Saturday was a homecoming for a few members of the RSL organization. Ned Grabavoy attended Lincoln-Way Central High School in nearby New Lenox, Illinois, and was a member of the Fire’s Premier Development League (PDL) squad now known as the Chicago Fire Under-23s.
Grabavoy scored the winning penalty kick for RSL in the 2009 Eastern Conference final against Chicago. RSL then beat the Los Angeles Galaxy for the MLS Cup title.
It’s also a homecoming for defender Chris Schuler, who was a member of the Fire’s PDL side from 2006 to 2009. Additionally, RSL GM Garth Lagerway played for the Chicago Magic SC youth club, as did Grabavoy and Schuler.
This is first match against RSL for Fire defender Lovel Palmer since being traded in the offseason and for former assistant CJ Brown and former player Clint Mathis since joining Fire head coach Frank Yallop’s technical staff in the offseason.
Don’t rock the boat
Real Salt Lake went with the same lineup it used last week against Vancouver. The Fire made two changes to their lineup from two weeks ago against New England. Benji Joya replaced the injured Alex in midfield. Juan Luis Anangono was up front with Mike Magee as Quincy Amarikwa was suspended.
Finally, not a draw
Saturday’s match nearly ended in a draw, which wouldn’t have been an unusual result for the Fire or RSL. The Fire had drawn six consecutive matches coming into Saturday, which tied a Major League Soccer record. Real Salt Lake is one of four teams that had five draws coming into Saturday.
Four of the last six meetings at Toyota Park before Saturday ended in a draw, including the 2009 Eastern Conference final, which RSL won on penalties. Last year’s match at Rio Tinto between the two squads also ended in a draw.
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