Real Salt Lake-Chivas USA Preview
By NOEY KUPCHAN
(AP) -- After clinching a fifth consecutive postseason berth last weekend, Real Salt Lake has turned its attention to finishing in one of the Western Conference's top three spots.
Squaring off against the West's worst team could help in that quest.
Visiting RSL tries to take advantage of Saturday night's matchup against woeful Chivas USA before heading into the season's final month.
Fabian Espindola and Javier Morales scored their seventh and third goals, respectively, as Salt Lake (15-11-4) beat Portland 2-1 last Saturday to lock up a playoff spot.
Sitting in a second-place tie in the conference, RSL and Los Angeles remain 11 points behind league-leading San Jose but just one ahead of fourth-place Seattle. The No. 4 and No. 5 seeds will meet in a one-game elimination match, with the winner moving on to face the West's top team.
"The original goal for every team is to get into the playoffs and then you kind of re-establish your objectives and hope to make a run at the title," defender Chris Wingert said. "For us to make it again is definitely a big accomplishment, but now we want to try and make sure we finish in the top three.
"(We) want to focus on Chivas but we realize that afterwords there are a couple big games with those teams that are batting for those couple spots with us."
While RSL visits the Galaxy and Sounders following this match, coach Jason Kreis knows taking Chivas USA (7-15-7) lightly could prove costly.
"I still think it's a team that has some very quality, dangerous players," Kreis said. "If we don't give them our full respect and attention they'll beat us."
Chivas finds itself in the midst of an 0-7-2 skid and is coming off a fifth consecutive loss, 1-0 at D.C. on Sunday. The club, which was handed a franchise-worst six straight defeats in 2010, hasn't gone 10 games without a victory since a team-record 0-9-2 skid during its inaugural 2005 campaign.
"We definitely are taking the last games very seriously," midfielder Nick Labrocca said. "We don't want to end the season with the streak that we are on right now. We're going to attack the next games and try to get a couple of wins so that we end the season on a positive note."
Chivas, outscored 10-1 during its losing streak, is expected to have coach Robin Fraser available following a two-game suspension.
"I'm looking forward to it because this is why we all do this, we all do this to try to win," he told the league's official website. "Our backs are against the wall and we need to come out and have a good performance and certainly I want to be a part of it as we've gone through so much this year with this group."
Updated September 28, 2012