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Storylines to Watch: Chicago Fire vs Real Salt Lake

Goalkeepers on Display

Nick Rimando and Sean Johnson have spent their share of time around each other in recent years with both frequently called in to U.S. National Team camps.  While Rimando has 21 caps to just five for Johnson, the Chicago goalkeeper is just 25 years old and already in his sixth MLS season, giving him plenty of room to grow.

Goals will be at a premium with these two in front of net, though.  This season, Rimando has four shutouts in his seven starts, touting a 0.71 goals against average.  Johnson is at a 1.00 GAA with two shutouts in five starts this season.

Maloney-Shipp Connection

In Harrison Shipp and Shaun Maloney, the Fire have a highly capable pair in its attacking midfield.  Shipp, 23, had seven goals and six assists in in rookie campaign with Chicago last season and has followed that up with one goal and three assists in seven matches this season.  Meanwhile, Maloney is a Scottish National Team veteran at 32 years old was a standout for Celtic for 11 seasons in addition to two stops in the Premier League before coming to MLS this season.

With Chicago deploying four players into the attack, Shipp and Maloney will require particular attention from the RSL defense, particularly in the absence of David Accam to a red card and with 2013 MLS MVP Mike Magee still out with a hip injury.

Road Form

This will be the first in a stretch that will see Real Salt Lake play four out of the next five matches on the road.  Last season, RSL went 4-7-6 away from Rio Tinto Stadium and this year the Claret-and-Cobalt started strong with a 1-0-2 record without allowing any goals against the Portland Timbers, San Jose Earthquakes and Sporting Kansas City.  However, that good road luck came to an end against the New England Revolution to the tune of a 4-0 defeat on April 25 at Gillette Stadium.

The question that arises is which RSL team is closer to the club’s true identity?  The one that shut out three Western Conference foes in their own buildings?  Or the one that was torn apart by the defending Eastern Conference champions?

Stoppage-Time Heroics

On Wednesday night at Rio Tinto Stadium, Nick Rimando plucked a point out of the air when he saved Juninho’s stoppage-time penalty to earn a draw with the LA Galaxy.  Last year against the Fire, it also took some big players after the clock read 90:00 to determine the final result and it was an incredible come back for RSL.

After falling behind 2-0 in the first 30 minutes, RSL had a long way to go at Rio Tinto Stadium to find the final result.  However, Joao Plata scored in the 72nd minute and Alvaro Saborio equalized in the 90th minute.  Then, three minutes into stoppage time, Plata netted the match-winner to give Salt Lake three points.

Saturday’s match will be televised on KMYU in Salt Lake City, with pregame starting at 12:30 p.m. MT.