Real Salt Lake-Fire Preview

Real Salt Lake hasn’t lost since April or conceded a goal since

May, but most of the club’s recent surge has come in the comfort of

Rio Tinto Stadium.

RSL has some pleasant memories at Toyota Park, too.

The reigning MLS champion visits Bridgeview, Ill., on Thursday

night to face the Chicago Fire for the first time since its victory

in last year’s Eastern Conference final.

RSL (8-3-3) may be the league’s hottest team, going 7-0-2 since

its last defeat – 1-0 at Columbus on April 24. The club has held

its last four opponents without a goal since beating Kansas City

4-1 on May 29.

A 5-0 win over New England on Friday night was perhaps RSL’s

most dominating performance of the season. The team got two goals

from Alvaro Saborio and a second-half strike from Robbie Findley,

who made his return after playing for the United States at the

World Cup.

It was the second goal of 2010 for Findley, who scored 12 last

year but has dealt with a groin injury as well as the trip to South

Africa this season.

“If you talk to him he’s probably a little upset that he didn’t

score more,” coach Jason Kreis said. “I am very pleased that he did

get that one, and I am very pleased with the work he put in.

Hopefully he’ll be fresh and ready for Thursday night.”

The victory over the Revolution extended RSL’s home unbeaten

streak to 18 games, but the club is 2-3-1 on the road.

A trip to Illinois didn’t stop the team’s impressive postseason

run last fall. Although RSL plays in the Western Conference, it was

shifted to the East for the playoffs and won the conference title

in penalty kicks, beating the Fire after 120 scoreless minutes at

Toyota Park on Nov. 14.

RSL’s Nick Rimando, the eventual MLS Cup MVP, stopped three

shots in the shootout after making six saves through regulation and

extra time.

Rimando picked up his 100th MLS win last weekend, extending his

shutout streak to a franchise-record 408 minutes.

“We’re an offensive team – we’ve scored a lot of goals this

season – but at the same time we’re not letting anything in,”

Rimando said. “Our whole team goes forward and our whole team comes

back, and that’s what makes it so easy for me.”

Chicago (4-4-5) didn’t have an easy time Saturday at

East-leading Columbus, losing 2-1 to snap a five-match unbeaten

streak. The Fire’s only offense came on an own goal by Crew

defender Frankie Hejduk.

The Fire have gone 2-0-3 at Toyota Park since losing 2-1 to San

Jose in their home opener.

RSL has never won at Chicago in the regular season, going

0-3-2.