Bridgeview, IL (SportsNetwork.com) - A pair of interconference rivals will clash on Saturday when Real Salt Lake travels to Toyota Park to battle the Chicago Fire.
RSL was in action against heated rivals Los Angeles Galaxy on Wednesday and sweated out a scoreless draw thanks to a stoppage time penalty kick save by goalkeeper Nick Rimando.
Both sides carved out dangerous chances over the course of the 90 minutes, but the biggest opportunity came in stoppage time when Omar Gonzalez was pulled down in the box and Los Angeles was given a penalty shot, but Rimando came up with a huge save to rescue a point for his side.
"To sum it up, it's improvement from last week," said RSL head coach Jeff Cassar. "I thought that our possession was good tonight. I felt that we made good choices on the ball under difficult circumstances. Overall, really pleased with tonight. Obviously, the aim is to get three points at home, and I thought we pushed, but came up just a little bit short on the points, but not on the performance."
"Try to save it. Try to stall a little bit. I tried to ask the referee what was going on, tried to figure out what the call was all about, then just focus on the ball and I was lucky to guess the right way," said Rimando. "The center ref had no idea. I kept on asking him, and he wouldn't say anything. He said it was a PK when I asked him."
Chicago, meanwhile, saw its three-game winning streak come to an end with a 1-0 loss to Sporting Kansas City last week at Sporting Park,
Sporting grabbed the only goal of the contest with 15 minutes to play when Graham Zusi got the scoring play started when he fed the ball out wide to the right to an over-lapping Jalil Anibaba. Anibaba struck an excellent cross into the area where Nagamura was free to nod it into the bottom right corner of the net, leaving Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson with little chance.
Chicago manager Frank Yallop sent forward Quincy Amarikwa into the fold late on in hopes of finding a late equalizer, but Fire forward David Accam was sent off in the final minute of normal time and the Sporting KC defense held out through four minutes of added time to take all three points.
"I think we created some good chances to score. It's frustrating when we don't really hit the target when we should in certain areas," said Yallop. "And then to go down a goal, obviously it was a great finish by (Paulo) Nagamura with a good ball in. But we did enough to at least get a goal today and it���s just disappointing to come away with nothing out of the game."
"The final ball and the final touch is what's missing with us right now. We've done pretty well at home, but away we don't finish off great moves. I think we're not really there to bury (the final ball).
"It's our Achilles heel right now. I think that's the thing we're just lacking at the moment; it's not from belief or not trying, just off a little bit right now. It's maybe a combination of confidence and maybe not making the right runs at the right time. But we had the opportunities to hit the target enough times in good areas, just to make the 'keeper work. I thought we didn't make the 'keeper work enough in two good chances, and that���s the game. You don't get many chances, probably six a team per game, and we had two really good ones from Guly and Quincy (Amarikwa), and we just didn't hit the target. We didn't score."