Archive | April 2012

Preview: Rapids come to Salt Lake to challenge for the RMC

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Photo Credit: smackdowntay (smackdowntay.blogspot.com)

There’s been a lot of hype leading up to tonight’s Rocky Mountain showdown.  Let me tell you, I’ve got some RMC fever of my own right now!  But this article is about the game itself with its dramatic twists and turns that will shape out the eventual winner of the first leg of the Rocky Mountain Cup.

This game comes at sort of an awkward stretch for Real.  The claret and cobalt are playing their third game in a rather crucial beginning-of-the-season eight day stretch.  RSL are coming off of a glorious late comeback against a strong attacking side after suffering a devastating 1-0 home loss to Chivas, and then returning to the RioT to squeeze past expansion team Montreal with a one goal win.

Real Salt Lake’s play has definitely not been stellar.  But signs of an end to underachievement seem to show that tonight could be the night that RSL come’s in blasting.

Colorado is in somewhat of a different ship.  The Rapids, like RSL, came off to a blazing start to begin the 2012 MLS season.  They were doing great, creating lots of scoring chances, until they were blown out 4-1 at Red Bull Arena by New York, who hadn’t won a game until then.  The Rapids returned to their home to defeat Chicago 3-1.  Talk about bouncing back!

Now they’re traveling to the famed and feared fortress of Rio Tinto, one of the hardest venues to play at in MLS (according to defender Nat Borchers and MLS coaches in general according to MLSsoccer.com).

Real suffered to lightning fast injuries against Montreal.  Midfield stalwart Ned Grabavoy dislocated a rib from the impact of a collision and Javi Morales suffered a hamstring strain.  (Why can’t he just stay healthy!?)  At first, the news of who’d be missing was a blow to the RSL community, but recent news from the training ground of our second-string players performing exceptionably has given confidence to concerned fans.

But RSL should be starting a very strong, almost starting XI, lineup.  Expect Luis Gil to slot into Javi’s attacking midfield position, and don’t be surprised if young gun Sebastian Velasquez gets another start for the claret and cobalt clad on the wing in for Grabavoy.

As always, make sure to get yourself down to the RioT early for this one!  Our team’s going to need our support!

(Also make sure to print off this card: http://www.realsaltlake.com/sites/saltlake/files/Racism-Red-Card.png, its to be held up after the national anthem to support getting rid of racism in soccer.)

LET’S GO REAL!!!

DEBATE: The Rocky Mountain Cup

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Photo Credit:  smackdowntay  (smackdowntay.blogspot.com)

Under the Crossbar just posted the second-ever debate post.  This one focused on the rivalry with Colorado and the importance of the Rocky Mountain Cup.  I participated in the debate.  Go ahead and check it out! http://underthecrossbar.com/debate/debate-does-rocky-mountain-cup-still-matter

Rocky Mountain Cup: The ins and outs of the 2012 edition

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Photo Credit: smackdowntay (smackdowntay.blogspot.com)

This year’s installment of the Rocky Mountain Cup rivalry between RSL and the Rapids has the potential to be very high-strung and controversial due to changes across the league.

First off:  The internal drama.  Supporters throughout the Real Salt Lake community have had very mixed reactions to Mark Miller Subaru sponsoring the RMC this season.  The whole issue behind it is that the cup was originally founded and payed for by fans and supporters groups.  The idea of a sponsorship didn’t come through these supporters.  In fact, they were completely unaware of it.  It seems to me that the Real Salt Lake front office found another way to make some money off of companies looking for an opportunity to sponsor RSL.  Some supporters are completely against it and say that the Rocky Mountain Cup simply shouldn’t be sponsored.  Some say that they’re fine with the sponsorship deal but they think that the front office should have negotiated with or alerted major supporters groups first and that some of the money from the deal should be dispersed among supporters groups.  Other fans are completely fine with the idea of a sponsorship on the RMC.

My opinion?  I’ve got some mixed feelings.  I really wish sponsorship was avoided on the RMC to keep it out of the commercial world.  But if there is going to be a money-making deal, I believe some of that money should be given out to the people who brought the Rocky Mountain Cup into existence in the first place.  But my opinion doesn’t really matter in the end, does it?

A little more controversy is added to the competition due to this season’s unbalanced schedule that has Real slated against the Colorado (cRapids) three times, two at the RioT and one in Commerce City.  Now, I’m all happy about this advantage at our fortress, but as you might expect, Colorado fans aren’t too happy with their team’s disadvantage.  Nothing can be done about this.  All Rapid fans can do is complain for now.  But if we still are playing an unbalanced schedule come next season, Colorado will be the club hosting their rival two times out of three.

Play wise, expect strong, hot-blooded efforts from both sides.  Hopefully, Real can pick up its form from past matches.

Be sure to print out this card that supporters will be holding up around the stadium after the national anthem: http://www.rslroyalarmy.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Racism-Red-Card.pdf

See you at the RioT!

RSL vs MTL 4/4/12

Real Salt Lake downs expansion side Montreal

Recap: Real Salt Lake takes three points from 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!

RSL FOREVER!

Preview: Real Salt Lake returns to the RioT to take on Montreal

Our claret and cobalt clad boys return home to the recently breached fortress to take on expansion side Montreal Impact tonight.  Expect another sell-out crowd because this game was one of those featured as part of the Pass of all Passes.  Hopefully RSL can go against its historic record of generally struggling in front of bigger crowds and pull out a result against struggling and hungry Montreal.

Montreal represents a threat very similar to the Chivas USA side that Real Salt Lake fell to two weeks ago.  The Impact are generally regarded as a weak team across the league that’s really trying to find their first win of the 2012 season.  However, I think that Chivas did have more of an advantage than Montreal will because former RSL assistant coach Robin Fraser is now the head honcho at CD Chivas USA and if anyone knows how to beat Real, it’s him.

However, Real CANNOT let their guard down tonight.  Montreal has played very well for spells of time.

Real may be resting some starters tonight so that they can be rested and 100% for Saturday’s rivalry clash with fellow Rocky Mountaineers Colorado Rapids.

So basically, Real should be able to lock down three points tonight with ease.  But then again, that’s what was expected when the Goats came to town.  There should be plenty of chances tonight, it’s all about who makes the most of them.

GO REAL!

Player Spotlight: Cody Arnoux – Part 1

Cody Arnoux is an interesting prospect for Real Salt Lake.  He represents boatloads of potential but always seems to get snagged back by something.  It makes one wonder that if he can just get his first goal, his first shot on target, or even just his first start, could he become the spectacular player that impressed while trialing with the prestigious Premier League’s Everton FC in England.

Arnoux gained passage to RSL after they won his rights in one of those MLS lotteries that Real seem to win a lot no matter the odds.  (Has anyone else noticed that over the years?)  However, Cody joined RSL in 2011 carrying an injury that kept him sidelined throughout the majority of the season.  He only made two very brief appearances that accumulated to only 69 minutes.  He came on as a late substitution later in the season at Rio Tinto Stadium and was then subbed in at Vancouver’s BC Place in a 3-0 defeat for the Royals.

Cody Arnoux was subbed into the Vancouver match along with fellow injury-plagued forward Chris Argorsor.  Both didn’t make appearances for Real Salt Lake until very late into 2011.  The two strikers’ future at Rio Tinto was in doubt after their small impact for the team.  Their only chance in staying was on their continued health and valid potential.

During the preseason, Argorsor, who was once ranked as a top prospect for the USMNT was dropped from Real’s roster.  Real decided to renew Cody’s contract for the 2012 season.  This season is his second chance.

The preseason was decent for Cody Arnoux.  He received significant amounts of time during Desert Diamond Cup fixtures but struggled in front of goal.  His shots always seemed slightly rushed.  I recall one instance in which he was just inside the opponent’s penalty area and had room for a solid shot, instead of taking it he cut back into the path of his two defenders and pulled off a good shot, he was just in the wrong position.  It ended up ricocheting off of a defenders body and missing on the outside of the front post.

Besides that, his build-up and creativity were great.  Maybe one of the biggest things holding him back from the first team is his ability to defend.  Jason Kreis puts a lot of emphasis on EVERYONE defending, starting with the forwards.

The career path of Cody Arnoux is a very unique one indeed.  He was born in Stony Brooks, New York and grew up in Wilmington, North Caroline.  Arnoux participated in club and high school soccer throughout his childhood and adolescence.  He even played for the U15 and U18 United States National Team sides.  After high school, Cody took his soccer to Wake Forest for college.  He enjoyed fantastic success at the college level and decided to trial with Everton FC rather than join the MLS Superdraft.

Everton was impressed with Cody’s performance at his trial and signed him.  He featured for Everton’s reserve side and scored in several games.  Despite his marginal success, Everton dropped him the next season.

Arnoux decided to bring his game back to America, where he’d been so prominent.  He joined the Vancouver Whitecaps when they were still a USSF D-2 Pro-League side.  He was then featured in the special lottery that RSL picked him up in.

Cody’s been through a lot and it comes at no surprise that he has struggled settling in.  I believe that if he’s given the opportunity to shine when he’s ready (hopefully this season) that he could do great things for Real Salt Lake.

Good luck Cody!

ONWARD RSL!

RSL @ POR 3/31/12

Real Salt Lake win a thriller at JELD-WEN!

Recap: RSL @ POR

WHAT A GAME!!!  You don’t see that very often!  Real Salt Lake got it done at the JELD-WEN Field against the Portland Timbers winning in style 3-2.   Both teams held the lead and both teams came from behind.

Real started off the first half with a strong line-up and were able to hold together good spells of possession.  However, RSL seemed to have some trouble in front of the Timbers’ goal.  That all changed in the 39th minute when midfielder Ned Grabavoy collected the ball at the top of the 18-yard box.  He turned into the penalty area only to have a Portland defender stop the progress of the ball with his outstretched hand.  Alvaro Saborio calmly converted the penalty kick to score his first goal of this season in his first start.

Momentum suddenly switched in the second half with two fantastic strikes from second-year Portland player Darlington Nagbe.  Real was struggling without much time left on the clock.

Jason Kreis saw the need for change and subsequently inserted Will Johnson for Luis Gil and later threw in Jonny Steele and Fabian Espindola for Tony Beltran and Paulo Jr.  Those three final subs may well have won the game for RSL.

As the rain drenched the turf of JELD-WEN in the 89th minute, Real Salt Lake found just enough space to play in a packed Portland penalty area.  Jonny Steele made a quick run across the top of the box and played a quick wall pass with fellow substitute Will Johnson and slotted the ball past a diving Troy Perkins.  Steele leveled up the score at 2-2 in only his third substitute appearance for Real Salt Lake.  Steele is yet to start a game and hasn’t been given enough time to really find opportunities.  Don’t be surprised if that changes!  Jonny Steele showed what he can do for this club and I can guarantee that he’ll find himself with a lot more playing time throughout the remainder of the 2012 season.

But that wasn’t the end of the drama!  In the final minute of stoppage time, third and final substitute Fabian Espindola found some space on the left side of the attacking third.  He quickly spotted Kyle Beckerman and played a beautiful chip-pass over the heads of Portland Timber defenders to the top of the penalty area where Beckerman called Steele off the ball and pounded a perfectly timed volley into the bottom corner of the net.

And that was that!  A 3-2 victory for the claret and cobalt!  This was a perfect way to bounce back from the 1-0 home loss to Chivas USA.

Next up, Real features against expansion side Montreal at Rio Tinto Stadium in what should be a great contest!

GO RSL!!!