Real Salt Lake notebook: Chivas' strategy pays off with 1-0 win

Published: Saturday, March 24 2012 11:19 p.m. MDT

Jamison Olave (right) of Real Salt Lake battles for control of the ball with Peter Vanegas of Chivas USA during their match up at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy Saturday, March 24, 2012.

Brian Nicholson, Deseret News

SANDY — Visiting teams rarely come to Rio Tinto Stadium and try and go toe to toe with Real Salt Lake. That certainly wasn't any different with Chivas USA on Saturday night.

Chivas USA coach Robin Fraser, a former RSL assistant, knows his team's 1-0 win wasn't pretty, but sitting back and playing counter-attacking soccer was the strategy his team needed to approach the game.

"At the end of the day, you're trying to get pressure where you can. They're very good with the ball, so you have to be smart in how you pressure. Obviously they're a very good passing team, their movement in the midfield is very good and their confidence and competence is extremely high, so I just think you have to be very aware of those things and obviously play accordingly," said Fraser.

He thought his team did that exceptionally well, and then they got the opportunistic, winning goal late in the match.

"The goal was a microcosm of the game; we just fought and fought and fought. I'm sure (Casey Townsend) could've quit on that play a couple of times, and he didn't, and fortunately for us he was able to get on the end of it," said Fraser.

ANOTHER RARITY: Real Salt Lake coach Jason Kreis found himself in another unique position on Saturday night. When he penciled in his starting lineup against Chivas USA, it marked the first time since 2009 that he used the same starting lineup for three consecutive games.

That last time he'd had that luxury was a three-game stretch from March 28 to April 11, 2009.

With Alvaro Saborio, Javier Morales and Nat Borchers likely all available to start next week at Portland, and midfielder Will Johnson nearing a return as well, it's hard to imagine the same 11 will be in the starting lineup at Portland next Saturday.

HIS OWN RARITY: Rauwshan McKenzie spent two years with Real Salt Lake before signing on as a free agent with Chivas USA this offseason.

He was in the starting lineup for the Goats on Saturday, which was just his second start at Rio Tinto Stadium since October of 2010. He only made three starts for RSL in all competitions last year, but only one at home — a U.S. Open Cup affair against the Wilmington Hammerheads.

"I was just excited to come back and play against guys that I played with. I knew it was going to be a great atmosphere, the fans here are great. I knew it was going to be a good game 'cause they're were coming in a hot streak," said McKenzie.

Getting minutes stuck behind Borchers and Jamison Olave was very difficult, but McKenzie said his confidence has really grown early this season with three straight starts.

"It was a good night for him. He made a lot of important plays at important times and I just thought he had a real solid game," said Fraser.

OUT OF THE LEAGUE: Marcos Mondaini, the infamous Chivas USA player who snapped Javier Morales' ankle last year, was nowhere to be found in Saturday's match at Rio Tinto Stadium. In fact, the Argentine native is no longer even in MLS.

Mondaini now plays for Emelec in the Ecuadoran first division.

The 27-year-old forward played 24 games for Chivas last year while on loan, but only scored three goals and wasn't necessarily a player coach Robin Fraser wanted to bring back in 2012.

email: jedward@desnews.com

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