MLS

Real Salt Lake-Impact Preview

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Real Salt Lake finds itself on the verge of its first three-game winning streak thanks in large part to goalkeeper Nick Rimando.

Picking up three more points, however, could prove difficult at Stade Saputo, where the Montreal Impact have yet to lose.

RSL tries to keep things going against the Impact, who don't carry much momentum into Saturday's showdown.

After making three saves to record his third clean sheet in a 2-0 win over Vancouver last Saturday, Rimando came up big again Wednesday in a 2-1 victory at New England. The 14-year veteran extended his MLS record for penalty-kick saves to 19, stopping Saer Sene's attempt in the second minute of stoppage time to preserve the win.

"I think there are just certain individuals out there that perform at the biggest moments and when they're called upon and when everybody is relying upon them," said coach Jason Kreis, whose club has won three of four. "Nick stayed in there and made a big, big save for us."

Rimando, who's allowed fewer than two goals in all but one of his 10 games, leads the league with an 81.4 save percentage. Montreal's Troy Perkins isn't far behind at 78.6.

"Nick is, I think, probably playing the best that I've ever seen him play," Kreis said. "That says a lot for his age and where he's at in his career. He's looking incredibly confident, incredibly positive and he's been a huge contributor to every win we've had."

Rimando made two saves as RSL (5-4-2) pulled out a 1-0 home win over the Impact (5-2-2) in the teams' only matchup last season. A repeat performance, though, could be hard to come by in Montreal.

The Impact have outscored opponents 6-2 in opening 3-0-1 on their own field. They're surely looking forward to getting back home after earning one point over a two-game road stretch.

Montreal played to a 2-all draw versus San Jose last Saturday before falling 2-1 to New York on Wednesday. After coming in as a second-half substitute, star forward Marco Di Vaio cut the lead in half with his team-leading fifth goal in extra time, then nearly tied the score a minute later but saw his shot bounce off both goalposts.

"Marco can't play (the whole game) today and Saturday," coach Marco Schallibaum said. "He can't, so I went this way. Other players did a very, very good job today. Of course, when Marco comes on, he brings something powerful."

The Impact had allowed five goals over their first seven contests before scuffling in their last two.

"It's just playing on the road, two good teams, goals happen," midfielder Justin Mapp said. "It's a team effort, our defense has been very good this year. It's part of football, sometimes you got to tip your hat to the other team but hopefully we'll rebound on Saturday."

Perkins, acquired from Portland in August, has allowed 10 goals in going 1-3-2 in his last six matchups versus RSL.



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