Sandy » Coach Jason Kreis was eager to find out which of his Real Salt Lake players would fight for the team as it heads into the last desperate stretch of its Major League Soccer season next week, and now he knows:
Just about all of them.
In an exhibition game that was anything but friendly, RSL tied Mexico's Chivas de Guadalajara 1-1 in front of 16,646 fans at Rio Tinto Stadium on Wednesday night amid a flurry of flaring tempers that nearly escalated into a something far more serious -- both on and off the field.
"It's always good to play friendlies," midfielder Will Johnson said. "But ... these guys, they just come in and kick you, and some dirty plays have led to quite possibly the end of seasons for some of our important players."
Sniping at one another almost from the start, the teams combined for five yellow cards in the first half while the roaring, flag-waving, pro-Chivas crowd made RSL feel as if it was playing in the most hostile of cauldrons on the road.
RSL's Jamison Olave and Chivas' Edgar Solis were ejected with red cards just before halftime, following a heated confrontation that had the teams jostling at midfield. Solis appeared to elbow RSL's Andy Williams during a challenge for the ball, igniting the pushing and shoving.
Players exchanged words again moments later, too, as they walked up the same tunnel toward the locker rooms for halftime, by which time RSL's Javier Morales and Ned Grabavoy already had suffered potentially devastating injuries. Morales suffered a badly sprained ankle, while team officials fear Grabavoy broke his foot.
"Everybody that saw the game knows how it was," Grabavoy said.
In the end, RSL wound up with enough to feel at least hopeful about its final three games.
"Our guys didn't have a whole lot of letdown," Kreis said.
IN SHORT » RSL earns a 1-1 draw with Chivas de Guadalajara in a nasty exhibition game, in preparation for its final three games of the MLS regular season.