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  • September 18, 2010
  • • 4:00 PM
  • • Rio Tinto Stadium, Sandy, Utah
  • Referee: J. Gonzalez
  • • Attendance: 14440
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Real Salt Lake - Chicago Fire: Head To Head Preview

Real Salt Lake - Chicago Fire: Head To Head Preview

On Form

Real Salt Lake: Another week, another result for the league's most consistent team. After earning a scoreless draw in Seattle, RSL have only lost one match since the middle of May. They earned that draw while missing no less than five starters, and were a missed penalty kick away from earning the full three points. The best performance by a newcomer was center back Chris Schuler. Filling in for hulking center back Jamison Olave who was serving a suspension, Schuler made one big play after another in his first MLS minutes and was probably man of the match. There was a big question mark as to who was the backup behind Olave and Nat Borchers - Schuler put that question out to pasture.

Chicago Fire: The Fire defense has played well the last three games, giving up just two goals. Chicago has been extremely poor in the back this year, so the stronger defense is a breath of fresh air. Of course, if it weren’t for the play of Sean Johnson the defense would likely have given up more goals. One thing for sure is that the defense will have its hands full with a Real Salt Lake team that seems poised to win another championship this year.

Off Target

Salt Lake: The formerly-formidable Salt Lake offense is still very much MIA. With half the midfield and the only remotely hot striker at the moment - Fabian Espindola - missing, it was going to be tough to break the funk in Seattle. It looked like Robbie Findley would get some confidence back as he stepped up to take a penalty, but his weak effort was easily saved by Kasey Keller. Whatever confidence Findley had is probably long gone. Injuries are also becoming a big problem for this team. With six games in the next 18 days, they had better start buying magic spray by the gross or it could get really ugly.

Chicago: As the Fire defense has improved of late, the offense has declined greatly, producing just two goals in the last four games. Nery Castillo has been playing better of late, but he still has been unable to mesh well with Freddie Ljunberg. What the Fire truly lacks is a goal scoring striker and has relied on a variety of different players to step up at different times.

Tactics

Salt Lake: It is hard to get a feel for who will play against the Fire. The week of training, the minutes played on Wednesday, and progress for the wounded will be what Jason Kreis is focused on. But chances are good it won't be all the usual suspects taking the field on Saturday - some improvisation will be almost certain.

Chicago: Chicago has had its back against the wall the last three weeks and has only come up with two points. Now, with the season coming to end Chicago virtually has to win out to even have a shot at making the playoffs. Therefore one would expect an attacking minded line up that would push for the victory on the road, but with Chicago you really don’t know what you are going to get.

 
Intangibles


Salt Lake: Again, the midweek game will dictate the team's mindset for this one to some degree. But the big intangible this week is the oft-talked-about home unbeaten streak. If RSL manage a win or draw against Chicago, the all-time league mark will be theirs at 23 games. The team and the management have focused intensely on this for a while, so everyone will be keyed up to not have the streak end while they are still tied with Columbus at 22.

Chicago: This is a must win for the Fire, but to be honest, with how Real Salt Lake has been playing a win on the road seems doubtful. Will Chicago play like they have nothing to lose, or will they pack it in as a playoff berth seems less and less likely.

 
Outcome

Salt Lake: The schedule and the injury situation are making it pretty tough for RSL at the moment, but they've shown they have the depth to overcome those things. Real Salt Lake 2-0 Chicago Fire.


Chicago: I expect Real Salt Lake to be too much for Chicago and to win easily, 3-1.

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Available Squads
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6Nat BorchersDefender
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2Tony Beltran Defender
4Will JohnsonStriker
5Kyle BeckermanMidfielder
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20Ned GrabavoyMidfielder
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