RSL fired up to kick off season against Chicago

By By Tim Haslam and By Tim Haslam

By Tim Haslam

The season opener for Real Salt Lake on Saturday will give the team a chance to improve upon a poor opening-day record of 0-1-2.

Things looked bright during the first opener RSL ever played as they managed to tie the MetroStars, 0-0. The first game of the second season, RSL traveled to The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., where they lost 3-0 to their expansion buddies, Chivas USA.

Last season, things also looked bright at the start of the season for RSL. Teen sensation Freddy Adu had been signed in the offseason, and fans were excited. After 90 minutes of play had passed, RSL fans and players could almost taste a victory against FC Dallas as the team led 2-1. The fat lady hadn’t sung yet, though. Carlos Ruiz scored the game tying goal in the 94th minute, deflating RSL fans and players alike as the team had to settle on another tie.

This season, RSL will host the Chicago Fire in its opener, which are led by Cuauhtémoc Blanco. RSL fans and players alike remember the first trip Blanco made to the Wasatch Front after he nailed the game-winning goal from 25 yards out, which later went on to be the 2007 Sierra Mist Goal of the Year.

The Fire are coming off a season which ended in the Eastern Conference Championship after a 1-0 defeat at the hands of the New England Revolution. The Fire finished the regular season 10-10-10, scoring 31 goals and allowing 26 goals.

On June 3, 2006, RSL beat the Fire 3-1 before losing 2-1 on June 28, 2006. The first game in the 2007 season was at Chicago and it ended in a 0-0 draw. After joining the Fire midseason, Blanco scored his first Major League Soccer goal against RSL on Aug. 18 in a 2-0 Chicago win.

The Fire play a 3-5-2 formation with a Polish international player, Tomasz Frankowski, and Chris Rolfe up top. Rolfe has seen time with the U.S. National Team and is a dangerous striker. The midfield is anchored by Blanco and Justin Mapp. Mapp is another U.S. National Team player who is quick and plays hard. The defense is led by C.J. Brown, who was with the Fire in their inaugural season in 1998.

RSL will be anxious to see what its squad can do after an offseason full of trades and waivers. Perhaps the most interesting acquisition would be Scottish striker, Kenny Deuchar. Not only is Deuchar an established soccer player, he is also a practicing doctor.

RSL will host the Fire at Rice-Eccles Stadium on Saturday at 4 p.m.

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