Bull Arena.
Vancouver Whitecaps FC vs. Colorado Rapids – 6:00 p.m. MT on MLS Live
This match won’t affect RSL’s standing in the Western Conference but it can affect who RSL will face in the Western Conference Semifinals. Colorado will need a draw or a win in order to officially clinch a playoff berth. If RSL finishes in first-place it will take on the winner of the fourth-place vs. fifth-place knockout game. If RSL finishes in second-place, it will face the third-place team in the West. If Colorado does earn a result at Vancouver, its playoff placement won’t be determined until after the final MLS regular-season game between Seattle and LA. Colorado would need a win and for LA and Seattle to draw in order to clinch third-place which would most likely mean a Rocky Mountain Cup semifinal series, assuming RSL finishes in second-place. A RSL vs. Colorado playoff game would be the first of its kind. Who to root for? Follow your heart.
Seattle Sounders FC vs. LA Galaxy – 7:00 p.m. MT on ESPN
The final match of the MLS regular-season will definitely be an entertaining one with the former MLS champions taking on Western Conference rival Seattle Sounders FC. Seattle is suffering an epic blowout to end its regular-season, losing its last four matches by a combined margin of 12-2. Despite Seattle’s recent run of poor form, they have already clinched a playoff berth. This match will determine whether or not Seattle or LA will avoid the fourth-place vs. fifth-place knockout game. LA and Seattle will want to grab as many points as possible to put as much room between them and the red line. Who to root against? Both.
Real Salt Lake couldn’t quite hold on against the Chicago Fire on Saturday night, taking the lead through forward Alvaro Saborio in the 78th minute before seeing Chicago forward Quincy Amarikwa equalize in the 84th to tie the Fire 1-1 at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Here are a few interesting numbers from Saturday’s draw:
Saturday night’s game was the 209th career regular season match that RSL captain Kyle Beckerman and RSL defender Nat Borchers have played together, moving them past former New England teammates Shalrie Joseph and Matt Reis and into first-place on the list of teammates that have played the most games together.
Borchers and Beckerman played together in Colorado from 2003-2005 before reuniting at Real Salt Lake when Borchers signed with the club ahead of the 2008 season. In all, Borchers – who has 236 regular season appearances – has only played 27 times without Beckerman in front of him.
Thanks to Peter Hirdt of the Elias Sports Bureau for the notes on Beckerman and Borchers.
RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando became just the fourth player in league history to reach 30,000 career regular season minutes played on Saturday night. The Claret-and-Cobalt ‘keeper – who went the full 90 on Saturday – has now played 30,033 regular season minutes, trailing only New York goalkeeper Kevin Hartman (37,620), former New England attacker and current Houston Assistant Coach Steve Ralston (33,142) and Vancouver goalie Joe Cannon (30,731) on the all-time minutes played list.
Rimando’s appearance on Saturday was the 332nd regular season appearance of his career. He is now tied for eighth-place in MLS history with former RSL midfielder and current Head Scout Andy Williams on the career appearances list. Rimando is third amongst goalkeepers in games played, trailing only Hartman (416) and Cannon (342).
RSL dominated the match on Saturday, holding a 68-32 percent possession advantage over the Fire. RSL attempted 574 passes to the Fire’s 246 – a difference of 328 – and hit on 87 percent of its passes compared to Chicago’s 74 percent completion rate.
Real Salt Lake outshot the Fire 20-12 on Saturday night, putting nine shots on goal to Chicago’s two.
Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson made eight saves – several of them spectacular – to limit RSL to just one goal on Saturday night.
Real Salt Lake finds themselves at a bit of a crossroads for Saturday's match against Chicago Fire, and with that, coach Jason Kreis is forced into making some less-than-easy decisions.
Decision: With Chris Schuler set to miss out, Jason Kreis has a big decision on his hands: Does Carlos Salcedo, the young, relatively un-tested center back, start in his place, as he did against Chivas USA? Or does he opt for Kwame Watson-Siriboe, who has more experience but was suspended on Sunday? Salcedo is a solid defender despite his age, and he's showed well in his two full matches — well enough that handing him a start doesn't seem a particularly risky maneuver, and one which could well pay dividends in both the long and short term.
Decision: Alvaro Saborio has been training, but does that mean he's in line for a start? Devon Sandoval has proven a fine backup considering his relative inexperience and allows for a bit less impetus in bringing Saborio back into the fold. If precautions need to be taken, Kreis can rest a bit easier knowing Sandoval can step in.
Decision: Does RSL play with the typically high-line defense often seen at home? RSL's passing has been a bit more wayward than in 2012, and perhaps naturally so considering the more attacking bent of the midfield. This can be slightly problematic when playing with your defenders high up the pitch, as simple mistakes can lead to clear opportunities on goal. (For further reference, please see Chivas USA defending, May 19) With Salcedo in the mix, RSL would have a quick center back to partner Borchers.
Decision: With the US Open Cup home match against the Atlanta Silverbacks approaching on Tuesday, Kreis will be forced to think about rotation and approach. Chicago Fire are an opponent that might be tempting to rest players against. Winning in the Cup is a stated priority for the club, particularly as it paves a road back to CONCACAF Champions League, and ensuring that some players are available for it — or at least doing our best to do so — could weigh in the decision-making process.
Decision: Even with rotation taken into consideration, a question of who sits on the bench remains. It's a question that will plague Kreis for the remainder of the season: Who is the central backup? Who sits ready to enter midfield? Which strikers have done enough to make the bench? While the question is difficult now, it will only get more difficult as fitness improves.
Real Salt Lake has made Rio Tinto Stadium a nightmare for every MLS team but one: The Chicago Fire. The Windy City club is the only team with a winning record in Utah, posting a 3-2-2 mark against the Claret-and-Cobalt in the Beehive State.
RSL will try to correct that mark on Saturday, when it will host the Fire at 7:00 p.m. at Rio Tinto Stadium. Until then, read about the several RSL players and staff that have connections to the Fire and Chicago area.
Ned Grabavoy - Midfielder
Born in Joliet, Ill., the RSL playmaker showed his skill when he led Lincoln-Way Central High School in New Lenox, Ill. to two-straight state championship games. In his senior season, the midfielder won the 2000 Gatorade and NSCAA/adidas National High School Player of the Year awards. Grabavoy also hit the winning penalty kick that gave RSL the shootout victory at Chicago in the 2009 Eastern Conference Final.
Chris Schuler - Defender
Schuler played his club soccer for the Chicago Magic, which happens to be the same squad that produced RSL GM Garth Lagerwey and midfielder Ned Grabavoy. The defender served as a four-year captain for the club, winning the State Cup Championships from 2001-2004.
Kwame Watson-Siriboe - Defender
Watson-Siriboe was drafted by the Chicago Fire in the second round of the 2010 MLS SuperDraft. As a rookie, he appeared in 10 league matches. The center back made his professional debut alongside current RSL Assistant Coach C.J. Brown against Colorado on April 3, 2010.
C.J. Brown - Assistant Coach
Brown retired from the playing field in October 2010 after 13 seasons with the Chicago Fire. He was the last remaining “Fire Original” from the team’s 1998 inaugural campaign. The defensive standout helped lead Chicago to the 1998 MLS Cup and four Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup titles. He was inducted into the club’s “Ring of Fire” on May 9, 2012 ahead of RSL’s scoreless draw against the Fire at Toyota Park.
Andy Williams - Head Scout
Before Williams joined RSL, he was a member of the Chicago Fire from 2003-2004. “Bomma” helped the squad win the 2003 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup title and scored eight goals and added 13 assists in 59 games with the Fire.
Garth Lagerwey - General Manager
Lagerwey grew up in Elmhurst, Ill. and played club soccer for the Chicago Magic. The RSL GM attended York High School where he was a two-time Illinois all-state goalkeeper.