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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Shadow challenge Real Salt Lake

J.D. Larson Correspondent

With Major League Soccer’s Real Salt Lake traveling to play an exhibition match against the Spokane Shadow, members of the Pacific Development League, several rungs below the MLS, the expectation would not be for the match to mean anything.

Real Salt Lake, though, is searching for a working combination on the field after a 557-minute scoring drought, and will have players in Spokane with significant MLS experience.

The expansion club sits fifth in the Western Conference with a 3-9-3 record, and just ended the league-record scoreless streak with a goal on June 23 by 19-year-old forward Jaime Watson.

Watson will travel with the team for the exhibition match, played tonight at Joe Albi Stadium at 7:05.

Despite the talented squad coming to Spokane, RSL’s largest drawing card will not be a player with much professional experience.

Nik Besagno, a 16-year-old midfielder from Maple Valley, Wash., was selected first in the 2005 MLS SuperDraft and Parade magazine named him its 2005 high school player of the year.

He’s played in 11 international matches with the U-17 and U-20 national teams, and teammate Watson also has plenty of experience with national youth teams.

Watson, who has started RSL’s last two MLS games, has 21 international appearances with the U-17 and U-20 teams.

Dipsy Selolwane, a forward from Botswana, will also be making the trip to Spokane. Selolwane, while playing for his country’s national team, leads Africa in goals scored during the current round of World Cup qualifying.

RSL will also bring along midfielder Leslie Fitzpatrick of Trinidad & Tobago, who has made six starts; defensive midfielder Kenny Cutler, who has started the last four games; and defender Cameron Knowles, who has started the last two games in place of national team member Eddie Pope.

Matt Behncke, a defender who has made 31 career MLS starts, six with RSL this year, also will be in Spokane.

Both of RSL’s goalkeepers will be here, including D.J. Countess, who has started 14 of 15 MLS games this year with a 1.73 goals-against average.

RSL’s backup keeper, Jay Nolly, won his only MLS start after winning back-to-back national championships at Indiana University.

Spokane comes into this game on a three-game winning streak, the most important win a 3-1 triumph Friday night at division-leading Cascade.

Cascade (8-1-1, 25 points) is four points up on the Shadow (7-4-0, 21 points) in the PDL’s Northwest Division.

Spokane gets the weekend off after the exhibition before returning to league play July 9-10 at Abbotsford.

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