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Preview: D.C. United at Real Salt Lake

After dropped points at home, inter-conference clash carries extra weight

MLS MATCHDAY 27

D.C. United at Real Salt Lake

Saturday, September 1 - 9:00 PM ET
TV: CSN Washington channel listing

Few D.C. United players know the Black-and-Red’s weekendopponent better than Robbie Russell.

The veteran defender landed in D.C. last November after RealSalt Lake traded him in an attempt to clear space under the salary cap.  Russell’s four seasons with RSL –whichinclude an MLS championship run in 2009 – provided the defender with anintimate understanding of what awaits United when the two sides meet onSaturday. 

“They’ll high press the hell out of us the entire time andgo one-hundred miles per hour,” said Russell, who is back at practice aftermissing more than a month with a foot injury.  “They’ll use that altitude to their advantage so – even ifthey don’t get a goal in the first half – they push until they get one in the second.  That is usually their M.O. at home.”

As Russell states, much of Salt Lake’s recent success hasbeen built on the club’s form at Rio Tinto Stadium.  RSL are 9-4-1 this year at home, but have seen some of theirinvincibility as hosts wane. Consecutive home losses in June came as a shock to most pundits, and arecent defeat to Dallas furthered concerns that Jason Kreis’ team was sufferinga rare mid-summer slump.

Unfortunately for D.C., road results have proved elusivethis season.  The Black-and-Redhaven’t earned a point away from RFK since June 16, when they toppedPhiladelphia at PPL Park. 

“We’ve discussed it inside the locker room,” midfielderMarcelo Saragosa said Thursday in a Spanish language interview.  “I was talking to some of the otherguys and the attitude we have to take on the road has to be different.  It’s not something that is easy to do,but we must change our attitudes.”

In addition to a change in attitude, United must contain atalented Salt Lake midfield.  KyleBeckerman and Javier Morales are keeping forward Alvaro Saborio well fed.  The Costa Rican international is tiedfor second in MLS with 14 goals this year. 

If D.C. are to limit RSL’s attack, they’ll have to do so ontired legs.  Saturday’s contestwill be the fifth for Ben Olsen’s side in the last twelve days. 

“We kind of like it to be honest with you,” Brandon McDonaldsaid of the cramped schedule.  “Wedon’t have to sit around and wait weeks and weeks to play a game. When it’sback to back you can forget about things if they go bad.  The NY result is something we have toget over quick and facing RSL is the perfect challenge.”

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Real Salt Lake and D.C. United meet for the only time this season in a match that both clubs will consider vital for their postseason aspirations when the clubs face off Saturday evening at Rio Tinto Stadium. Real have gone four league games without a win after their scoreless draw at Philadelphia last weekend, now sitting in a tie for second place in the Western Conference. United have fallen into a tie for fourth in the East, after they were hauled back into a 2-2 draw at home by New York at midweek.

REFEREE: Silviu Petrescu. AR1 (bench): Darren Clark; AR2 (opposite): Marco Arruda; 4th: Paul Ward
MLS Career: 53 games; FC/gm: 27.5; Y/gm: 3.6; R: 8; pens: 7

INJURY REPORT

REAL SALT LAKE -- OUT: GK Lalo Fernandez (R wrist fracture); DF Kenny Mansally (L knee MCL sprain); QUESTIONABLE: DF Jamison Olave (L hamstring strain); PROBABLE: FW Fabian Espindola (R groin tightness); DF Chris Schuler (L foot bone bruise) … D.C. UNITED – OUT: MF Lance Rozeboom (L knee ACL tear); DF Daniel Woolard (concussion-like symptoms); PROBABLE: FW Maicon Santos (R toe soreness); DF Robbie Russell (L plantar fasciitis)

INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
SUSPENDED: none

WARNINGS

SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: RSL: Fabian Espindola, Jamison Olave, Alvaro Saborio, Chris Wingert … DC: Dwayne De Rosario
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: RSL: Will Johnson, Javier Morales … DC: Maicon Santos, Chris Pontius, Andy Najar, Dejan Jakovic, Lionard Pajoy, Bill Hamid

HEAD-TO-HEAD

  • ALL-TIME (14 meetings): Real 5 wins, 20 goals … United 5 wins, 23 goals … Ties 4
  • AT RSL (30 meetings): Real 5 wins, 15 goals … United 1 wins, 7 goals … Ties 1
  • LAST YEAR (MLS)
  • 6/18: RSL 1, DC 1 (Espindola 38 – Davies 85)
  • 9/24: DC 4, RSL 1 (Najar 13; De Rosario 22, 27, 31 – Saborio 86)
  • This is the only meeting between the clubs this season.
  • D.C. United defeated Real Salt Lake 4-1 last Sept. 24 at RFK Stadium, their first win against RSL since 2008. RSL had won two of the five matches in between, with three draws.
  • Dwayne De Rosario scored the earliest hat trick in MLS history in that meeting, all three of his goals coming before the 31st minute. De Rosario’s three goals in nine minutes is tied for the third-quickest hat trick in MLS history.
  • Since a 3-1 win against RSL in their first trip to Utah, United had lost on five consecutive trips to the Wasatch Front since 2006, outscored 13-3, before last year’s draw there. Real have never won at RFK Stadium, with five losses in eight trips in all competitions all-time.
  • Coaches record: Jason Kreis v DC: P10 W4 L3 D3 … Ben Olsen vs. RSL: P2 W1 L0 D1