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

MOST READ
TAGS:  mls

MOST COMMENTED

[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.

MLS WESTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINAL
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




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Soccer America Daily
What They're Saying: Sergio Ramos    
"He has brought happiness, hope, humility and hard work." -- Sergio Ramos on Frenchman Zinedine Zidane, ...
Video Pick: David Villa's costly slip-up skies PK    
Spaniard David Villa, New York City FC's top player, with 27 goals and eight assists, since ...
Crowd Count: USA draws lowest warmup crowds    
Five Copa Centenario warmup games have been played so far in the United States this week, ...
Eight Americans start in Mexico Sub-20 final    
Tijuana started seven Americans, including U.S. international Paul Arriola, and Queretaro started one, Josue Soto, formerly ...
What They're Saying: Sports marketing expert Hector Lopez Zatarain    
"Organized crime usually respects sports figures and singing stars and leaves them alone. Here in Mexico, ...
Video Pick: Keeper blooper dooms Galaxy    
If Los Angeles Galaxy goalkeeper Brian Rowe hadn't lifted his hands to stop Didier Drogba's 30-yard ...
USA-Bolivia: Klinsmann's men enter Copa on a roll    
By beating Bolivia, 4-0, in Kansas City on Saturday, the USA enters the Copa America Centenario ...
MLS Week 13: Results & Standings    
Weekend MLS action featured a pair of hat tricks by Bradley Wright-Phillips (in a league record ...
USA-Bolivia International Friendly Player Ratings    
A feeble display by Bolivia confirmed its placing among the Conmebol doormats, yet several Americans strengthened ...
Messi Update: Argentine star moving uncomfortably but no broken bones    
Lionel Messi injured his back and ribs in a Copa Centenario warmup game for Argentina against ...
>> Soccer America Daily Archives