Real Salt Lake downs expansion side Montreal
On Wednesday Real Salt Lake played a sub-par performance and were still able to down expansion club Montreal Impact 1-0 on a Paulo Jr. penalty kick.
The game was a really weird one to observe. The play was far too choppy for Real. They seemed to gain possession, string three or four passes together and then lose the ball. The overall choppiness had a lot to do with all of the fouls committed by Montreal (who has committed more fouls than any other MLS team this season) in the middle of the pitch. But, truth be told, RSL’s passing was lackluster at best. What exactly was wrong is hard to diagnose. Salt Lake players and coach Jason Kreis all admitted to a bad performance but emphasized that three points are three points no matter how they are earned and that every team goes through poor performances and that all will be well come Saturday’s Rocky Mountain Cup clash.
The game started fairly well for Real. They were able to move the ball forward aside from a few uncharacteristic bad passes in the defensive third. In the thirteenth minute, Jonny Steele whipped in a streaking cross that Will Johnson met with a diving header. The ball that was directed to the far inside netting of the goal was blocked by for SLC resident and Skyline High School graduate Justin Braun, winning RSL its second penalty drawn by a hand ball in as many games.
Paulo Jr. confidently slotted the ball home to the bottom right corner of the net where it was just out of reach of Montreal keeper Ricketts outstretched gloves. It was Paulo’s first goal of the season and his first since Real Salt Lake’s 2-0 win at New England last year.
The rest of the game was really iffy from Real. Fabian Espindola probably struggled the most. He squandered several great opportunities in front of goal with a bad touch or a shot to the stands.
The game represented several debuts of different sorts by RSL players. Terukazu Tanaka was given his first match and start in a Real Salt Lake uniform and played the full ninety minutes. He seemed real shaky to start off the match but grew more comfortable as time went on. I was a little nervous watching him play because he seems like he’s always a little out of control, almost like he’s tipping over. He really is a fun fullback to watch because he’s so involved in the attack. About midway through the first half he played and excellent combination up the wing that was the recipient of quite a few oohs and ahhs. Jason Kreis mentioned after the game that Tanaka did well in the attack but needed to work on being tactically aware in the back.
Jonny Steele and Will Johnson (the two that connected to force the PK) got their first starts of the season after great performances in the final minutes of the game up in Portland. I noticed Steele had gotten new cleats: the latest red and blue colorway of the adizero. I for one liked the look of the boots Jonny sported against the Timbers. It was great to see him switch back to his previous kicks at half time.
Overall, RSL needs to improve on its performance to put in a good bid for a vital three points against our rivals on the other side of the Rockies. I for one think that they will be ready by Saturday. Let’s hope!