Real Salt Lake-Crew Preview

Real Salt Lake ranks as one of the poorer offensive teams in the

league. If Jean Alexandre’s most recent effort is any indication,

the club may have found a solution to its scoring woes.

Alexandre looks to build on his first career MLS points as

visiting Real Salt Lake tries to extend the Columbus Crew’s

season-worst winless streak to six games Wednesday night.

The 24-year-old Alexandre, a former midfielder, continues to

adapt to his new forward position but came up with a goal and an

assist in Saturday’s 2-0 victory over Vancouver. He keyed RSL

(6-2-2) ending a three-game winless stretch.

“He’s still learning a little bit about the proper runs to be

making to try and get in behind a little more often,” coach Jason

Kreis said. “He was more responsible with possession when it was

played to him … of course, the goal that unlocked things for us

was special; it was a little bit of an individual effort.”

Kreis’ club had scored a combined two goals in five games prior

to Saturday and is tied for 11th in the league with 1.20 goals per

match. However, the team seems to have a new offensive threat at

its disposal, even though Alexandre knows he still has lots of room

for improvement.

“I got to get used to making runs versus shuffling back and

forth for the ball like I’m playing center mid,” he said. “I’ve got

a lot of work to do.”

The club continues to play without midfielder Javier Morales,

who remains out indefinitely after breaking his left ankle in a 1-0

win over Chivas USA on May 7. Forward Fabian Espindola has stepped

up in his absence and tied for the team lead with his second goal

of the year Saturday.

“It was very gratifying to see,” Kreis said of Espindola’s

effort. “… He’s taking a few more risks than typical. I think

he’s doing that because he knows that someone has to make a

difference for us right now and he is trying to be that guy.”

Alexandre and Espindola will look to keep up their impressive

play against Columbus (3-3-6), which has gone 0-2-3 since defeating

the visiting Whitecaps 2-1 on April 30. However, the Crew are 3-0-3

at home.

In Columbus’ most recent game, defenseman Rich Balchan scored in

stoppage time Saturday to force a 1-1 draw at New York.

While the Crew avoided their third loss in four matches, they

probably would have walked away with three points if not for

forward Andres Mendoza’s inability to convert on two easy scoring

opportunities.

“I think we have to look at the positive,” coach Robert Warzycha

told the Crew’s official website. “He’s in the right place at the

right time. Obviously finishing is another thing, but at least he’s

getting chances.”

Columbus could find itself short-handed Wednesday. Emilio

Renteria, who leads the team with four goals, is expected to miss a

third straight match with a left quadriceps strain. Rookie forward

Justin Meram had to leave Monday’s practice (illness) and is

uncertain to play.

RSL will be without goalkeeper Nick Rimando (United States),

midfielder Will Johnson (Canada) and forwards Arturo Alvarez (El

Salvador) and Alvaro Saborio (Costa Rica), who are with their

respective national teams for the CONCACAF Gold Cup. The Crew will

be without midfielder Robbie Rogers (U.S.).