Fire-Real Salt Lake Preview
Real Salt Lake posted its highest goal total of the season against the Western Conference's worst club last weekend.
Coach Jason Kreis' team would appear to have another favorable matchup in store.
Salt Lake aims for a fourth win in five games when it hosts the woeful Chicago Fire, who try to avoid losing four straight for the first time in six seasons Saturday night.
While RSL (6-5-2) followed wins over Vancouver and New England with a 3-2 loss at Montreal on May 11, the team bounced back Sunday with an easy 4-1 victory over Chivas USA. Midfielder Ned Grabavoy scored his first two goals, and Nick Rimando made four saves as RSL completed a stretch of three consecutive road games.
"Being away from home, especially, we don't have many opportunities to put a few away," said forward Robbie Findley, who also scored. "It's always important. It does give us confidence but now we are focused in this week, getting back home and doing the same thing."
RSL plays the first of a season-high four straight home games in MLS play Saturday.
"This should be our time," Kreis said. "It starts with what we did (Sunday) and we look to roll forward with positive momentum for four home games in a row. We need to get on a roll here and get things going."
RSL is surely feeling good about its chances against the Fire (2-7-1). Tied for eighth in the East with just seven points, Chicago is averaging 0.60 goals per game to rank second-to-last in the league.
The Fire haven't scored during their current 0-3-0 skid, and they haven't lost four consecutive league matches since May 6-24, 2007. Coming off back-to-back 1-0 losses to Philadelphia, Chicago dropped to 0-4-1 on the road with last Saturday's defeat.
"It is just one of those periods of time where everyone needs to stick together and keep working hard and I think it will come," goalkeeper Sean Johnson said. "We got a great group of guys, we just got to do a little bit extra and that starts with me, with our back line going forward, everybody on the field has got to step up to another level. I think we are capable of doing that and it is something that we need to do (this) week."
While Chicago is 6-3-7 all-time versus Salt Lake, it's gone 1-2-4 over the last seven meetings.
"They're a good team," Fire assistant coach Mike Matkovich said of RSL. "For us, it will be a game where we have to keep our discipline, and when we get our chances - (we have to) take care of them. We may not get many, we have to be smart in front of the goal and hopefully we put some away."
The Fire could get a boost from defender Bakary Soumare, who was reacquired from Philadelphia on Thursday for a second-round pick in the 2014 SuperDraft and allocation money.
This is Soumare's second stint with the Fire, who drafted him No. 2 overall in 2007. He's expected to be available Saturday.