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Real Salt Lake-Fire Preview

Jul 7, 2010 - 4:48 PM By MIKE LIPKA STATS Writer

Real Salt Lake (8-3-3) at Chicago (4-4-5), 9:30 p.m. EDT

Real Salt Lake hasn't lost since April or conceded a goal since May, but most of the club's recent surge has come in the comfort of Rio Tinto Stadium.

RSL has some pleasant memories at Toyota Park, too.

The reigning MLS champion visits Bridgeview, Ill., on Thursday night to face the Chicago Fire for the first time since its victory in last year's Eastern Conference final.

RSL (8-3-3) may be the league's hottest team, going 7-0-2 since its last defeat - 1-0 at Columbus on April 24. The club has held its last four opponents without a goal since beating Kansas City 4-1 on May 29.

A 5-0 win over New England on Friday night was perhaps RSL's most dominating performance of the season. The team got two goals from Alvaro Saborio and a second-half strike from Robbie Findley, who made his return after playing for the United States at the World Cup.

It was the second goal of 2010 for Findley, who scored 12 last year but has dealt with a groin injury as well as the trip to South Africa this season.

"If you talk to him he's probably a little upset that he didn't score more," coach Jason Kreis said. "I am very pleased that he did get that one, and I am very pleased with the work he put in. Hopefully he'll be fresh and ready for Thursday night."

The victory over the Revolution extended RSL's home unbeaten streak to 18 games, but the club is 2-3-1 on the road.

A trip to Illinois didn't stop the team's impressive postseason run last fall. Although RSL plays in the Western Conference, it was shifted to the East for the playoffs and won the conference title in penalty kicks, beating the Fire after 120 scoreless minutes at Toyota Park on Nov. 14.

RSL's Nick Rimando, the eventual MLS Cup MVP, stopped three shots in the shootout after making six saves through regulation and extra time.

Rimando picked up his 100th MLS win last weekend, extending his shutout streak to a franchise-record 408 minutes.

"We're an offensive team - we've scored a lot of goals this season - but at the same time we're not letting anything in," Rimando said. "Our whole team goes forward and our whole team comes back, and that's what makes it so easy for me."

Chicago (4-4-5) didn't have an easy time Saturday at East-leading Columbus, losing 2-1 to snap a five-match unbeaten streak. The Fire's only offense came on an own goal by Crew defender Frankie Hejduk.

The Fire have gone 2-0-3 at Toyota Park since losing 2-1 to San Jose in their home opener.

RSL has never won at Chicago in the regular season, going 0-3-2.