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Lehi • Real Salt Lake coach Jason Kreis presents an image of calm, an object of solid resolve in a roller-coaster season.
He has good reason Jamison Olave is getting healthy and may see time during Saturday's game at Chivas USA.
"We call him around the locker room sometimes 'The Eraser,' " Kreis said. "He's sometimes capable of making that really special play that saves a goal."
Despite a run of poor fortune that included a kick-to-the groin last-second loss at Houston, the team's fourth in five games, Olave is one of the reasons Kreis and his players are sticking to the positive party line.
"[Olave] has the close-down speed to just go through [Houston's] Brad Davis before Brad ever gets the chance to slot the ball to [Brian] Ching," Kreis said of the heartbreaking Aug. 20 loss. "Maybe that is the difference right now."
With the rugged, physical Olave at center back, RSL's defense becomes much more formidable. Goals have become easier for opponents since Olave's MCL injury in the July 27 MLS All-Star Game.
RSL has allowed eight goals in five matches, including four losses. Salt Lake, which sits fifth in the Western Conference and in a wild-card position in the MLS playoffs, allowed just 12 goals in the first 18 games.
Last year at the Home Depot Center, RSL forward Fabian Espindola scored the game-winner in the 89th minute of a 2-1 victory.
"We're just letting in some goals at tough times," midfielder and captain Kyle Beckerman said. "It's just the lack of concentration that comes with summer days. Everything is good. You would think that we are in last place. We're one win away from being happy."
There are other subplots involving Saturday's 8:30 p.m. clash. First, Chivas is only five points behind RSL. Then there is Chivas coach Robin Fraser, who is a former Kreis assistant and remains a good friend. Kreis said the two have put that friendship on hold during the season.
Also, this is RSL's first game against Chivas since Marcos Mondaini smashed RSL midfielder Javier Morales' ankle to bits in early May. Morales is still a month away from returning to the squad.
Any lingering hard feelings?
"I don't think so," Beckerman said. "I don't even know who the kid who hurt Javier is. I can't worry about that, we're just trying to get a result."
Real Salt Lake at Chivas USA
P At the Home Depot Center, Carson, Calif.
Kickoff • 8:30 p.m. (MDT). TV • Fox Soccer Channel
Radio • 700 AM, 1600 AM
Records • RSL 10-7-6, Chivas 7-9-10
All-time series • Chivas 9-6-4
Last meeting • RSL, 1-0 (May 7)
About RSL • With a win or draw Saturday at The Home Depot Center, RSL would avoid a third consecutive MLS loss, something that has happened just once since Jason Kreis became head coach in July 2007.
About Chivas • The Red and White finished a stretch of five consecutive road games with a 1-0 loss at Portland. … Chivas acquired Colombian striker Juan Pablo Angel last week from the Los Angeles Galaxy.