CARSON, Calif. — Real Salt Lake center backs Nat Borchers and Jamison Olave did everything physically possible to get themselves ready for Sunday night's Western Conference final against the Los Angeles Galaxy.
After a pregame fitness test at the Home Depot Center, Olave felt slightly better and got the starting nod along with Chris Schuler in the center of RSL's defense.
"They were both, I would say equally as close. Nat felt a little more hesitant of playing that's why we chose to go with Olave. The plan was to push Jamison as long as we could. His big question mark was how long his muscle would last before it just fatigued beyond the point of helping the group," said RSL coach Jason Kreis.
Olave lasted much longer than Kreis ever expected, going 82 minutes before being replaced by Tony Beltran.
"I think he battled. I think it says a lot about Jamison Olave," said Kreis.
Despite not starting, Borchers stayed loose on the sideline for much of the match and said he was ready to play if Olave needed a replacement. At the end of the day, he just didn't feel good enough to start.
"I just didn't feel percentage wise I was quite there. I had trouble pushing off on my leg and my knee before the game started, and Jamison felt good enough to go. We felt that was the best play to make," said Borchers.
LESS THAN IDEAL: Playing a conference championship game on three and two days rest definitely isn't ideal, but that's what Real Salt Lake and Los Angeles had to battle through on Sunday night.
Usually MLS teams have a week to prepare for conference finals, but that wasn't the case this year. Next weekend is a FIFA international window, and the league thought it best not to have playoff matches with key players potentially missing.
After Sunday's match, Kreis said he hopes a better solution is figured out for future years.
"I don't want to sound like it's unfair. L.A. played the same schedule," said Kreis. "Certainly I don't think it's an ideal situation for the league, I hope in the years to come they don't compress the schedule in this fashion. I don't think it's the best thing for the game, period."
CHECKETTS PRAISES TEAM: After Sunday's loss at the Home Depot Center, Real Salt Lake co-owner Dave Checketts addressed his team in the locker room.
Andy Williams said Checketts thanked the team and said they shouldn't hang their heads despite falling to the Galaxy. Finishing third in what was a very difficult season was an impressive accomplishment.
FAMILIAR FACES: Of Real Salt Lake's 11 starters on Sunday night, eight were in the starting 11 back in the 2009 MLS Cup final against Los Angeles.
Chris Schuler, Fabian Espindola and Alvaro Saborio were the only starters who didn't start in the 2009 final. Espindola, however, did play in the final entering the match in the 75th minute.
Of the Galaxy's 11 starters on Sunday, six started the MLS Cup final. The five who didn't were Josh Saunders, A.J. DeLaGarza, Juninho, Chad Barrett and Robbie Keane. Saunders and DeLaGarza were used as substitutes. Saunders factored heavily in that match after replacing injured keeper Donovan Ricketts in the 66th minute.
Just like his RSL counterpart Nick Rimando, Saunders made two saves in the penalty kick shootout. Unfortunately for Saunders, Rimando got the hero status because Landon Donovan skied his penalty kick over the bar.
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