Real Salt Lake v New York Red Bulls – FC Tucson Desert Diamond Cup

MLS Preview: Real Salt Lake at New York Red Bulls

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  • RSL’ eight-game unbeaten run is over
  • Salt Lake are 3-0-3 in last six games vs. New York
  • April 18, 2009, last time New York beat RSL

It will be a very tasty clash between these two at Red Bull Arena on Saturday, there’s no doubt about that.

Real Salt Lake head to New York top of the West and have the best record in MLS, while the home side are hoping they can make ground on first-placed Sporting KC in the East.

Last time out RSL were involved in a controversial clash with Sporting KC, as Chris Wingert was sent off and a late Ike Opara goal handed Jason Kreis’ side their first defeat in nine.

While New York couldn’t score against a stingy Toronto outfit and succumbed to a disappointing 0-0 tie up at BMO Field.

So both will hope to get back to winning ways.

Kreis’ squad has been hit heavily by the Gold Cup, with veteran ‘keeper Nick Rimando, defender Tony Beltran and captain Kyle Beckerman all on duty for the US. This clash is also intriguing as former RSL stars Fabian Espindola and Jamison Olave will be facing up against their old team. They were part of a double trade over the offseason that raised plenty of eyebrows around the league. This game is the only time the two sides will meet this season, so Olave and Espindola will have to put past friendships to one side and do battle.

For New York, they desperately want to record a win against RSL after not tasting success in their previous six matches. They’ve lost three in a row to Salt Lake and have won just three out of the 15 games all-time. If the Red Bulls do manage to grab all three points, they’d be just one point behind SKC in the Eastern conference standings. New signing Bradley Wright-Phillips may feature for New York.

The game is available to watch on MLS Live at 7pm ET on Saturday.

What they’re saying

New York head coach Mike Petke on RSL: “They have a system that they play that Jason [Kreis] has been working on for years and he has the right players in there so that when they do miss key players they have players to step right in and they don’t miss a beat. They’re very organized behind the ball, they like to come very narrow in the midfield and possess the ball, get numbers up to play the ball around you, and they have outside fullbacks that like to get forward and are a danger up top whoever it is, [Alvaro] Saborio, [Robbie] Findley. These guys are fast paced players who have a nose for the ball.”

Red Bulls midfielder Tim Cahill: “They’re scoring their goals and obviously not conceding a lot but there they seem to get the edge on a lot of teams but you know for us we’re very good at home. We put on a great performance against Montreal and you know the pressure was on then, so I suppose it’s up to us to step up to the challenge again.”

New York’s captain Thierry Henry: “For me, since I have been in this league, Salt Lake has been the best team by a distance. But as you know here you have to win the MLS Cup. You know if it was in any other league, Real Salt Lake would have been champions this year, like in terms of consistency.”

RSL’s Ned Grabavoy on the loss to Sporting: “I thought we were in a good spot there until the red card. We were up 1-0 and thought we were playing really well, for the most part. Things were tight in the back. We were in a good position until that point. Obviously it was under tough circumstances. On a different night we probably walk out of here with a point, but we don’t. So we need a reaction next week.”

Prediction

This could be the time for the Red Bulls to pounce and have yet another marquee win at home. They absolutely battered Montreal at home two weeks ago, and with a weakened Salt Lake side and a long trip cross-country, the Red Bulls may finally break their jinx against Jason Kreis’ side. That defeat to Sporting KC was demoralizing and RSL must react positively. It will be a huge battle, but Henry may have something special up his sleeve to decide this one.

VIDEO: Man United’s Marcus Rashford scores 3 minutes into his England debut

NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND - MAY 26:  Marcus Rashford of England arrives at the team hotel on the eve of their international friendly against Australia at the Hilton Gateshead on May 26, 2016 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.  (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
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12 months ago Nine months ago Six months ago Three months ago, if anyone asked you, “who is Marcus Rashford?” you, just like me, probably would have responded as such: “I haven’t a clue. Should I know who he is?”

[ MORE: Man United confirm Mourinho as new manager ]

Stars are, of course, born overnight in the sports world, and the 18-year-old Manchester United striker, who spent 12 years with the club’s youth academy, is just the latest example. On Feb. 25, he made his first-team debut and scored twice in the Europa League. Three days later, he made his Premier League debut, again scoring twice.

[ MORE: Mourinho — “I prefer to forget the last three years at United” ]

Fast forward to Friday, and Rashford is a fully-fledged England international. In keeping up with the theme of his other debuts this season, he marked his international debut with a goal against Australia after just three minutes of play at the Stadium of Light.

It remains to be seen whether Rashford completes his hat trick of debut braces this year. We’ll update this post if he does so.

Croatia gets 2-match World Cup stadium ban for fascist chant

POZNAN, POLAND - JUNE 10:  Croatian fans light up flares during the UEFA EURO 2012 group C between Ireland and Croatia at The Municipal Stadium on June 10, 2012 in Poznan, Poland.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
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ZURICH (AP) Croatia has been ordered to play two World Cup qualifying matches in empty stadiums for repeated cases of fans chanting fascist slogans.

FIFA fined the Croatian soccer federation 150,000 Swiss francs ($151,000), and ordered the stadium bans to take effect when Croatia hosts Turkey on Sept. 5 and Finland on Oct. 9.

Chile was also ordered to play one World Cup qualifier away from its national stadium over fans chanting anti-gay insults, FIFA said in disciplinary rulings announced Friday. FIFA also fined five Latin American soccer federations for “discriminatory and unsporting conduct by fans,” including anti-gay insults, at World Cup qualifiers.

[ MORE: USMNT-Bolivia preview | Castillo replaces Chandler ]

Croatia fans were guilty of discriminatory chants at friendlies against Israel and Hungary in March, FIFA said.

Croatia “had already been sanctioned for similar incidents by FIFA and UEFA” in previous seasons, the world soccer body said.

Before the 2014 World Cup, FIFA banned Croatia defender Josip Simunic for 10 matches for leading fans in a World War II-era chant used by the country’s then-puppet regime.

After incidents of anti-gay chants at the last World Cup in Brazil, FIFA has cracked down on insults aimed by Latin American fans at players on rival teams.

[ MORE: Three battles that could determine UCL final ]

Chile cannot use its national stadium when it hosts Bolivia on Sept. 6 and must pay a fine of 30,000 Swiss francs ($30,250). A second stadium-ban sanction was deferred for a two-year probationary period.

In other sanctions for soccer federations, FIFA fined Honduras 40,000 Swiss francs ($40,300), Mexico and El Salvador 35,000 Swiss francs ($35,275) each, Paraguay 20,000 Swiss francs ($20,150), and Peru 15,000 Swiss francs ($15,115).

UEFA Champions League final preview — Madrid’s finest Real or Atleti?

MILAN, ITALY - MAY 27:  Diego Simeone head coach of Atletico Madrid looks on during an Atletico de Madrid training session on the eve of the UEFA Champions League Final against Real Madrid at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on May 27, 2016 in Milan, Italy.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
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Saturday’s UEFA Champions League final isn’t quite the unstoppable force against the immovable object — Real’s defense is good and Atleti has plenty of attacking intent — but it’s fair if you’re expecting the Madrid Derby final to be Diego Simeone’s diligent defenders attempting to counter Cristiano Ronaldo and Real Madrid’s potent attack.

[ MORE: Mourinho confirmed ]

Simeone’s built his name on tight teamwork, and La Liga teams broke Atleti down a mere 18 times in 38 matches this season. Before you crow about the weakness of Spain’s top flight from top to bottom, Real only managed a single goal against Atleti in a 1-1 draw that came at the Vicente Calderon. Atleti triumphed 1-0 at the Bernabeu to take four of six points from their derby mates.

But this is the big one, and a rematch of the late thriller we saw in the 2014 final. That’s when Diego Godin’s 36th minute goal came within seconds of being the difference, only for Sergio Ramos to net in stoppage time and Real to score three goals in extra time for a 4-1 win.

[ MORE: Torres ready for “game of my life” ]

Ronaldo will be fine to go, which is obviously bad news for Atleti. While his goal at the end of the 2014 final was just chiseled-ab window dressing, he has scored in both of his UCL finals (He scored for Manchester United in the 26th minute of their 2008 defeat of Chelsea).

(Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)

The beauty of Atleti’s defense is how well it springs into the attack, with Godin and Filipe Luis both capable of providing offense.

But really, with respect to Gabi and Antoine Griezmann… that defense! Atleti allowed three goals in the group stage, and just seven across its 12 UCL matches.

How will Simeone aim to stop Real this time around? Will it be banks of four or five, with Torres and Griezmann waiting to strike on a fleet-footed counter? That could serve their disciplined unit well, but something tells me Simeone has something special cooked up for this much-anticipated rematch, and manager is a distinct edge for Atleti against a still-learning Zinedine Zidane.

As an aside, Griezmann has been fantastic, scoring 32 times this year with seven coming in the UCL. Torres is second in scoring, with 12.

Championship playoff preview: Sheffield Wednesday vs. Hull City

DERBY, UNITED KINGDOM - MAY 14:  Eldin Jakupovic of Hull City celebrates as Andrew Robertson of Hull City scores their third goal during the Sky Bet Championship Play Off semi final first leg match between Derby County and Hull City at the iPro Stadium on May 14, 2016 in Derby, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
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One is hoping to rejoin the Premier League at the first time of asking, while the other to see its first top flight action since 2000 with a win in Saturday’s promotion playoff final at Wembley Stadium.

Hull City did not make the top flight from its inception in 1904 until winning the playoffs in 2008. Since, the Tigers have spent a pair of 2-season stints in the Premier League.

Sheffield Wednesday, for its part, spent nine seasons in the top tier from 1991-2000, but fell as low as League One in the 21st century before a run to the playoffs this season.

[ MORE: Three battles that could determine UCL final ]

Hull’s stingy defense allowed 35 goals this season, tied for the second-best mark in the league, while scoring the fourth-most goals (69). The Tigers finished in fourth place to Wednesday’s sixth, and the sides drew 0-0 at Hull and 1-1 in the reverse fixture.

Uruguayan striker Abel Hernandez was far and away Hull’s most deadly scorer, notching 21 goals in the Championship this season, while Sam Clucas paced the club with 8 assists.

Wednesday’s scoring was paced by former Watford attacker Fernando Forestieri’s 15 goals. Veteran Gary Hooper added 13 for the Owls, who got a team-best eight assists from Ross Wallace.

It’s the “richest game in sports”, and kicks off at Noon ET Saturday.