Join Now  | 
Home About Contact Us Privacy & Security Advertise
Soccer America Daily Soccer World Daily Special Edition Around The Net Soccer Business Insider College Soccer Reporter Youth Soccer Reporter Soccer on TV Soccer America Classifieds Game Report
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalk Soccer America Confidential Youth Soccer Insider World Cup Watch
RSS Feeds Archives Manage Subscriptions Subscribe
Order Current Issue Subscribe Manage My Subscription Renew My Subscription Gift Subscription
My Account Join Now
Tournament Calendar Camps & Academies Soccer Glossary Classifieds
Playoff era dawns in Salt Lake
by Ridge Mahoney, October 31st, 2008 7AM
Subscribe to Soccer America Daily

TAGS:  mls


[MLS PLAYOFF PREVIEW] For the past two years, former expansion doormat Chivas USA has reached the playoffs and both times it failed to advance out of the first round.

To break that drought, it must get past the other 2005 MLS debutant, Real Salt Lake, which opened its new Rio Tinto stadium just three weeks ago and on Saturday baptizes its faithful fans with playoff soccer for the first time. Chivas USA is the team with a storied tradition, albeit the legacy of its parent club Guadalajara, but the crowd edge will probably belong to RSL.

Getting into the postseason is something RSL coach Jason Kreis routinely accomplished as a player with FC Dallas. Before taking over the coaching job last year he fueled a late-season push that nearly edged RSL into the 2006 playoffs.

Out of that failure and disappointment rose a greater fervor to succeed, for Kreis, since the day he arrived in Utah, has consistently praised RSL's fans as among the most loyal and most vocal in MLS.

"I remember the feeling, the excitement, when we almost made it that year," he recalls. "These fans have been very loyal and we haven't always given them a lot of good reasons to feel that way, but I know that in the new stadium, we'll be tough to beat in the playoffs no matter who we play."

RSL dominated at home this season, winning nine and tying five of 15 matches, and at Rio Tinto in October it tied New York, 1-1, and thumped Dallas, 3-1. It also beat Chivas USA at Home Depot Center, 1-0, in June, with the Goats reversing the favor by the same score at Rice-Eccles Stadium Sept. 20.

To contain RSL's attack is to multi-task. Up front, Yura Movsisyan (seven goals) is a power forward but is also fast, Robbie Findley (six goals) relies on speed. The 15 assists registered by midfielder Javier Morales ranked second best in MLS, but Kyle Beckerman, Will Johnson and veteran Clint Mathis can set up goals and score them. Outside backs Ian Joy and Chris Wingert are willing to go forward, and there's a rugged, experienced option named Dema Kovalenko.

As has been the case all season, Chivas USA is undermanned.

Forward Maykel Galindo, who missed all but 10 games with injuries and scored just one goal, was sidelined to undergo sports hernia surgery. His preferred partner, Ante Razov, has also been in and out of the lineup, but with 11 goals in 33 playoff games can be counted on to produce under pressure.

Sacha Kljestan (five goals, seven assists) put up decent numbers and his skill is unquestioned. Yet he's still plagued by a tendency to drift out of games, and head coach Preki has tried him in different spots to get the right midfield mix.

Midfielder Jesse Marsch has recovered from a broken jaw but defender Lawson Vaughn needed left ankle surgery and is out for the season. A knee injury has sidelined Sasha Victorine yet he might make it back in time for the second leg. And so it goes.

"We just keep going," said Preki, "and sometimes we are finding ways to play attractive soccer, and sometimes smart soccer."

For Preki and his players, winning soccer will do this time around.

Game 1
Saturday, 6 p.m. ET ( Fox Soccer Channel)
REAL SALT LAKE (10-10-10, 3rd West) vs. CHIVAS USA (12-11-7, 2nd West)

No comments yet.

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now



Recent Soccer America Daily
MLS: All the Decision Day talking points    
FC Dallas is two-thirds the way toward the first treble in MLS history ... Seattle made ...
USL Final: Allen hat trick powers NYRBII to big win    
Former Georgetown star Brandon Allen scored three goals and added an assist as New York Red ...
Video Pick: Klopp cracks up at mixup    
Liverpool's German coach Jurgen Klopp amused himself after misunderstanding a postgame question following his team's 2-1 ...
What They're Saying: Jose Mourinho    
"This gesture, at 1-0, OK. Not at 4-0. It is a humiliation." -- Jose Mourinho, caught ...
USWNT: Ohai does one (second) better than Williams    
The USA overcame an early deficit to hammer Switzerland, 5-1, before 23,400 fans at Minneapolis' U.S. ...
Crowd Count: MLS breaks attendance marks    
MLS broke its record for average attendance for the third year in a row, finishing with ...
MLS: Decision Day Results & Final Standings    
FC Dallas won the MLS Supporters' Shield when it tied the LA Galaxy, 0-0. Philadelphia clinched ...
What They're Saying: Georgia teen Reuben Nsemoh    
"My friends would always talk to me in Spanish and would teach me. I wasn't perfect, ...
U.S. Abroad: Pulisic rescues Borussia Dortmund    
Christian Pulisic came off the bench to set up one goal and score the tying goal ...
Lauren Holiday recovering after successful surgery    
Former U.S. national team star Lauren Holiday is recovering after having successful surgery at Duke University ...
>> Soccer America Daily Archives