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Real Salt Lake-Fire Preview
By KATE HEDLIN
(AP) -- Thanks largely to success at home, Real Salt Lake is tied for first place in the Western Conference. That status may be tested as the club plays twice on the road this week, including at least once without its starting goalkeeper.
Nick Rimando will be unavailable when Salt Lake visits the Chicago Fire on Wednesday night.
RSL (7-3-1) will be seeking a third straight win after consecutive home victories over Toronto and New England, which improved the team to 5-1-0 on its own pitch.
After giving up an early goal to the Revolution on Saturday, Salt Lake rallied and won 2-1 behind two goals from Alvaro Saborio and six saves by Rimando.
"We don't stop believing," midfielder Kyle Beckerman said. "Tonight we went down a goal and there wasn't any doubt in our mind that we were going to win this game."
The win pulled RSL even with San Jose atop the West, but it was not without a cost. Rimando suffered a shoulder injury and did not travel to Chicago, and midfielder Will Johnson was sent off for a red card, which carries a one-game suspension to be served Wednesday.
Rimando has started all 11 games this season for RSL and leads MLS with 36 saves. He said on his Twitter page that the move is precautionary and he is optimistic he will be able to return Saturday at Seattle.
Kyle Reynish is expected to start in Rimando's place. Reynish, in his fourth MLS season, has two shutouts in four career starts, but has not appeared in an MLS game since April 9, 2011.
Salt Lake will try to provide him with some support, something lacking in recent road games. The club has scored two goals and given up five while going 0-2-1 in its last three away from home.
The hectic schedule doesn't figure to help, with RSL playing for the second time in five days and another match looming Saturday.
"It doesn't really let up on us this year," Beckerman said. "A lot of Saturday-Wednesday-Saturday games, so we just need to take care of our bodies, get in the cold tub and focus on the next one."
While Salt Lake will have played more matches than any other MLS team after Wednesday, only Houston has played fewer times than Chicago, although the light schedule hasn't seemed to help.
The Fire (3-2-2) will try to win back-to-back games for the first time this season following Friday's 2-1 victory at Chivas USA.
Marco Pappa scored the winning goal in stoppage time after Austin Berry tied it in the 25th minute. Berry was making his MLS debut while starting for Jalil Anibaba, who was serving a one-game suspension along with coach Frank Klopas for their roles in an altercation between Chicago and Seattle the previous week.
"It's a huge win for us, now we go back home for a homestand the next couple of games," said Klopas, who watched the game from a suite.
Chicago, which hosts Sporting Kansas City on Saturday, is 1-1-1 at home.
Only two total goals have been scored in the last six matchups between Chicago and Salt Lake at the Toyota Center, but Pappa scored three times in the most recent meeting overall, a 3-0 win for the Fire in Utah on Sept. 28.
Updated May 8, 2012