He plays only to help in practice anymore, but assistant coach C.J. Brown will be the center of attention before his Real Salt Lake team plays the Chicago Fire on Wednesday night, when he's inducted into the "Ring of Fire" at Toyota Park, in honor of his years of service to his old team as a player.
Then, all eyes can focus on Kyle Reynish.
The goalkeeper who has almost never played in five years with RSL will make his first start of the season in place of regular Nick Rimando, who stayed home from the trip to nurse an injured shoulder. It's only the second time since 2010 that Rimando has missed a Major League Soccer regular-season game, leaving Reynish to face an improving team that has scored seven goals in its last four games.
"I'll be ready," he promised.
Reynish acknowledged that life as a goalkeeper is "kind of all, or nothing," since back-ups at that position almost never get inserted into games they don't start.
"It's definitely a patience game," he said.
But Reynish is in his sixth season with the team since being picked in the last round of the 2007 MLS Supplemental Draft, and he feels like "I've been here for so long" that he's completely comfortable with his situation and his teammates despite having started only four regular-season games in his pro career.
That could be important, since RSL has struggled on the road recently and is still searching for its best soccer. The team is winless in its last three road games, which have included two losses, a draw, only two goals scored, five conceded including a penalty kick and two red cards.
"We're looking for our best game still," coach Jason Kreis said. "We haven't found it."
Midfielder Will Johnson is suspended for the game for another red card suffered in a 2-1 home win over New England last weekend, and at least one player believes the recent flurry of cards and penalties have made RSL "maybe a little bit tentative" defensively.
"It just seems like so many guys are looking to I don't want to say 'fall down' but make a play in the box" against RSL, midfielder Ned Grabavoy said. "Being hesitant isn't going to help us."
The team has had good success recently in Chicago, going 1-1-3 while allowing only two goals in its last five visits not counting the victory on penalty kicks in the MLS Eastern Conference final that delivered it to its MLS Cup championship game in 2009.
Oh, it picked up its latest assistant coach from there, too.
A former central defender, Brown was an original member of the Fire who played 13 seasons for the team before retiring in 2010 having made 296 league appearances and winning the 1998 MLS Cup. Barely two months after retiring as a player, he joined the RSL coaching staff to replace Robin Fraser, who had left to become head coach at Chivas USA.
Brown becomes the seventh member of the "Ring of Fire," whose names are emblazoned on banners displayed permanently at Toyota Park. His wife and two daughters joined him on the trip for the game.
"It's a great feeling," Brown said. "It means everything to me."
Real Salt Lake at Chicago
P At Toyota Park, Bridgeview, Ill.
Kickoff • 6:30 p.m. MDT
TV • CW30
Radio • 700 AM, 1600 AM, 102.3 FM
Records • RSL 7-3-1, Chicago 3-2-2
Regular-season series • Chicago leads, 6-3-5
Last meeting • Chicago 3, RSL 0 (Sept. 28, 2011)
About RSL • Riding a three-game road winless streak. â¦ Forward Alvaro Saborio has taken over the team scoring lead with four goals, including both in Saturday's 2-1 home win over New England. â¦ It has won all five games this season in which it has scored first and taken a lead into halftime. â¦ Midfielder Will Johnson is out serving a one-game red-card suspension. â¦ In all competitions, it's 23-3-5 when Saborio scores. â¦ Forward Fabian Espindola scored three goals in his first six games, but none in the last five. â¦ It ranks second in the league in fouls committed and third in fouls suffered. â¦ Goalkeeper Kyle Reynish has a 0.65 goals-against average, in 415 career minutes spanning four starts in five years.
About the Fire • It has taken only one point from its last two home games, and not beaten RSL at home since 2009. â¦ Forward Dominic Oduro leads the team with three goals. â¦ Midfielder Marco Pappa has scored in the last two games, and lit up RSL with all three goals in a 3-0 victory in their last meeting. â¦ Central defender Jalil Anibaba is expected back from a one-game red-card suspension. â¦ Forward Chris Rolfe re-signed with the team last month after three years at Aalborg BK in Denmark, but he's questionable with a sprained ankle. â¦ Goalkeeper Sean Johnson has a 1.61 goals-against average in the last four games, after returning from the U-23 national team's failed attempt to qualify for the 2012 London Olympics.