RSL preps for first Sunday match in franchise history
Sandy • For the first time in franchise history, the lights at Rio Tinto Stadium will be shining bright on a Sunday night.
As Real Salt Lake hosts the Portland Timbers in the first leg of the Western Conference final Sunday, it marks the first Sunday match in the club's 350-game history.
No. 351 is a match scheduled on three days' notice following RSL's 2-1 aggregate win over the L.A. Galaxy in the Western Conference semifinal Thursday evening in Sandy.
RSL coach Jason Kreis said after the series-clinching win over the Galaxy that he hopes fans arrive early for the nationally televised kick on ESPN.
"We need to be here early," he said. "There needs to be that really raucous singing of the song 'Believe.' At the beginning of the match [Thursday], I thought that was spectacular how noisy it was. And just to carry that energy and to continue to believe."
"I believe the fans here will support us no matter what day it is," Kreis added Saturday. "We all know how much this match means to us."
As of Saturday afternoon, RSL had sold 13,000 tickets in 24 hours. The capacity of Rio Tinto Stadium is 20,238, with potential for added standing room.
Forward Alvaro Saborio will miss Sunday's first leg against Portland after suffering a muscle pull in extra time of Thursday's win over L.A. Kreis confirmed that RSL's leading scorer will be out Saturday afternoon. Losing Saborio hurts RSL offensively, considering the Costa Rican star has notched seven goals in six career games against the Timbers. Kreis said midfielder Ned Grabavoy is in contention to play Sunday after missing Thursday's match with a left hamstring strain.
Meet the wall
Real Salt Lake and Portland feature two of the top goalkeepers in the league in Nick Rimando and Donovan Ricketts. Both are considered frontrunners for the 2013 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year award. The two keepers have identical save percentages of 73 percent this season.
Late TRAX service
O Utah Transit Authority will extend its TRAX service Sunday for at least 30 minutes after the game ends. UTA advises fans to head to TRAX stations as soon as the game is over to make sure they catch their ride.