MLS game preview

Real Salt Lake versus San Jose preview

May 29, 2009

Real Salt Lake hasn't scored in a road match yet, so it was more than happy with a scoreless draw last weekend. At this point, the San Jose Earthquakes would probably enjoy a draw of any kind.

Two of the worst teams in MLS meet Saturday night as Salt Lake tries to avoid a winless May when it visits the Earthquakes, who have lost five straight.

Real (3-5-2) is one of two teams in the league not to score on the road, but that lack of offense didn't prevent it from earning a 0-0 draw at D.C. United last Saturday. In its first four road games, RSL had been outscored 7-0.

"We've played four road games and lost every match," said coach Jason Kreis, whose team is 0-3-2 this month. "It's important that we (got) something tonight. It's a step in the right direction."

Striker Robbie Findley was the only player Kreis used up front against D.C. -- which entered last weekend as the highest-scoring team in MLS -- along with a five-player midfield. RSL has gone three straight matches without a goal.

"The goal scoring will come," Kreis said. "We are still creating the number of chances necessary in an away match."

The RSL players seem to have bought into the defensive strategy.

"We are a hard-working team with no superstars," midfielder Will Johnson said. "If we try and play like we are superstars, we end up losing games."

It's true that San Jose (1-7-2) is also lacking in superstars, particularly on the defensive end. The Earthquakes have allowed a league-high 21 goals, including 12 during their five-game slide.

They will be back home after a two-game road trip in which they lost 3-1 to Houston last Saturday and 2-1 to Columbus on Wednesday.

Ryan Johnson scored the lone goal for San Jose on Wednesday in the fifth minute, but the Earthquakes' defense predictably could not hold onto the lead. Johnson has scored in three straight matches and has five goals for the season.

"Ryan's done well," coach Frank Yallop said. "He leads the line well, he's tough, aggressive, good in the air. ... I wish all the players had his heart, because we'd be fine."

Yallop made four changes to his lineup after the loss to Houston, and feels that San Jose is not playing as badly as its results indicate.

"It's tough when you're trying to get some momentum and you get some away games that are tough to play at -- Houston and Columbus are two places that are tough to go to," Yallop said.

It won't help San Jose that they will have to face RSL first-string goalkeeper Nick Rimando, who returned to the lineup last week after missing three straight matches with a laceration on his right hand.

RSL won twice over San Jose in 2008 and drew in the third meeting.


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press