What a game!
The boys accomplished mission impossible last night at the Home Depot Center. RSL pulled through against the LA Galaxy in a spectacular late comeback to win their third Californian season opener in a row with a score of 3-1.
The analysts over at mlssoccer.com made predictions of the outcomes of all the games going on this weekend. Of the six or seven analysts, not one picked Real Salt Lake to beat the defending champs. Three picked LA to win and the rest predicted a draw. This is one of my favorite parts of the RSL culture: thriving off of the underdog position. Real has taken that to the max over the last few seasons, defying odds and winning. Even winning the MLS Cup with everyone betting against them in 2009. Since then, Real Salt Lake has been a very strong team recognized for its attractive style of play. And in many cases, it is the favorite. But the most memorable and dramatic games always come in a situation when RSL aren’t the expected winners. The RSL motto, “Fortune Favors The Bold” is a perfect fit for the team.
Real started the game boldly, but not overzealous. They were able to keep great portions of possession and string passes through the holes in the Galaxy’s positioning. They created several chances, but seemed to be to anxious to put them away. Defensively, Real seemed to send defenders one by one at the attacking team hoping to shut down the push toward goal. When LA was able to bring the ball into a position where they could swerve it into the box, RSL seemed to pack the box with players. Near the end of the first half the Galaxy tested Rimando with some long-range strikes that rattled against the crossbar.
In my opinion, Real was lucky not to concede in the first half, but also unlucky to not have capitalized on their opportunities. The second half was much more explosive with both teams taking more and more chances as the match waned. Those risks eventually took their toll on the LA defense.
The Galaxy took the lead via a David Beckham cross to Edson Buddle who happily headed home the goal after getting between Schuler and Olave. But just two minutes later the score was evened back up after some tricky play from our rookie Sebastian Velasquez on the sideline followed by a cross that ended up in the back of the net after ricocheting off of an LA Galaxy defender. RSL took that momentum and used it to score two more late goals by Javier Morales and Fabian Espindola to win it 3-1.
After the game Velasquez recounted his goal, “I was on the right side so as soon as I got the ball I knew I had to cut to my left. The first time I did I rolled over the ball and then I cut it back and just hit a cross. I really didn’t see the goal but what I saw was the defender was on the ground and the keeper had his hands up so I knew something had happened and that is how I realized it had gone in.”
What a fantastic start to the season for Real! My respect goes to all the fans that were willing and able to travel down to see our boys play!
We’re Here For RSL!