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Chivas USA-Real Salt Lake Preview
By ALAN FERGUSON
(AP) -- Despite injuries to some key players, Real Salt Lake is again off to a strong start. Chivas USA, meanwhile, had difficulty overcoming the loss of top forward Juan Pablo Angel during its most recent game.
With some of its players possibly returning, Salt Lake will try to remain undefeated when it hosts winless Chivas on Saturday night.
Nat Borchers (strained quad) and Will Johnson (strained groin) have missed the first two games of the season, while fellow starters Alvaro Saborio and Javier Morales were limited to playing in the second half of last Saturday's match against New York.
In spite of those absences, Real Salt Lake won 2-0 with Fabian Espindola and Luis Gil providing the scoring. For Espindola, it was his second goal in as many games and left him one shy of matching Robbie Findley's team record of 29.
He might have help in reaching that milestone with Saborio, Morales and Borchers set to return to the starting lineup soon. It also sets up for some difficult decisions for coach Jason Kreis after a 2-0-0 start.
"I think you can make a reasonable argument that we should stick with what's working," Kreis told his team's official website. "But you can certainly make reasonable arguments that you should give the players that have been here a long time a chance to get back in the lineup when healthy."
If RSL is healthier, it might only help the team continue its recent success against Chivas USA (0-2-0). Salt Lake has outscored Chivas 9-2 while going 4-0-1 over the last five matchups and 7-1 over the past four at home, winning three with one tie.
RSL is also seeking to move a step closer to matching last season's team-best 4-0-0 start. Chivas began that campaign 0-2-3 with losses in each of its first two games.
Angel's absence might make it difficult to avoid another defeat. The veteran striker is dealing with symptoms of a concussion and is considered doubtful for the trip to Utah.
Angel said he suffered his injury when he bumped heads with Portland defender Eric Brunner during a preseason match March 2. He played all 90 minutes during the season opener, a 1-0 home loss to Houston on March 11, before sitting out last Saturday's 1-0 defeat to visiting Vancouver.
"Juan's a great player and he's a big part of what we do," midfielder Nick LaBrocca said. "The worst thing to do would be to rush him back. But when he's ready, Juan's always in good shape and he'll be ready to jump in."
Chivas acquired the 36-year-old Angel from Los Angeles on Aug. 17, but he couldn't prevent the team from suffering its first season sweep to RSL. Saborio scored during a 1-0 road victory Aug. 27 and Johnson found the back of the net in a 1-0 win at Rio Tinto Stadium on May 7.
Updated March 23, 2012