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Real Salt Lake not sorry for good fortune vs. L.A.

Missed opportunities by Los Angeles benefit RSL

Published: Monday, May 16 2005 12:00 a.m. MDT

During the seventh-month stretch that is the Major League Soccer season, there isn't a single player or coach who will ever apologize for a positive result, no matter how lucky it might have been. After all, months later, the only thing that matters is the points in the standings.

That's why Real Salt Lake's players walked out of Rice-Eccles Stadium with a newfound hop in their step following Saturday's 2-1 victory over the L.A. Galaxy.

Sure Real was a little fortunate to remain unbeaten (2-0-1) at home. After all, the Galaxy could've easily been ahead three or four goals at halftime with better finishing, but instead only clung to a 1-0 lead.

Even though RSL was a little lucky in the first half, give the team credit, it ultimately capitalized on the many get-out-of-jail-free cards the Galaxy kept dishing out.

The players and coaches know, however, that luck has no allegiances. Real's passing in the midfield must get better, otherwise the team will continue putting itself in tough situations, and unlike the Galaxy on Saturday, most teams will bury those charity scoring opportunities.

"I know we're going to make mistakes, and I told them at halftime," said Real coach John Ellinger. "It's just a matter of how many you make, where you make them and what point of the game you make them. That's going to determine how successful we are."

A giveaway led to Los Angeles' 39th minute goal. Giveaways also contributed to several Galaxy scoring chances, including an open-net miss by Peter Vagenas inside the six-yard box, and then a Guillermo Ramirez shot that trickled through RSL's keeper and just past the post.

On most nights, those shots go in, and the Galaxy enjoy a 3-0 lead at the half.

Those giveaways are the reason Ellinger believes his team slips into the first-half funk fans have somewhat grown accustomed to.

"There's this moment when giveaways lead to shots, and then you get this feeling of doom, that something bad is going to happen because it happened before," said Ellinger. "And we need to get through that phase."

GETTING HELP: A player who's no stranger to MLS could be donning a Real jersey as soon as this Wednesday.

Ellinger confirmed that Dante Washington, a nine-year veteran who was released by the Columbus Crew two weeks ago, will be at the team's training session today on a trialist basis. During his MLS career, Washington has racked up 52 goals and 29 assists, while starting 111 games.

The timing might be perfect for Salt Lake.

As Real's lone striker in its 4-5-1 formation, Jason Kreis picked up a yellow card in his third consecutive game Saturday, and as a result is suspended for Wednesday's home game against Chivas USA.

Assuming Ellinger wants to stick with the 4-5-1 formation without Kreis, his options are quite limited. Only Jordan Cila seems capable of stepping into that lone forward role, and holding the ball under pressure long enough until the attack is supported.

Cila, however, has played just seven minutes in seven games, so it seems unlikely he'll start.

Ellinger could always revert back to the 4-4-2 formation the team used in its first four games, or he could stick with the 4-5-1 and start Washington.

"Crazier things have happened in this league, trust me," said Ellinger.

It's still a long shot to think Washington could even play this week. With a game on Wednesday, the team would have to release a player in the next couple of days to create a roster spot to sign Washington.

IN SEARCH OF A KEEPER: Salt Lake third-string goalkeeper Noah Palmer will have season-ending surgery on his shoulder this week. As a result, the team is scouring the country to find a quality replacement.

With only one active keeper this week, Salt Lake utilized the league's extreme hardship rule to bring in Clint Baumstark for the weekend. After backing up Nolly on Saturday, Baumstark played the full 90 minutes in the reserve game Sunday.

Baumstark is under contract with MLS, and is at the disposal of any team in the league in a hardship situation.


E-mail: jedward@desnews.com

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