RSL: Looking to get that warm, fuzzy feeling from Chivas

By Chris Kamrani

Twenty-eight seconds.

That’s the amount of time it took for Chivas USA to start the obliteration of Real Salt Lake in their first away match last year.

Now, RSL (0-0-1) look to finally conquer their expansion brother-in-arms Chivas (0-0-1). The latter has been the better of the two teams since its induction into the MLS four seasons ago.

In last years 4-0 drubbing, then unknown Cuban-refugee forward Maykel Galindo scored the first goal 28 seconds into the match, followed by another at the nine-minute mark.

Galindo emerged as one of the leagues top-flight forwards and is paired up front with MLS legend Ante Razov. Razov joined the league’s 100-goal club against RSL during that same game last season.

After last week’s disappointing tie with the Chicago Fire, Real Salt Lake are looking to rebound in a big way at a place where, historically, they have struggled to win, let alone show up.

Last year RSL dropped all three matches to Chivas, which featured two games in Carson, Calif., and one at Rice-Eccles Stadium.

Last week’s match against Chicago and Mexican-phenom Cuauhtémoc Blanco showed flashes of the 180-degree spin from last year’s team. RSL controlled as top-tier teams do. They corralled the Fire attack, and keeper Nick Rimando was virtually untested.

Then came the dreaded stoppage time.

After a series of poor defensive markings and clears, the ball was perfectly centered for “Temo,” and he did not disappoint the large Mexican constituency that was there to view his flair.

The ball was struck perfectly with the inside of the left foot, curling toward the far post, leaving Rimando helpless, and RSL had to settle for a second consecutive season-opening tie.

Saturday’s match against Chivas will prove to be a major stepping stone in RSL’s march toward respectability and, more importantly, a winning record and mentality.

“RSL have added real depth to their squad and showed a dogged fighting spirit that no team will relish playing against,” said Keith Costigan of FOXSoccer.com.

The problem for the team is, it must be prepared to exorcise its demons in Southern California — and fast.

Chivas were the surprise of the league last year with the perfect mixture of flair and defense. Plus, they own arguably the league’s best keeper — Brad Guzan.

Real Salt Lake have not beat Chivas since Aug. 6, 2005. They are also down in the win-loss column, 6-2, which also features three ties.

Real will most likely see a familiar face on the pitch Saturday. Midfielder/forward Atiba Harris, who was traded to Chivas during the off-season, started the opener for his new team and will look for some success against the team that brought him into the league. Also, former RSL forward Alecko Eskandarian, who was traded last year for goal-scorer Jeff Cunningham, was shipped to Chivas during the off-season. However, “Esky” is ruled out for the match with a left groin strain.

RSL will have to control the middle with emphasis and look to stop the exciting Chivas forward tandem of Galindo and Razov with stellar play from their starting back-four.

The game kicks off at 8:30 p.m. MDT time and will be shown on HDNet. There is a RSL viewing party at newly-partnered Jersey’s Sports Grill at 677 S. 200 West.

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