Chicago Fire 1 – 2 Real Salt Lake

Chicago vs RSL

Chicago Fire 1 – 2 Real Salt Lake

 

With a disciplined defense, and a midfield that was all about possession, Salt Lake managed to capitalize on just enough opportunities to win.

CHI RSL

May 9, 2015

 

Coming into this initial MLS game, the odds weren’t all in favor or RSL.  The Major League Soccer season seems to be a long one, and games seem to be scheduled all over the country, and at different times.  So RSL came tired from a mid-week game at home against the LA Galaxy, in which no goals were scored to either MLS side.  This summed up the teams winless 5-game streak.  Adding a significant delay in the Real Salt Lake’s incoming flights to Chicago due to the weather, which didn’t enable the players to rest and train enough, so you are looking at a pretty exhausted team.

Beyond the home advantage, Chicago Fire also came into this game with 3 home appearance winning streak.  Even statistics could not have given a clue on what is to come: this season Chicago has 4 losses and 3 wins against the West and East respectively.

Real Salt Lake’s Coach for the past 2 years, Jeff Cassar told his players before the match to “start the game with the basics, just create chances and hit the frame”.  And indeed Cassar was right, as the start of the game was not simple at all for RSL.

Chicago’s Coach Frank Yallop told his players that he wants to see more “intelligent pressure”.  The team seemed to have implemented and it sure showed on the field.  Sean Maloney tightly controls the Fire side and runs the ball very efficiently across the field, into RSL territory.  Rookie Matt Polster that is playing next to Maloney seems to find his form, and although creating too many fouls, helps Chicago move the ball and be dynamic on the ball.

It started with Real Salt Lake making great and well-organized efforts to block Chicago’s repeating attacks.  RSL’s defence was tight, organized and to me looked very impressive.  On the attacking side however, Salt Lake didn’t seem to push too much.

Things did change pretty early in the game, when RSL’s Jordan Allen comes in from the left and kicks to the width of the filed precisely to Alvaro Saborio – scoring a goal and putting Real Salt Lake on a 1-0 lead (13’).

Chicago did try to claw back, with now-Chicago’s Lovel Palmer working hard, creating opportunities and taking shots against his former RSL team.  Sean Maloney kept trying to pass the ball around to Quincy Amarikwa who did find good positions up front, but was quickly blocked by Real Salt Lake’s tight and organized defence.  Harrison Shipp did not seem to be able to go down fast enough, and overall Chicago Fire missed suspended David Accam’s speed and dominance on the field.

Not far into the second half, things got from bad to worse for Chicago Fire, with Jordan Allen this time finding Luke Mullholland, who scores from the right (56’).  Salt Lake’s Kyle Beckerman, probably the best Major league Soccer midfielder when it comes to ball position, plays a big part in Real’s appearance in this game.

Real salt Lake could have walked away with a clean sheet as well as a victory, if it wasn’t for a sloppy challenge by RSL’s Elias Vasquez on Maloney inside the box, giving Chicago a penalty kick that was converted by Jeff Larentowitz into a goal for the Fires (88’).