Archive | March 2012

Various information and an interview with Jason Kries

A lot of news for you all today surrounding various subjects such as the upcoming match this Saturday, Jason Kries’ appearance on mlssoccer.com’s Extratime Radio, and other various random items.

First of all, the random but pertinent stuff:  Three RSL personnel were nominated in different categories of the Governor’s State of Sports Awards.  Kyle Beckerman features in the College/Pro Athlete Male category, Saborio’s backheel against the Sounders is one of the nominees for Play/Highlight of the Year category, and Jason Kries is up for running for the Coach of the Year award.  This is the competition’s inaugural year, so be sure to participate and support Real! http://www.stateofsportawards.com/ (Just a side note: Be sure to click the vote button on the RIGHT side of the thumbnail.)

Also, news was released today that Javier Morales and Alvaro Saborio received their green cards.  This is nothing less than huge as it frees up the international slots in our roster that we needed open.

The last of the slightly random stuff pertains to this weekend’s home opener against the Red Bulls.  Firstly, the game may be on St. Patrick’s Day, but WEAR RED, NOT GREEN.  You’re much more likely to get pinched for not wearing red to the game.  However, the only green products that will be okay for the game will be the classy looking green jerseys we had for Earth Day back in 2008 and the all-new special edition green scarves that you can get at the team store this week along with a voucher for tickets in the north section of the stadium for $35.  Also, a huge thing is going to happen before the match for the first time in Real Salt Lake history:  A march to the match!  That’s right,  meet at the outside the south end of the stadium near the Colonel’s Corner at 7:30 to join others in walking around the stadium and singing and  shouting your guts out for the Claret and Cobalt!

Now on with the gist of this post.  Mlssoccer.com’s analysts at Extratime Radio decided to call up our coach Jason Kries and ask his opinion on a few things.  It was an interesting interview.  You can go ahead and check it out on the MLS website, but I’ll be covering most of it here.

When asked about how much stock he put into the win against LA, Jason Kries responded, “Enough stock to gain confidence. . . Am I gonna say that we’re gonna be the best team in the league because of that win?  Absolutely not.”  He went on to say that he knows what it’s like to play in both the CCL and MLS and acknowledges the stresses that the Galaxy are forced to deal with.

The guys on ET Radio seemed to be very interested in Velasquez (as most everybody is these days).  Kries said that he realized that this was the first time he had ever started a rookie in the first game of the year.  But this start came under several specific circumstances.  Firstly, Tian has shown that he deserves it by working extremely hard throughout the entire preseason.  Also, the start was greatly affected by the absences from the regular starting IX.

According to Jason, the injury situation seems to be getting slightly worse.  Apparently a few guys won’t be able to shake off some knocks from the clash in Los Angelas.  Tony Beltran took a hit to the knee and will most likely sit out the match this weekend.  Both Sabo and Javi’s schedules got backed up.  Javier hurt his knee when he scored his goal.  Alvaro knocked up his knee in training.  Neither are expected to contribute any more than they did in the opening game of the season.  Will Johnson is still out for the next few weeks as he recovers from his surgery in Germany.  Nat Borchers seems to be getting better.  He featured in the reserve game against FC Dallas that the RSL second team eventually lost 3-1.  Ironic huh?  Anyway, coach says to expect more newer and younger guys to get some time against New York.

SLTID

Real’s first goal of the season celebration @ The Republican

This brings back memories of celebrations for Donovan’s goal at the 2010 World Cup!

Real Salt Lake @ LA Galaxy 3/10/12

3-1 win in the season opener!

Evaluation: RSL @ LA

I’d say that Real did well to control the game and keep the ball.  The only two instances that the Galaxy enjoyed enough possession in the final third to really attack RSL hard were around the twenty-seventh minute, when Landon Donovan sent a rocket against the crossbar and Mike Magee tried our a bicycle kick, and in the dying moments of the game, when they pressed and pressed and forced some spectacular saves by Rimando and the defense.

LA Galaxy coach Bruce Arena took the blame for his team’s loss, but honestly, I believe that RSL simply knocked the Galaxy out with their 3 late goals and LA had nothing left in the tank to fight back with.  If LA is so focused on Champions League play, then why would they put a full-strength line-up on the field against Real Salt Lake in a game that only accounts for 3.something percent of the season.  They wouldn’t.  Arena thought that this game against Real was more important than his upcoming CCL clash with Toronto.  And that’s why he played his starters instead of resting them.  They simply failed.  No excuses.

The RSL youngsters that featured in the match did quite well.  Chris Schuler was very solid across the backline aside from a really bad pass to Chris Wingert in the second half and a missed attempt to get a cross out of the danger area.  He fit in well, but I wasn’t quite as impressed with his performance last night as I was with his preseason performance.  Sebastian Velasquez was the very opposite.  In the preseason he played well I thought, but I didn’t think he was really mature enough for the first team.  He proved me wrong.  Very wrong.  He was a standout player on the field.  He performed so well that I am absolutely positive that he will be starting for RSL for good stretches throughout the season.  I think he’s a guy that could end up being an RSL great in the future if he stays with the club.

Ha ha! Oh, David Beckham!  He always makes me laugh when he plays against Real!  He is so lethal in the attacking third, yet he seems to lapse at just the right moment on defense and ends up getting scored on!  Look at Real’s home opener last year.  When Morales scored his wonderstrike from outside the penalty area, Beckham, who was supposedly marking Javi, was simply staring into space and not paying attention at all.  Watch the highlights of that 4-1 win on youtube.com.  On Javier’s goal, the camera will show a dazed Beckham realizing that Morales is running past him!  And then last night.  Again on Javier Morales’ scrappy goal, David was caught way behind the play after screaming at the official, Kevin Stott.

Well, overall RSL played well.  And they also got the result they were looking for!

BELIEVE

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!

Match Preview: Season Opener @ LA Galaxy

All of the offseason has built up to today.  Everything kicks off tonight against the LA Galaxy.  But what can we expect from Real?  And what about LA?  Reports show that neither team will play their strongest line-up.

LA played Wednesday against Toronto in a dramatic CCL quarterfinal.  They’ll be playing the second leg this coming week.  Because every team wants to do what RSL did and is trying to copy their success that almost won it all (go as far as possible in the Champions League) the Galaxy will be resting several starters.  Who they rest and for how much of the game is up in the air though.  We could see Landycakes and Becks playing a full 90.

RSL, on the other hand will not be playing all its starters due to an injury dilemma that has carried on from last season to now.  Luckily for Real fans, the injuries seem to be healing up.  And unless more players get injured we should be seeing a full-strength RSL squad in a month.  It’s been a long time since that’s happened.  At least for any substantial amount of time.  Real had their starting XI against Seattle in the first leg of the playoffs last season.  And we destroyed them with a clobbering 3-0.  But, we saw our centerbacks pick up some injuries that still haven’t been entirely shaken off.

Will Johnson will not start for sure.  He went to Germany to have a sports hernia surgery.  Instead of rejoining Real Salt Lake when he planned to, he took the advice of fellow Canadian and MLSer Pat Onstad and stayed in Germany for an extra recovery day.  Borchers is not expected to see any time on the pitch either.

Some players that you most likely will see in their limited time are Alvaro Saborio, who’s birthday is coming up (See Upcoming Events), and Javi Morales.  Both may start, but with their knocks still healing, neither should be expected to go a full 90.  I’d guess that if we had a two goal lead at half time, both Javi and Sabo would go off.  I’m not predicting any lead like that though and I think that they’ll each play 50-70 minutes.

So all in all, we should see some faces that weren’t present on the team last year in the Real Salt Lake line-up.  We can only hope for the best and support our team to the end.  make sure to watch it on channel 4 at 8:30 tonight!

GO REAL!!!

Last gasp for core group

First off, for all you fans, this coming week is officially Real Week!  The climax will of course be our home opener against the NY Red Bulls.  For a rundown of everything going on next week in the RSL Nation check out this link.  http://www.realsaltlake.com/RealWeek

Secondly, it was very intriguing to learn from Real Salt Lake GM Garth Lagerway that the Supporters’ Shield isn’t a focus for this season.  Instead Real is solely turning its attention to securing a spot in the CONCACAF Champions League knockout stages and winning the MLS Cup.  Since winning the MLS Cup back in 2009, RSL’s main goal has been to win the Supporters Shield by having the best regular-season record.  To Lagerway, the Supporters Shield is worthless now with the new unbalanced schedule being introduced this year.  Because of the new format, each team now plays three games against each of their opponents within their conference and one game against each opponent outside of their conference.  This makes reaching the Supporters Shield a lot harder for Western Conference teams, which are generally much stronger.  But hey, if we have a great season, there’s always a good chance at the Shield.

Garth made a very good point that has gotten me very excited for this season.  Here’s his quote, “We kept this group together for one reason – to win, and to win titles.”

Knowing that this is the last season with the entire core together is tough, but now there cannot be any more excuses.  This is one of the last chances on Real for some of these guys.  I have no doubt that RSL will be going all or nothing this season.  I am anticipating some pretty dramatic games.

GO RSL!!!

March is Coming

A great fan-made video that should pump you up for the season opener!

Preseason review

Real Salt Lake’s 2012 preseason has officially come to an end.  I have to say it was definitely much more eventful and fan-friendly than in years past.  And I mean fan-friendly in two ways, but I’ll get to that later in my article.  First off in today’s article is a review on our preseason performance.

RSL started its preseason fixtures with several ties against some of the other MLS teams down in Arizona for preseason training.  I believe that the main purpose for these was to see all the trialists in action in a real game scenario.  I won’t say much about these because of how little they really have to do with the current roster’s performance on the pitch.

The Desert Diamond Cup was truly a great thing for MLS teams, especially Real.  It was very fan-friendly in that it was much closer to Utah than   any other preseason tournaments and that it was live-streamed online by mlssoccer.com.  It was interesting to watch the new guys play together in an RSL kit.  It seemed obvious to me that they were trying to play the “RSL way” by keeping control of the ball with quick passes in short spaces and attacking up the wings.  However, it seemed like they were almost trying to force it.  At times it was a little frustrating.  This is definitely temporary because the new guys are all still trying to gel in with the team and haven’t had much time.  This was really evident when some of the first team players would step onto the field and things would really start ticking.

Performance-wise I wasn’t incredibly impressed.  Aside from Real’s few great goals it seemed that RSL struggled to create solid chances in the final third.  I really hope this isn’t a sign of what’s to come in the season.  But then again, there was never a time when our entire starting eleven were on the field.

Jason Kries said earlier this year in a fan Q&A that he was a very nervous coach.  He went on to explain that he knew the core group could perform, but with so many changes, it was hard to find confidence in an entire twenty-six man squad.  I think that I feel about the same.  I’m confident that our starting eleven can go all the way.  But as for the new guys, I am very nervous, but even more excited.  I have a feeling that this is going to be a growing year for most of the new guys.  And come next season, they’ll be tearing apart other teams!

What could go wrong and how we might be able to avoid it

The 2012 season could be very critical for Real Salt Lake.  We haven’t endured through so many offseason changes in several years.  We saw a good chunk of our depth waived or traded away and a few starters like Andy Williams and Robbie Russel leave the team.  (Andy retired and is now a scout for RSL) We also saw Real bring in more trialists and Superdraft selections than ever before.

RSL has managed to bring in many young or inexperienced players into the scene without denting the starting lineup.  It seems incredible that with all the roster movement Real has been through that we’ll most likely seeing the same starting lineup as last year for most of the season.  That could change, however, due to injuries.  That leads us to our next topic.

Injuries and absences were a MAJOR problem for Real Salt Lake last year.  Almost every article last season mentioned the “diversity” that RSL went through to the point that it got quite annoying for an avid RSL follower.  I’m not say it wasn’t true, it’s just that it got to the point that it almost seemed like an excuse.  It’s true that Real struggled to find points for big stretches and struggled with inconsistency, but Real did put good games together even with a thrown together lineup.  It was frustrating as a fan to watch.  My point is that RSL need to avoid a repeat of an injury filled season.  First priority should simply be to stay fit and stay injury-free, but let’s face it, Javi had absolutely nothing to do with being brutally tackled in the Chivas USA game.  You can’t plan ahead to avoid having your ankle broken like that.

But you never know.  All these new acquisitions have looked good for stretches in this preseason.  Maybe if we do end up face to face with long-term absences, the new guys will be able to step in well.  Jason Kries has already gone ahead and stated that Y. Alvarez is a perfect fill-in for when our captain Kyle Beckerman is unavailable.  This could happen frequently this season as Kyle is spending more and more time with the US National Team.  Also, guys like Schuler, Paulo, and Arnoux that haven’t played very consistently is seasons past are going to be expected to really step in for the first team this year.