Preview: Chicago Fire vs Real Salt Lake

SANDY, Utah – Real Salt Lake kicks off a run of four road games out of the next five with a weekend trip to Bridgeview, Ill., in suburban Chicago, the visitors in a Saturday afternoon matinee match against the Fire at Toyota Park. Local TV coverage kicks off on KMYU (2.2 air / 12 satellite / 22+643 Comcast) at 12:30 p.m. MT, with the game also carried on ESPN700 (12 noon pre-game) and La Gran D 102.3 FM / 1600 AM.

Real Salt Lake (2-2-5, 10 points, West 6) closed out a two-game homestand Wednesday at Rio Tinto Stadium with an electric 0-0 draw against the LA Galaxy, unable to snap what is now an active five-game winless streak, RSL last winning on Easter Sunday, April 5, at San Jose. That match marked one of three road shutouts this season for GK Nick Rimando, whose stoppage-time penalty-kick save Wednesday preserved the point for RSL.

Rimando’s denial of LA MF Juninho’s offering was the SEVENTH for the #WalloftheWasatch in his last NINE attempts faced, and his eighth save of the last 13 over the last four seasons (no other MLS GK has more than four saves in that span). All-time, Rimando opponents have failed on 24 of 66 attempts in his 15-year career, including 15 of 36 tries since his move to RSL in 2007.

Rimando has opened 2015 with road clean sheets at Portland, Kansas City and San Jose this season, bringing his all-time MLS-record total to 119 after Wednesday night. Rimando has 10 of his career clean sheets against the Fire, who tallied twice in the first 30 minutes against RSL in the clubs’ meeting a year ago in Chicago. However, a late brace from FW Joao Plata (72’, 93+”) and his assist on FW Alvaro Saborio’s late equalizer (91+’) secured RSL’s first – and only – two-goal comeback win away from home to extend the club’s season-opening unbeaten run to nine games.

How to Follow Real Salt Lake @ Chicago Fire

•   Coverage Begins: 12:30 p.m. MT

•   TV: KMYU – David James & Brian Dunseth

•   English Radio: ESPN700 AM (12 noon MT) – Bill Riley, Jeremy Horton & Brian Kamler

•   Spanish Radio: 102.3 La Gran D FM / 1600 AM – Nelson Moran & Fernando Hortal

•   Online: The @RealSaltLake Twitter Feed will provide match updates

Game Guide for Wednesday’s RSL @ Chicago Match Now Available Online
Following is the link to the Adobe PDF version of the MLS Game Guide in advance of Saturday’s contest between Real Salt Lake and Chicago.

Click here to download the PDF version of the MLS Game Guide for Saturday’s RSL @ CHI matchup

All-Time RSL History v. Chicago Fire

Despite the high of last year’s Toyota Park comeback against the Fire, RSL’s lasting memory to this point in the clubs’ series is the 0-0 shootout win in the 2009 MLS Eastern Conference Finals to launch the 5th-seeded Utah side into that year’s Cup at Seattle against LA, eventually won – also by shootout – by RSL. GK Nick Rimando saved a pair of the tiebreaking spot kicks to help RSL claw back from a 1-3 deficit, with former RSL men and Chicago natives Ned Grabavoy and Will Johnson gleefully converting their chances against Jon Busch in the shootout ...

All-time, including that match, RSL owns a 4-6-8 mark against the Fire, including a 2-3-5 away mark. RSL’s 4-6-7 mark in reg. season play vs. the Fire represents the fewest wins against an MLS team (except PHI and MTL, which have faced RSL fewer than 7 times), while RSL’s -7 goal difference is its worst overall.

Of RSL’s 20 all-time Major League Soccer opponents, only one – Chicago – owns a +.500 mark on Utah soil.  All-time, the Fire is 3-2-3 at either Rice-Eccles or Rio Tinto Stadiums (outscoring RSL 12-7), the Fire also responsible for RSL’s worst-ever home defeat, as the 0-3 performance back on Sept. 28, 2011, remembered for a 10’ Beckerman red card and a Pappa hat trick. To add insult to injury, the 20,762 in attendance that night marked the all-time record RSL crowd in Sandy, a mark broken earlier this year on Sunday, 3/29 v TFC.

Due to a scheduling quirk with the addition of NYCFC and Orlando in 2015, RSL visits the Fire for a second consecutive season (balanced by RSL hosting Toronto FC in both 2014 and 2015). RSL assistant coach Andy Williams was claimed in the 2004 expansion draft from Chicago, while former assistant C.J. Brown was inducted into the “Ring of Fire” during RSL’s 2012 visit to Toyota Park. Injured DF Chris Schuler (knee) grew up playing in the area, as did former RSL GM Garth Lagerwey, in addition to Grabavoy/Johnson.

Former RSL men Clint Mathis (assistant coach) and DF Lovel Palmer now call the Fire home.

Busy May Continues This Week; Open Cup / CCL Paths Determined

After Wednesday, RSL plays 4 of its next 5 away from home, with games at Chicago and Montreal each of the next two weekends prior to the Jason Kreis/NYCFC homecoming on May 23, then another two-game week involving the Galaxy, playing at StubHub on May 27 and at Vancouver on May 30 ...

RSL is currently 1-1-2 away from home – allowing all 4 road goals at NE on 4/25, but securing three road shutouts already (club only had 5 all of last season). In June and July, RSL will have six of its eight MLS matches at home.

In mid-May, RSL should receive from CONCACAF the group assignments from the draw for the 2015/16 Champions League tourney, with two home games and two away scheduled during six possible matchdates in August/September/October.  Late in the month, RSL and the other U.S.-based MLS sides should receive an idea on dates/times/opponents and sites for the 2015 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup tournament, which sees the Round of 32 kickoff in mid-June for the Major League Soccer teams.

RSL experiences a pair of two-game road trips in May sandwiched around the much-anticipated visit on Saturday, May 23, from former captain/head coach Jason Kreis and expansion NYCFC, the new home for such RSL luminaries as Ned Grabavoy, Chris Wingert, Mehdi Ballouchy, Josh Saunders, Kwame Watson-Siriboe and Sebastian Velazquez.

The weekends of May 9 and 16 sees RSL travel to Chicago and Montreal for a pair of Eastern Conference road trips, while Wednesday, May 27 involves a return trip to LA – the club’s first since last Fall’s 0-5 playoff elimination at the Stubhub Center – and a continuation up the West Coast to Vancouver on Saturday, May 30, the first game on the new BC Place turf being installed for the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup.