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Real Salt Lake 0 - Chicago Fire 0 - recap, stats, and post match quotes

Once again thanks to the great crew at RSL Communications (Trey, John & the interns) we get an update complete with locker room comments from both teams.  Let me just say, given all the circumstances getting a draw against a team that hasn't lost in their last 4 matches and keeping a clean sheet is a good result for RSL.


Despite Absences Due to Injury & Suspension, RSL Battles for Eighth Shutout of Season, Earning Road Point for 15th Time in Last 18 MLS Games 

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. (Wednesday, June 22, 2011) - Real Salt Lake (6-3-5, 23 pts.) and the Chicago Fire (2-4-10, 16 pts.) battled to a scoreless draw at Toyota Park tonight, allowing RSL to earn a tie or win for the sixth time in the last seven meetings between the clubs. The tie was RSL's third in-a-row, while the scoreless draw marked RSL's third such result of the season. 

RSL GK Nick Rimando notched four saves on the night in recording his seventh clean sheet of 2011 (RSL has eight, courtesy of GK Kyle Reynish at NE on April 9). The shutout was the 81st of Rimando's illustrious MLS career, 45 of which have come as a member of the Claret-and-Cobalt since his arrival on the Wasatch Front in 2007. The vaunted RSL defense has allowed one goal or fewer in 12 of its 14 MLS games this season, letting in just eight goals thus far (including two on PKs), a pace that projects to only 19 goals allowed in a 34-game regular-season.  A year ago, RSL allowed just 20 goals in the 30-game campaign, setting a new standard in MLS annals and breaking the record set by the 2007 Houston Dynamo

In the five games since May 28, RSL Head Coach Jason Kreis has paired FW Fabian Espíndola and converted MF Jean Alexandre up top in the attack. However, that pairing was torn asunder on  Tuesday when Alexandre was suspended prior to the team's departure for Chicago, and suffered a knockout blow when Espíndola - fouled by Fire DF Cory Gibbs in the game's 4th minute - aggravated a left hamstring strain and was forced to leave the match. 

Rookie FW Artur Aghasyan - making just his fourth career MLS appearance - replaced Alexandre in the starting lineup, while 17-year old phenom Luis Gil - normally a midfielder - came off the bench to replace Espíndola. The young legs of Aghasyan - the cousin of former RSL FW Yura Movsisyan - went 69 minutes on the evening, while Gil equaled the most extensive action of his career by playing 83 minutes, previously matched back on June 11 at Philadelphia in his lone MLS start.

more after the jump:

Real Salt Lake Match Notes 


  • Real Salt Lake has scored just seven goals in the eight games played since MF Javier Morales went down, this after scoring a league-high 45 goals in 2010 ... Joining Morales in the infirmary since late April has been FW Paulo Jr. (10 games) and FW Fabian Espíndola (2 games), while FW Álvaro Saborío (7 games), FW Arturo Alvarez (7 games) and MF Will Johnson (4 games) have been unavailable due to Gold Cup or injury. 
  • Despite the late collapse at Columbus and the difficult start at Philadelphia, Real Salt Lake - once the worst road team in the history of MLS - has earned points in 15 of its last 18 MLS road games - the equivalent of more than an entire season - dating back to May, 2010 ... The road forays have been low-scoring, as RSL has outscored opponents 14-12 on aggregate goals in that span - while Jason Kreis' team has dropped just six of its last 28 overall if you include CONCACAF and MLS Cup Playoff road matches (and one loss, April 5 at Saprissa, still clinched the series for RSL). 
  • This recent advent of road success - marred by the playoff loss at FC Dallas, yet enhanced by road results at Columbus, Saprissa and Monterrey in CCL play - marked the team's first-ever nine-game undefeated streak away from home and places the squad's all-time regular season road mark at 16-57-25 (.260; 89 GF / 164 GA). 
  • Since Kreis took over, RSL's MLS road mark is 12-33-20, with the four road wins in 2010 doubling the two earned in each of the 2007-09 seasons ... Seven games down (2-2-3, 9 pts), 10 to go in 2011. 
  • Real Salt Lake's midweek trip to Chicago was the second of 4 games in 11 days across MLS and Open Cup play and precedes a return to its Rio Tinto Stadium "Fortress" to kick off a stretch Saturday where five of its next six games and six out of eight will be played at home. On top of that stretch, RSL will host at least one additional game in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup tourney, on June 28 v the USL PRO side Wilmington Hammerheads Tuesday at 7:00 p.m. MT. 
  • While Real Salt Lake has played fewer games to this point than any other Major League Soccer side, the next 11 games (6 home, 5 away) in June/July/August will define the campaign for Jason Kreis' side, which has battled key injuries, Gold Cup absences and CONCACAF Champions League disappointment since late April ... 
  • Of the next 11 MLS opponents, only 3 have a winning record entering this week (7/9 v DAL; 7/23 v SJ; 8/6 v NY), while one team is an even .500 (7/30 v CLB) ... RSL faces all of those sides at home, while the remaining seven foes are currently sub-.500 squads (Toronto FC, New England, @Vancouver, @Kansas City, @Toronto FC, @Houston and @Chivas USA). 
  • Following this stretch, RSL will play only four of its final nine games of the season at home, with five very difficult road contests @Seattle, @New York, @D.C. United, @Los Angeles and @Colorado. 
  • RSL Assistant Coach C.J. Brown - who spent all 13 of his years as a professional playing for the Chicago Fire - was honored post-game in front of the Fire faithful Wednesday night at Toyota Park ... Brown's wife, Kim, and two girls, Canessa and Kali were in attendance as the Fire welcomed back the player whoappeared in 370 matches across all competitions for the "Men in Red," by far the most appearances in the club's history.
  • Real Salt Lake will keep its string of six-straight games against Eastern Conference opposition going this Saturday, June 25, when the Claret-and-Cobalt host Toronto FC (2-6-9, 15 pts.) at Rio Tinto Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7:00 p.m. MT and can be seen live on GolTV Canada or the MLS Direct Kick package.




Goals by Period                    1          2          F

Chicago Fire                           0          0          0

Real Salt Lake                        0          0          0


Scoring Summary:


Misconduct Summary:
CHI - Cory Gibbs (caution; Tactical Foul) 3

RSL - Will Johnson (caution; Foul) 46+

RSL - Robbie Russell (caution; Foul) 50

CHI - Orr Barouch (caution; Diving) 64 


Real Salt Lake -- Nick Rimando; Robbie Russell, Jamison Olave, Nat Borchers, Tony Beltran; Kyle Beckerman, Ned Grabavoy, Will Johnson, Collen Warner (Nelson Gonzalez 84); Fabian Espíndola (Luis Gil 7), Artur Aghasyan (Andy Williams 69) 

Substitutes Not Used: Rauwshan McKenzie, Chris Schuler, Donny Toia, Kyle Reynish. 

Chicago Fire - Sean Johnson; Yamith Cuesta, Cory Gibbs, Gonzalo Segares, Jalil Anibaba; Baggio Husidic (Corben Bone 80), Daniel Paladini, Patrick Nyarko; Orr Barouch (Marco Pappa 70), Diego Chaves (Gabriel Ferrari 86), Dominic Oduro 

Substitutes Not Used: Josip Mikulic, Bratislav Ristic, Michael Videira, Jon Conway

Referee: Juan Guzman
Referee's Assistants: Fabio Tovar, Frank Anderson
4th Official: Abbey Okulaja
Attendance: 14,972
Time of Game: 
Weather: Cloudy-and-70-degrees




On losing Espindola to injury early in the match: 

"It dumbfounds me a little bit at the moment.  That is literally our fourth or fifth forward now that's been ruled unavailable through one circumstance or another through national call-ups, injuries, suspension so it's uncanny.  I don't remember ever a time being in such dire straits to solve who to play as forward.  Literally tonight we had for 70 minutes of the game an apprentice player and a seventeen year old as our two forwards out there.  Credit to them because I thought that did a pretty admirable job.  At least they fought for everything." 

On Espindola's injury: 

"It's a hamstring issue.  It's been lingering a little bit.  It was bothering him Saturday night and showed up again when Gibbs kicked him up the backside.  We don't know what the status is. We won't know until the very earliest tomorrow." 

On getting Will Johnson return to the lineup: 

"Will is an important player for us.  The ground he covers and the energy he brings to the game for us is hugely important.  Tonight was no different.  There were a lot of critical, critical tackles for us and he put himself in some really good spots and even going forward I thought he was pretty decent.  On a different night he has an assist or a goal because he put himself in great positions." 

On Collen Warner's shot and Johnson's one-handed save: 

"Another night where I think Collen did quite a few good things.  Is he having a 100% game for us right now? No, but he's a very young player and he's being asked to play a very difficult position.  He had a good night for himself.  He put himself in two spots, but on a different night he scores because he's really pretty good in front of the goal.  I think we're moving forward with that." 

On being winless in the last four matches: 

"Listen, you can look at it with a glass half empty, I will look at it as half full.  That's three games without a loss.  We don't have any forwards, so I think that's okay." 


On the match: 

"It was okay.  We came to get a win.  Our main concern was to get a shut out so we're able to do that.  I thought if we were a bit sharper in front of the goal, we maybe could have left with three." 

On Espindola's early injury affecting the team's strategy: 

"It was tough to take but it was like it was so early that we were not even into the game yet and by the time he got injured we were still starting the game, just with a new player.  I thought Luis [Gil] who came in for Espindola did well.  We tried not to miss a beat but Fabby's been such a huge player for us so it was a bit of an adjustment, but I think we got on with it." 

On the new forwards: 

"I thought they did pretty well.  They worked hard and kept possession and created chances but we just need to get sharper in front of goal." 

On reorganizing the team's lineup: 

"Guys are having to play different positions but we just have to get on with it.  There's a bunch of games [coming up] and you can't really complain because nobody really cares.  There's another game on the schedule and you have to play it.  If we play with a couple midfielders up top, so be it.  We have to be able and try to score some goals." 

On facing Toronto: 

"You don't really know what to expect with Toronto.  They get a tie in Los Angeles and then they seem to lose at home so it's sort of a jekyll and hyde type team.  They are a team trying to find themselves.  But you know, we'll try take some confidence from this game and really try to put the pressure on Toronto and get three points at home.  That should be a successful week." 


On the match: 

"I thought we came in here with the intention of getting three points.  I thought we battled well and possessed the ball a lot better on the road than we have before.  We fought hard enough to get a point.  I thought the performance from the guys up front did well knowing they weren't going to play.  They worked hard and they kept the ball for us and that's what you have to ask from the young guys, that they can come in and help this team." 

On the defense's performance the first half versus the second half: 

"I thought we played great defense.  I think their opportunities came from our mistakes.  Bad clearances, bad calls, bad giveaways, but I thought we reacted well and we put all of our fires out.  Defensively same in the second half.  We came out strong, we wanted to make sure we guarded our door and put the ball on the flanks where we have a lot of speed.  I thought we did well with that." 

On Sean Johnson's save on Collen Warner's shot in the first half: 

"It was great.  I had a chance to work with Sean in January at the U.S. Men's National Camp.  I think he's a great young keeper.  He's definitely going to mature the more he plays, and I think he's learning that more this year.  He has to just keep his head up and keep moving on.  I think he always capable of those types of saves, knowing that just from training with him.  I think he's going to be a U.S. ‘keeper for sure in the future." 


"This has probably been one of the hardest things that I've had to do, I think.  Listening and watching when they did the video, I think I've seen some of those clips before, and it finally settled in that I'm not here anymore.  It was a little tough, but I do appreciate the years that I've been here.  All the fan support, all the support from the Chicago Fire, the staff and my family made it a fast 13 years.  I was just playing and doing what I love, and now I get to move on in the coaching part.  I've always wanted to stay apart of the game and RSL is allowing me to do that.  Jason (Kreis) thought I'd fit in well with their group and I was very appreciative to allow me to come out there and try and help coach a very good team.  

It's tough, it's tough coming back here wearing a different badge, different colors and sitting on the bench of the away team.  It's never something that I thought I'd be doing, but it is what it is and I'm very appreciative of the opportunity I have and I'm going to run with it. 

I'm very loyal to Chicago and did everything I could to make this a good club as much as possible and now I have to focus on my new career.  

There are 13 years of memories here and the good thing is that are more good memories than bad.  It was fun to be playing in the old Soldier Field, winning championship, playing with great players  like Francis Okaroh, Peter Nowak, Hristo Stoitchkov, Campos,  Blanco and the list goes on with all the great players, including national team players like Beasley and Bocanegra.  Then you look at the guys who just work hard like Logan Pause and Chris Armas.  There are just so many memories I could be here all day and all night and write a huge book about all the great experiences that I've had here.  That's why I think it's so hard to come and go through what we did tonight.  I appreciate everything, it was awesome.  I was glad people still appreciate me, I was scared that people wouldn't take to me very well because I'm wearing a different uniform, but everyone has been very supportive.  They aren't happy about the color, but they are happy for me and that's great." 



On the result: 

"It was obviously two different halves.  I felt in the first half we didn't have a good start to the game.  We were sluggish, not very good with the ball, especially in the middle of the field we need to be quicker because they are a team that overplays the ball, and the minute they lose it they put tremendous pressure on to win it back.    The last couple of days we had to prepare, we worked on being very quick with one to two touch combination play and to switch the ball away from pressure and I felt we weren't as sharp.  We forced the ball and made turnovers at times when it was a dangerous situation, and we weren't quick enough to get out of the situations.  I felt the second half was better for us.  We moved the ball better, we were looking to switch the point of attack to attack the ball from wide spots.  Gonzalo (Segares) made a lot of runs forward to help Nyarko on that side and create some two versus one situations.  We pushed the game, and unfortunately  in the end we only got one point.  We've got to keep working and building." 

On Sean Johnson's performance: 

"He's been gaining confidence.  When we needed him to make plays and do the things he's supposed to do in the game he's done that.  He's made saves, not only in this game, to keep us in the game and give us an opportunity to win.  That position has a lot to with confidence.  He's young and I think he has tremendous upside." 


Thoughts on starting his first game: 

"I think that I did well.  I think that we could have attacked more, but our team did well and starting in my first game it was good overall.  We were just unlucky with the draw, but wins will come. 

On how the attack can do better: 

"I feel at times we can be a bit unlucky, whether it's hitting the post, sliding or sometimes just not getting to the ball.  Over time if you keep working good things will come. 


On his performance: 

"I think that the guys battled for 90 minutes, and when we battle we always give ourselves a chance to win.  The guys in front of me, especially the defenders, made my job easier tonight.  We'll keep working and get stronger as a defensive unit , but this game is something to build on.  I just try my best to keep my team in the game, when your team gives you 100% that's all you can ask for.  Tonight coming out 0-0 is a fair result, but we'll definitely be pushing to get three on Sunday." 

On a quick turnaround to face New York on Sunday: 

"I think most importantly we come in tomorrow and get the regen done.  Once we get the game out of our legs we'll start to look forward and prepare for the New York game.  We'll do the things necessary to be fresh and ready to go on Sunday."

You know I take away a couple things that some people may not see from this match, first reading the comments of C.J. Brown lets you know how much of a class act the guy is and why RSL wanted him on their staff.  I think he is a guy that we were lucky to get and will be a huge part of this organization moving forward.

Second, Adversity is not going to wreck us, you know first the Champions League final, then the injury to Javier Morales, then the injury to Paulo Jr, the injury to recovering Cody Arnoux, the slump of Sabo, then Gold Cup call ups, and then last minute suspensions and early injuries in a match and this team could have easily packed it in and called it a night.  They didn't, they did the opposite the banded together on the pitch and played with heart and passion and were the better team on the night, not by much but they were the better team.  So while some people are looking at the last 5 matches would see only one win and panic, I see only one loss and given the circumstances that is fairly amazing.  Sure I would love more wins, and yes I still believe with my whole heart that they will come and come in bunches this year.  Facing this adversity will only make the entire of the team better.