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Crew-Real Salt Lake Preview

Aug 13, 2010 - 8:50 PM By NICOLINO DIBENEDETTO STATS Writer

Columbus (11-4-4) at Real Salt Lake (10-4-6), 9:00 p.m. EDT

Real Salt Lake's bid for the longest home unbeaten streak in MLS history is about to be severely tested by the club that owns the mark.

RSL looks to extend its franchise-record run to 21 home games without a defeat when they face the Eastern Conference-leading Columbus Crew on Saturday night.

Salt Lake (10-4-6) has gone 14-0-6 at Rio Tinto Stadium since a 2-0 loss to Kansas City on May 16, 2009. The club also won the lone playoff game at Rio Tinto in that stretch, beating Columbus (11-4-4) in October on its way to winning its first MLS Cup.

A victory Saturday would move RSL's unbeaten streak to within one of the Crew's record, which ended in September. That would put Salt Lake in position to tie the mark against New York on Sept. 4.

RSL defeated the Crew 4-1 in the most recent regular-season matchup at Rio Tinto on April 2, 2009. However, Salt Lake lost 1-0 at Columbus on April 24.

RSL has gone 1-1-3 in its last five and is coming off consecutive 1-all ties, at Philadelphia on Wednesday and at Kansas City four days prior.

Salt Lake is expected to have a number of starters back in the lineup after coach Jason Kreis opted to rest goalkeeper Nick Rimando, defenders Jamison Olave and Robbie Russell, midfielders Kyle Beckerman and Will Johnson and forward Robbie Findley against the Union.

Depth may be key for RSL and the Crew as they face heavy schedules for the remainder of the regular season. They begin play in the CONCACAF Champions League on Wednesday, a tournament that adds six games to the schedule. Salt Lake has 10 contests left in MLS and Columbus 11.

Steven Lenhart has highlighted the Crew's depth, scoring three times in two games. The forward found the net twice in a 2-1 victory at Philadelphia on Aug. 5 as Columbus won for the third time in four matches.

Lenhart has four goals in 17 games, matching his career high set as a rookie in 2008.

Guillermo Barros Schelotto's durability could also be an important factor for Columbus over the remainder of the season. The 37-year-old midfielder, who scored on a penalty against RSL in April, leads the team with five goals and seven assists.

"Before he was injured (last year), he was very fit," coach Robert Warzycha told the team's official website. "Then he got the injury and he never got the fitness back. He's doing well now. He's fit. I like to keep him on the field."

Warzycha is in his second season at the helm of the Crew, and the club picked up the option for a third Friday.






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