Dallas Soccer: Nick Rimando

Five quick hits for Real Salt Lake game

May, 26, 2012
Now that the Brimstone Cup resides in Chicago for the first time in over a decade, FC Dallas sets its sights on ending an eight-game winless streak at a place it has never won before, Rio Tinto Stadium, on Saturday night against Real Salt Lake. Here are some points to ponder heading into this game:

A more level field? -- Salt Lake will be without Kyle Beckerman and Nick Rimando for this one as both starters are with the U.S. national team. But it’s not like FCD hasn’t faced RSL before without Beckerman. Yordany Alvarez will spell Beckerman, the man Dallas fans love to hate, in the central midfield while Kyle Reynish will be between the posts. However, Salt Lake was without both top striker Fabian Espindola and former MLS Defender of the Year Jamison Olave the last time these clubs played to a 1-1 draw in Frisco back in April. Still, not having Beckerman and Rimando is definitely big for FCD. In other RSL-related injury news, it looks like either defender Chris Wingert or midfielder Javier Morales won’t play. Morales will most likely be the one to return, leaving Jason Kreis’ back line without the services of Wingert.

Rio Tinto demons -- Sure, the sample size is a small one, but in regular-season matches, FC Dallas has not fared well at all at Rio Tinto Stadium since its opening, going 0-4-1 and scoring a grand total of three goals in those five matches. Of course, there is one draw among those five results and FCD did register another draw in Sandy during the 2010 playoffs, so this is far from an impossible task. But RSL’s home field advantage is one of the best in MLS and against a Dallas side that has struggled away from home to put it mildly this year means this is one streak that most likely lives on after this weekend.

Study in contrasts -- The biggest contrast in this game might be in the amount of rest each club has had. RSL hasn’t played in two weeks, last hitting the pitch on May 12 for a 1-0 win at Seattle. Since then, Dallas has already played three times and will add a fourth match in two weeks in Saturday’s tilt at Rio Tinto. Even without the services of Beckerman, RSL will be a much more crisp, well-oiled machine compared to a highly fatigued FCD side that comes into this game fresh off an emotional yet controversial 2-1 loss at Chicago on Wednesday, the first time the club had lost at Toyota Park. So the big question is how much does Dallas have left?

Light at the end -- The good news for FCD is that after Saturday’s match in the Beehive State, they won’t play again for two weeks as they get a two-week break of their own. That being said, one has to wonder what the mentality would be heading into this game. Does FCD look to end their winless streak and head into their layoff on a hugely positive note, possibly using a draw or win at RSL as a springboard to the rest of the year? Or do they see getting through the Salt Lake game as a mere necessity, a way to finally get some rest and even if their winless streak does indeed hit nine games, just get out of RSL and get some rest? Some might think the second question is more than a bit off base but it’s human nature when things aren’t going bad, especially in a team setting, that at least some members of the roster are going to see the glass half empty, just saying.

Shea’s last break -- Another good thing about Saturday’s match from a Dallas standpoint is that it will be the final game of Brek Shea’s three-game suspension. Then again, Shea wasn’t exactly at the top of his game when he was suspended. Maybe part of that was the turf toe he was battling and then again, maybe it was nothing more than a dip in form. But getting him back for the Houston game will be huge, especially since FCD has been missing something on the flanks lately. Bryan Leyva played well against Philadelphia but displayed some serious inconsistency in a forgettable performance at Chicago. Fabian Castillo didn’t even travel to the Windy City and it’s doubtful he plays on Saturday, which likely means Carlos Rodriguez or Scott Sealy gets the call on the flank likely alongside Leyva. No matter who starts at the two flank midfield spots on Saturday at Rio Tinto, it will illustrate one thing, how crucial Shea is to any success FCD is to have or not have in 2012.

Preview: FC Dallas-Real Salt Lake

May, 25, 2012
Real Salt Lake coach Jason Kreis will be missing a number of key players due to injuries and international call-ups.

His club is still in better shape than FC Dallas.

RSL will try to extend its home winning streak to five Saturday night when Dallas looks to end its eight-match winless stretch.

Playing for the first time since a 1-0 victory at Seattle on May 12, Real Salt Lake (8-3-2) will be without goalkeeper Nick Rimando, Alvaro Saborio, Will Johnson and Kyle Beckerman on Saturday as they're all on international duty. The club also could be missing defender Chris Wingert (hamstring) and midfielder Javier Morales (quadriceps).

Kyle Reynish is expected to make his second start of the season in goal for RSL, while midfielders Yordany Alvarez and Luis Gil and defender Chris Schuler could see plenty of minutes against Dallas.

"We want to try to rotate the team in a way that we keep a strong spine or core group of players," Kreis told RSL's official website. "We will certainly hope for the same throughout the rest of the season."

Real Salt Lake, one point back of MLS-leading San Jose, is hoping to maintain its edge at Rio Tinto Stadium, where it is 5-1-0. The club's last five-game home winning streak was May 1-June 9, 2010.

RSL is 4-0-1 at home against Dallas since Rio Tinto Stadium opened. Real Salt Lake holds a 12-4 scoring edge in those contests.

That does not bode well for an FC Dallas club that's 0-5-1 on the road in 2012. Dallas (3-7-4) joins Portland and Toronto as the only teams without a victory away from home.

Dallas doesn't have a win on any field since a 2-1 victory over expansion Montreal on April 14. A 2-1 loss in Chicago on Wednesday stretched the team's winless streak to eight, two shy of the franchise record.

"We need to get points any way we can, a win, a tie, whatever," rookie defender Matt Hedges told the Fire's official website after scoring his first MLS goal Wednesday.

If the club is going to pick up any points Saturday, it will have to do so without midfielder Brek Shea, who will complete his three-game suspension after kicking the ball at an assistant referee in a 2-1 loss to Columbus on May 12.

Shea scored on a penalty kick in first-half stoppage time in a 1-all draw against visiting RSL on April 25.

Dallas played that match without suspended striker Blas Perez, while Real Salt Lake did not have forward Fabian Espindola and defender Jamison Olave available after both were red-carded in a 3-1 loss at San Jose on April 21.

Real Salt Lake is on a season-best 3-0-2 run since ending a two-game losing streak in last month's match with Dallas.

RSL's last six-game point streak was a 3-0-4 stretch June 11-July 23.

These teams conclude the season series Aug. 18 in Utah.
FC Dallas head coach Schellas Hyndman

Opening thoughts…
“It was a difficult game for both teams. It seemed that the ball wasn’t really bouncing right for either team. I thought in the second half that we came out and played much better and created some problems. I thought they (Real Salt Lake) were getting tired and then the delay came and gave everyone a chance to rest and recover. We are disappointed with the tie and, as we always say to our players, there are three points there to be taken and we are always trying to get those three points. It’s been a while since we have gotten the strike force working together, but I thought the boys really did everything we did in practice this week. The early services came across on the ground and we missed a lot of those services in the first half in terms of quality.”

How did the rain delay affect you mentally and physically and what were you telling the team in the locker room during the break?
“The rain delay is tough on everyone and what we try to do is talk to them a bit individually, but we also realize that they need to find their own space and do whatever they are comfortable with. We have been through it before so that was a little bit of knowledge for us. I stayed completely away from the officials. Since we have been through it before, I knew there wouldn’t be a lot of things happening in the background knowing the league was going to ask us to finish playing the game once the weather breaks. So I stayed away and spent a good hour and a half cleaning my office (laughs) because I had the time to do it and I wanted to keep busy.”

What positives did you see offensively?
“Rimando made a great save, could be the save of the week that George (John) hit in the top corner. I think we were just a bit disconnected. We worked all week on coordinating our two strikers with our flank players and we worked all week on our early services, but we weren’t able to get on the end of them. Part of that is timing and part of it is that we don’t have the biggest guys up there.”

FC Dallas captain Daniel Hernandez

“I don’t think we can complain too much coming out of here with a point against a great team like Salt Lake. They always are a tough test for us, but I think the important thing is that defensively, we’re doing a great job. (We’ve gotten) a lot of shutouts the past couple of games and we still have a long ways to go. We still need to do a lot of work on our possession and work on our attacking a lot more and hopefully get a little more done. But, at the end of the day, you can’t be too upset with a tie against Salt Lake.”

On the two-hour weather delay…
“They were able to let us know ahead of time before we went out to get a brief warm-up here in the locker room before we went down. We went through this against L.A., so it wasn’t a big shock to us. Obviously, we would have liked to finish eight minutes of the game out before we had that long delay, but we had to do that against L.A. and it was just something we had to do. We were able to get loose and warm before we had to go back out.”

FC Dallas goalkeeper Kevin Hartman

Thoughts on where the team stands now…

“The fact that we got seven out of nine points at home is certainly something we are proud of. Even though we’re on the road Wednesday, we have a great opportunity against Seattle and then we head down to Houston to face our in-state rivals on Saturday.”

Thoughts on the success of the defense recently…

The success has come from hard work and their ability on how to morph into how to be successful. They have been winning more individual battles, which is making my job easier. Everything is more predictable. The shots that come from long distances, I expect to save.”

Real Salt Lake head coach Jason Kreis

Biggest challenge after a delay like that…

“To keep the guys in it, I remember at Chicago, we thought we locked down a good result, we had eight to 10 minutes left and we came out super flat. I was pleased the guys came out and were ready and gave a decent effort for the last 10 minutes.”

Thoughts and comments on what the team did during the delay…

“Yeah, you don’t know when the game is going to start. The guys kept the mood light, having the music on and joking around. It wasn’t like they were sitting there with their head in their hands.”

The play of Nick Rimando and the defense…

“The one he dug out in the left corner was phenomenal. It’s critical, when you’re not playing your best; you need two things, a resilient effort and guys in back to make plays. We’ve been getting a lot of the lately.”

Thoughts on the overall game…

“We didn’t come here and play the way that I wanted to play, it wasn’t pleasing to my eye but I'm thrilled about the result. We have to feel proud of what we did and say this is the first point we have ever picked up in Dallas.”

Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando

Mindset while waiting for the delay to end…

“We knew we had to be focused because the same situation happened with L.A. and they came out and lost. We were having a good time in here just staying as loose as we could.”

View on the game…

“The chances weren’t there and the goals weren’t there, but the commitment was there.”

What the team did in the locker room during the delay…

“Listen to music, juggled the soccer ball and just chatted. We just tried to stay loose. We got a result here, something we have not done here, so we are happy.”

Thoughts on coming and playing in Dallas…

“We have always been jinxed here. To get a result it’s a step, we have good feeling going into next week.”

Real Salt Lake midfielder Kyle Beckerman

Thoughts on the delay…

“It was the first time I had to do that. It is interesting because the body wants to shut down, but I had to stay focused. Our main focus was to come get a result, we wanted to get a win, to get a result was fine as well.”

Why is it tough to play Dallas in Dallas…

“When you are playing against Dallas, the humidity is a factor. It wasn’t that hot but it was humid, we were sweating more than at home, but humidity only gets to us because they are a good team, same with the altitude when we’re at home.”

Outlook on the result…

“This was a good result. We came down here and got another shutout. Hopefully some goals will start to go in for us.”