Match Preview: Real Salt Lake vs. FC Dallas

FCD looks to end winless streak against undefeated RSL

REAL SALT LAKE vs FC DALLAS
RIO TINTO STADIUM, Sandy, Utah
May 24, 2014 (WEEK 12, MLS Game #111)
8:30 p.m. CT (KTVA-ABC; TWCSN-TX)

Real Salt Lake will be looking to match Major League Soccer history on Saturday evening when they play host to FC Dallas at Rio Tinto Stadium. RSL has opened the season with 11 games without loss – one shy of the all-time league record – after their 2-1 win against the Colorado Rapids at home last weekend. FC Dallas saw their winless streak extended to six games at midweek, starting their road trip with a 2-1 loss at the LA Galaxy.

REFEREE: Hilario Grajeda. AR1 (bench): Corey Rockwell; AR2 (opposite): Baboucarr Jallow; 4th: Armando Villarreal
MLS Career: 104 games; FC/gm: 24.3; Y/gm: 3.4; R: 18; pens: 16

SUSPENDED: none
WARNINGS:
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: none
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: RSL: Alvaro Saborio, Chris Schuler, Javier Morales … DAL: Fabian Castillo, Michel, Je-Vaughn Watson
DISABLED LIST: none
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: RSL: Kyle Beckerman, Nick Rimando (USA); Alvaro Saborio (CRC)

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (26 meetings): Real 9 wins, 35 goals … FC Dallas 13 wins, 38 goals … Ties 4
AT SALT LAKE (14 meetings): Real 8 wins, 27 goals … FC Dallas 4 wins, 16 goals … Ties 2
RETURN MATCHES: 8/22: FC Dallas vs. Real Salt Lake, 8 p.m. CT; 9/6: Real Salt Lake vs. FC Dallas, 8 p.m. MT

LAST YEAR (MLS):
3/23: DAL 2, RSL 0 (Castillo 71; Jackson 81)
7/13: DAL 0, RSL 3 (Morales 39; Grabavoy 79; Garcia 90)
10/5: RSL 1, DAL 1 (Cooper 72 – Saborio 60)

  • FC Dallas have come away with points on each of their last two games vs. Real at Rio Tinto Stadium, including a 1-1 draw last Oct. 5 in the only meeting in Utah.
  • After 21 matches in the state of Texas, against both Houston and Dallas, going 0-18-3, Real won 3-0 last July 13 at Toyota Stadium, their first win ever in the Lone Star State. RSL is now 1-9-2 at FC Dallas all-time in league games between the clubs; FCD has also won a game in the MLS Cup Playoffs (in 2010) and a U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal (in 2011).
  • Coaches record: Oscar Pareja vs. RSL: P6 W2 L2 T2 … Jeff Cassar vs. DAL: first game

REAL SALT LAKE
Real Salt Lake extended their undefeated start to the campaign, knocking off Rocky Mountain Cup rivals Colorado Rapids 2-1 on Saturday evening at Rio Tinto Stadium. RSL are in second place in the Western Conference with 23 points from 11 matches.

LAST MATCH

  • Real took the lead in the 23rd minute, following a nice passing sequence from right to left. Tony Beltran sent a nice pass to Devon Sandoval, who gave a nice pass to Javier Morales, who set Joao Plata up beautifully for a left-footed drive from the left side of the box, back across the goal and inside the right post.
  • Five minutes into the second half, RSL doubled the lead. Sandoval was taken down by Rapids goalkeeper Clint Irwin and referee Mark Geiger pointed to the spot, and Morales stepped up and put it in the upper right corner of the goal.
  • There was another late answer from the Rapids, when in the 83rd minute, center back Drew Moor cut the lead in half with a header off Dillon Serna's free kick.
  • RSL head coach Jeff Cassar made four changes to the team that strolled to a 5-2 win against the Houston Dynamo at BBVA Compass Stadium. Jeff Attinella, Cole Grossman and Devon Sandoval came into the team with Nick Rimando, Kyle Beckerman and Alvaro Saborio on international duty, and Chris Schuler came back into central defense in place of Aaron Maund.
  • REAL SALT LAKE (4-3-1-2): Jeff Attinella - Tony Beltran, Chris Schuler, Nat Borchers, Chris Wingert - Ned Grabavoy, Cole Grossman, Luke Mulholland (Sebastian Velasquez 90) - Javier Morales (John Stertzer 90) - Joao Plata (Luis Gil 89), Devon Sandoval.

TEAM NEWS

  • Real Salt Lake extended their season-opening undefeated streak to 11 games (6-0-5) – now one shy of the all-time MLS record. The Los Angeles Galaxy opened their inaugural season – and the first MLS season – with a 12-0 record (2 by shootout); the Galaxy also started the 2010 season with 12 games without defeat (10-0-2).
  • “I think usually we always have a difficult stretch to start the season. We’re usually asked to play four of five on the road to start or six of eight on the road to start because of the weather here. Usually, we’re going into some tough places and playing against two home-openers on the road,” said midfielder Ned Grabavoy. “I think that we’re starting to see ourselves a little bit on the road ñ being able to play more of our game than maybe we have in the past. There are still plenty of things to work on, especially dealing with a lead – that’s probably the No. 1 thing for us. But at the same time we’ve been creating a ton of chances. We’ve been really good in front of goal for the most part with those chances.”
  • Joao Plata scored his third goal in the last four matches, and now has six on the season, tied for fifth in the MLS Golden Boot standings. He has four goals and an assist in the last four games.
  • Javier Morales scored his fourth goal of the season, after netting his first career hat trick the week prior at Houston. Morales has four goals and three assists over the last three games.
  • “He’s extremely important for us. He’s our attacking midfielder, he’s the one we try to find with the ball early, turn, and create, and I thought he did a fantastic job of finding gaps between their two defensive midfielders,” said Cassar. “Our players did a good job of finding him in those areas.”
  • With Nick Rimando having left to join the US national team in preparation for the FIFA World Cup, Jeff Attinella made his third start in goal. It was his first victory while between the posts – he had played in back-to-back draws with Sporting KC (0-0) and Philadelphia (2-2) on April 5-12.
  • “I thought he was fantastic. I thought he came up with several big saves that kept us in the game. I thought he commanded his box very well. He had to deal with a lot of service,” said Cassar. “Can it get a little better dealing with some of that service? Yes. But we’ll work on that. But he was fantastic. You could see the confidence in his back line with him and that means the world.”
  • Devon Sandoval made his first start of the season, coming into the attack with Alvaro Saborio having joined Costa Rica for preparations for the FIFA World Cup.
  • Cole Grossman also made his first start of the season with Kyle Beckerman away with the U.S. national team.
  • “I thought Cole Grossman had a really mature performance there and sat in and held down the fort, and didn’t get caught out of position too much,” said Cassar. “With Devon [Sandoval] his work rate was off the chart. His ability to hold up the ball and bring more of our midfield into the attack was fantastic and just to keep grinding and battling for 90 minutes really helped us out.”
  • Real did allow a goal from the 76th minute onward for a fifth time this season – tied for fifth-most in MLS this season. RSL has allowed 13 goals for the season, the fourth-best defensive record in the league.
  • “You don't want to give up any late goals,” said Attinella. “But we'll definitely take the three points. And take this like a baby step. We're only 11 games in, so we have a lot to learn. Some games could have gone our way; some games haven't gone our way.”

FC DALLAS
FC Dallas began their road swing by seeing their winless streak extended to six games, falling 2-1 to the LA Galaxy on Wednesday evening at StubHub Center. FC Dallas sit in third place in the Western Conference with 17 points from 13 games.

LAST MATCH

  • The Galaxy opened the scoring in the 24th minute. Following a nifty build-up, a long, low ball from Gyasi Zardes on the left split three defenders and found Robbie Keane just beyond the FCD box. He quickly beat one defender on the dribble, then cut inside between two more before rocketing a shot to the upper-left corner.
  • The lead was doubled just before the halftime break when Zardes deposited a header over FCD goalkeeper Raul Fernandez, finding space among three defenders at the top of the six-yard box to easily nod home a Juninho chip.
  • FC Dallas pulled a goal back in the 65th minute when Tesho Akindele slipped behind the LA backline to finish a diagonal ball from Jair Benitez, slotting home from about the penalty spot.
  • FCD head coach Oscar Pareja made three changes to the team that came back for a 1-1 draw with Chivas USA at Toyota Stadium. Andrew Jacobson, Danny Garcia and Tesho Akindele all came into the team, in place of Michel, Adam Moffat and Blas Perez.
  • FC DALLAS (4-2-3-1): Raul Fernandez - Zach Loyd, Stephen Keel, Matt Hedges, Jair Benitez - Andrew Jacobson (Adam Moffat 26), Victor Ulloa - Je-Vaughn Watson, Danny Garcia (Andres Escobar 46), Fabian Castillo - Tesho Akindele (Blas Perez 81).

TEAM NEWS

  • FC Dallas saw their winless streak extended to six games, with five losses in that time – four of those coming on the road. They return home for two games after the trip to Real Salt Lake.
  • “Like any other defeat, walking off without points is frustrating, but we are moving forward,” said FCD head coach Oscar Pareja. “The reaction that this team had, and the quality of the players giving all they had, always having the initiative. The way we played can definitely help with feeling encouraged, it doesn't give us points, but it is encouraging.”
  • Rookie Tesho Akindele made his second start in the last three matches and scored his first professional goal.
  • “Since we were away, it was so quiet after I scored, I thought for sure I was offside. I checked like five times with the assistant ref just to make sure he didn't raise his flag,” Akindele said. “It is just pure happiness as a striker when you score a goal, that is what I am paid for, that is why I am here, so to score a goal makes me really happy.”
  • After playing on the left side of midfield vs. Chivas USA and recording an assist, Jair Benitez moved back to the left of the back four and recorded another assist, his third on the season.
  • There was yet another blow for FC Dallas as Andrew Jacobson was forced off after just 26 minutes. Jacobson was making his first start since May 7.
  • Michel did not make the trip after coming off the field after 69 minutes vs. Chivas USA. Michel has scored five goals to lead FCD this season. “Without Michel, you might lose some power in the service, but you might get something else with another player,” said Pareja.
  • Homegrown Player Danny Garcia made his fourth start in the last five matches, after not featuring at all vs. Chivas, but came off at halftime in place of Andres Escobar.
  • “Our second half was much better. I think we kept the ball better, we attacked better, we put a lot more pressure on them than we did in the first half and I think it showed,” said defender Matt Hedges. “Night and day from the first half.”