Will confidence override tired legs?
When Real Salt Lake takes on Houston Dynamo this Sunday at BBVA Compass Stadium, the Claret-and-Cobalt might not be sure just what type of team they will be facing. Sunday’s match will be Houston’ s third game in eight days, but the Dynamo will be riding high after back-to-back wins. So will Houston’s confidence and winning streak overpower their potentially tired legs?
Houston routed Chivas USA 4-1 at StubHub Center on last Saturday with goals supplied by U.S. internationals Brad Davis and Will Bruin, and a brace from English forward Giles Barnes. The Dynamo then returned to Texas and shutout Columbus Crew in a 1-0 win on Wednesday, with Bruin producing the game-winner and Davis supplying the assist.
Things seem to be clicking for the Texas side that now sits second in the Eastern Conference with a 4-4-2 record and total of 14 points. Sunday will also be the last MLS match before U.S. Manager Jurgen Klinsmann announces his 30-man preliminary World Cup roster. Houston’s U.S. internationals Davis and Bruin will surely be looking to shine in order to make a late case for their inclusion.
Tired legs might be something RSL can exploit on Sunday, but one can never underestimate the power of a confident and in-form side – especially, at home.
Video: Beckerman and Rimando featured in first look at ESPN's "Inside: U.S. Soccer's March to Brazil"
As part of its coverage of this summer’s World Cup, ESPN will be airing a six-part documentary series called “Inside: U.S. Soccer’s March to Brazil.” The series will take an all-access look at the USMNT as it prepares for Brazil, giving viewers a behind the scenes look with Jurgen Klinsmann and the full squad in the months and weeks leading up to the tournament.
Directed by Jonathan Hock – the man behind the well-done “MLS Insider” series – and Roger Bennett – ESPNFC writer, Men in Blazers podcaster and noted fan of Kyle Beckerman – the first episode of the series will air next Tuesday and will run for five consecutive weeks.
ESPN released a preview of the series yesterday, and we’ve taken the liberty of embedding it above. Beckerman and RSL teammate Nick Rimando are featured in the preview, and we promise that it’s well worth a watch. Check it out up top.
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 defender Chris Wingert sat down with X96’s Richie T. Steadman recently for an in-depth interview touching on a few things we don’t normally see Chris elaborate on. The veteran left back goes deep on growing up in Long Island, his childhood days as a basketball player, his father’s professional soccer career and his life off the field in the wide-ranging piece, the first in a series of sit-downs that Richie T – the producer of X96’s popular “Radio from Hell” morning show – will have with RSL players this year.
Check out Wingert’s interview above.
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.