Archive | May 2012

RSL disgraced at home in the US Open Cup

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Photo Credit: smackdowntay (smackdowntay.blogspot.com)

That was absolutely unacceptable.  A team of Real Salt Lake’s caliber should be able to take down a lower division team.  But any team can win on any day.  Minnesota came out to play and Salt Lake came out and played one of the poorest matches in the team’s history.  You think I’m exaggerating?  I was there.  I’ve never seen so many opportunities shanked away, I’ve never seen that many awful passes and bad touches and selfish play in an RSL game.

Sure, you can say it was our reserves.  It was.  But didn’t our reserve team dismantle a New England first team on the road last year 2-0?  This all goes back to saying one of Real Salt Lake’s mottoes, “Fortune favors the bold.”  Real didn’t play to their own philosophy, they weren’t very bold in anything they did.  Instead of linking up and moving forward as a team when things got tough, players started trying to beat as many opponents as they could on one dribble and eventually lose the ball.

There really wasn’t a bright spot on our team.  Olave had an especially rough game.  He had several clear-cut headers that would’ve easily been nodded in on another day ricochet of his head and out of bounds.  His terrible touch on a pass back to him led to the goal that sealed the game for the Minnesota Stars.

There’s really not much to say about this game.  I know that’s not how my claret and cobalt play.  It looks now as if that game was a hiccup stuck in the middle of an incredibly strong season.  I have no right to complain.  My team’s first in MLS!  Also, half the other MLS teams lost their US Open Cup games too!  As long as this doesn’t lead to more ugly showings in the future, Real should be just fine.

The match was a match meant to be forgotten in Salt Lake and always remembered in Minnesota.

LET’S GO REAL SALT LAKE!!!

RSL vs FCD 5/26/12

Real pull out a dramatic 3-2 victory at the RioT

Recap: RSL dismantles Dallas in scrappy match

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Photo Credit: smackdowntay (smackdowntay.blogspot.com)

It was just one of those games any diehard RSL fan will always remember, similar to the 3-2 win in Portland and the 3-2 win against Toronto FC, this one ended late with the atmosphere absolutely maxed out.

Over 19,000 fans held their breath until the final whistle after 5 goals in the second half of a windy, chippy game between Real Salt Lake and FC Dallas.  The first half was marred by scrappy play in which neither team could possess the ball in the final third.  The wind was really ripping from the south and definitely affected the play.  The real bright spot for Real in the first half was Yordany Alvarez’s great performance.  His passing was excellent and was able to win and hold possession.

After going into the break without a tally on the scoreboard for either team the play really opened up in the second half.  RSL was able to take the 1-0 advantage over Dallas courtesy of a clinical cross by outside back Tanaka and a clean header by Sabo.  FC Dallas was able to tie it on an iffy goal.  There was a scramble in the box and it seemed as if Real had just survived the onslaught when it appeared that backup goalie Kyle Reynish made a save on the line.  However, the sideline referee said the ball crossed the line entirely and called a goal.  Real Salt Lake responded immediately though and scored just two minutes later.  Saborio doubled the score for Real with a shot that ricocheted off of a Dallas defender and beat Kevin Hartman on the near post.  This was the crucial point of the match.  It was then that goalkeeper Kyle Reynish was caught off his game when Blas Perez rocketed a shot right at him that deflected off of his outstretched hands and into the back of the net.  It looked as though Dallas might get their point at Rio Tinto, but RSL fans believed to the end and were rewarded when Nat Borchers, the White Rhino, hit the postage stamp of the net with his strike in the 92nd minute.

I’m all fine with winning the games late, as long as we win it.  Let’s just hope this drama doesn’t turn tides and start going the wrong way.  But I’ll take it when it’s here.

IF YOU BELIEVE THEN JUST STAND UP ON YOUR FEET!

Preview: Struggling FC Dallas visits RSL at the RioT

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Photo Credit:  smackdowntay (smackdowntay.blogspot.com)

It sure feels good to finally have a home game!  After a long absence at Rio Tinto Stadium, Real Salt Lake are finally returning to home sweet home.  They’re back to take on Dallas, who they battled to a 1-1 draw earlier this season in Texas.  That was a good result considering our claret and cobalt are still yet to win in Texas.  But today is all about winning.  Anything less won’t be enough.  Real fell out of first place in the league after San Jose beat LA 3-2 and climbed a point ahead on the table with the same number of games played.  So a win is all Real Salt Lake should really go for.

As most of you have probably heard or noted, FC Dallas is struggling a lot right now.  They’ve been winless in their last 8 games.  They’re looking for any kind of result they can get today because they know how hard it is to beat Real Salt Lake on their home turf.

RSL will be facing some injury issues along with USMNT call-ups today and will be forced to test their depth.  Kyle Beckerman and Nick Rimando are off playing with the national team against Scotland.  Their replacements will be Kyle Reynish between the posts where he already has one shutout this season and Yordany Alvarez who has been labeled as a perfect fill-in for our captain Kyle Beckerman.

Injury-wise Real runs into problems in their back line.  Both Chris Wingert and Chris Schuler aren’t expected to make an appearance in today’s match.  So one could probably expect Japanese fullback Terukazu Tenaka to step in and start his second match of the season.  He looked shaky against Montreal when he got his first start.  Hopefully he’ll be able to play much more calmly and collected tonight if he’s called upon to play.  Javier Morales is also questionable for tonight, so expect youngster Luis Gil to step in and fill in the space at the top of the midfield diamond.

That’s all for today folks!

WE’RE HERE FOR RSL!!!

RSL @ SEA 5/12/12

RSL gets a vital 1-0 road win in Seattle

Preview: RSL walks into Seattle going for it all

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Photo Credit:  smackdowntay (smackdowntay.blogspot.com)

Tonight our claret and cobalt clad boys take on the Seattle Sounders, one of the teams just behind us in the Western Conference.  Not only that, but we’re first in the overall MLS standings for those of you who don’t know, and Seattle and San Jose are only a point behind us and Kansas City is only two behind us.  We’ve got quite a few games in hand, so we really need to pick up our pace if we want to keep our lead.  But then again, our focus is CONCACAF again.

Aside from standings, this is a pretty big match-up for both sides.  The Seattle vs RSL game has become pretty big over the years.  Almost a rivalry.  But not quite yet.  Seattle players went as far as saying the game has bad blood.  I guess we’ll find out tonight!

The Sounders are riding a 5-game winning streak into this game.  Real has struggled a little bit lately.  They are coming off a scoreless draw against the Fire in Chicago.  A win for RSL could really put the Salt Lake back on track in style and would knock back Seattle in what would be one of those six point games.

Javi is out for this one as he’s still on a little recovery from an injury sustained in Chicago.  He’ll be missed.  But he’s not irreplaceable.

This one’s up in the air tonight!

GO RSL!!!

RSL @ CHI 5/9/12

Real Salt Lake and the Chicago Fire battle to a 0-0 draw

RSL’s success with young players

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Photo Credit:  smackdowntay (smackdowntay.blogspot.com)

When it comes down to draft picks and young signings, Real Salt Lake seem to be very reserved.  Yet they produce spectacular players.  And then again, you hear a lot more rave reviews about other MLS team’s young guns.  So what’s up with our young players?  Why have ours been so great lately?  All of that and more in this post!

Real Salt Lake was never a team that picked up amazing youth players and draft picks until very recently.  They spent their first overall pick on defender Nick Besagno, who as you can tell, really amounted to nothing.  He hardly played in his seasons with the team and was eventually waived by the club.  In the next few years they picked up many players who didn’t turn up anything useful to the team.  However, RSL was able to find one diamond among the rough when they picked up defender Tony Beltran.  Since then he’s become a starter, fan favorite, and one of the most notable outside defenders with the ability to make outside runs on the attack in MLS.

It really wasn’t until the 2010 MLS Superdraft that Real made some good choices and ended up with some great standout players.  That year they drafted Jean Alexander, Collen Warner, Rawshawn McKenzie, and Chris Schuler.  They all played more than was expected in their rookie season.  McKenzie was later waived, Jean Alexander was traded, and first round pick Warner was lost in the expansion draft to Montreal.  All Real is left with from that draft is their third round choice Chris Schuler, who has really impressed and has become a challenger for the starting position in center back this season.

It was in 2010 that Real Salt Lake was able to trade for 16-year-old standout Luis Gil after Kansas City gained his rights in a lottery.  This may live down as one of the biggest moves RSL ever made in their short history.  Real was originally criticized for not giving the young guy any time in his first season in Salt Lake.  He spent most of his time being trained and being loaned out to second-tier teams.  He’s obviously moved on from that and made his mark.  But believe me, at the tender age of 18, Luis still has a lot left in him and he’ll definitely improve more and more over the years.

The 2011 Superdraft wasn’t very eventful for Real.  They traded away most of their picks and the only guys they picked up were sent home from the preseason camp.

Luckily for RSL fans, Real had an amazing 2012 MLS Superdraft.  Former player-turned-scout Andy Williams ranked the college guys he saw at the combine and Real ended up taking Enzo Martinez, the man that occupied Andy’s top spot with their first round pick, the 7th overall pick.  It was amazing to most that Enzo even dropped that low!  Enzo will probably end up a lot like Gil.  He’ll be a project player his first season and he’ll hopefully start making an impact inf the following years.  The second round pick didn’t really go anywhere.  Diogo De Almedia didn’t end up being a very good fit for RSL.  The club waived him and picked up Chris Estridge in Diogo’s place.  The third round draft pick ended up being a huge one once again for Real.  They picked up the unknown superstar, Sebastian Velasquez, a junior college player.  He was only the second junior college player to ever be selected in the Superdraft.  (The first was Yura Movsisyan, a very notable former RSL forward.)  With their Supplemental Draft pick, Real selected Emiliano Bonfigli, a young player who has played professionally in South and Central America.  He’s ended up being pretty good for Real.  I honestly think he could break in to the starting lineup in a year or so.

I believe that the reason that RSL’s younger players have been doing so fantastic lately isn’t so much to do with their skill (although that is a huge a factor) but rather the way they fit so well into the “RSL Way” and how the coaching staff is careful with bringing them in.

I also think that one of the biggest factors in Real’s recent ability to sign such great and young players is their choice to take risks where other MLS teams really haven’t dared to.  They don’t pick the biggest college guys, they pick guys that sometimes just haven’t had the same opportunities all the college players have had and are looking for a chance to shine and will do anything they can to get to the top stage.

WE’RE HERE FOR RSL!!!

Real Salt Lake snatches a 2-1 win over New England

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Photo Credit:  smackdowntay (smackdowntay.blogspot.com)

If you’re counting the number of chances on goal, Real Salt Lake absolutely pummeled the New England Revolution.  Real really jumped straight through the gaping holes in the Revolution back line early in the match and could have been up two goals in the first 10 minutes.  However, RSL’s forwards seemed to choke and the NE netminder kept everything out of the goal.

New England surprised everyone against the run of play in the 22nd minute of play.  Real had just had a chance at the edge of the Revolution’s penalty area when the ball was cleared out and central midfielder Shalrie Joseph played a ball through to Black Brettshneider.  Brettshneider beat defenders Jamison Olave and Tony Beltran far too easily with one sharp cut and hammered the ball into the back of the net past the outstretched Nick Rimando.

The ball never should have gotten past those two RSL defenders.  Jamison over committed to his right side way too hard and Beltran had just arrived at the scene after dashing the length of the field to catch up with the Revolution forward and didn’t have enough time to position himself defensively.

Fortunately for RSL, they were able to equalize the game as the end of the first half neared.  Kyle Beckerman collected the ball at the right corner of the field and fired a cross into the mixture of players with his eyes in the sun.  The ball took a few bounces, one of which struck Alvaro Saborio’s outstretched right arm.  The ref completely missed the call and Sabo was able to pound the ball underneath the bulk of the players and into the open net.

The second half started well for Real Salt Lake.  Early into it, Morales drew a fowl outside the 18-yard box.  He took the freekick and placed it on the head of an unmarked, diving Saborio, who smashed it into the far side of the net.  He celebrated by hopping over the advertisement boards and slapping the flag of his home country, Costa Rica.

Saborio has been under a lot of pressure lately from fans.  There’s really not much they can complain about from the forward after he puts in two goals in one game.

His partner, Fabian Espindola (whose wife just gave birth to their first child), had more than enough golden opportunities to score on, but wasn’t able to finish.  I honestly don’t blame him too much.  He’d missed training the day before and, believe it or not, one on one situations are a lot harder than you think.  Most of his one on one goals this year have gone right through the legs of unlucky goalkeepers.  At that point you usually just want to hammer it hard and low.  Sometimes the keeper gets something on it and sometimes he doesn’t.  That’s soccer.

After the goals both teams were handed ejections.  Will Johnson went in for a dangerous tackle and probably deserved the red card.  But the inexperienced center official didn’t send him off.  He gave him a yellow card.  It was the sideline official on the far side of the field that actually came on the pitch and told the center ref to give Will a straight red.  The red card given out to New England was on a challenge that probably wasn’t red card worthy.  In fact, the Revolution player tried to avoid the challenge by lowering his foot.  If that’s not poor officiating I don’t know what is.

The game ended a lot more tense than RSL would have liked.  They really haven’t had an easy victory this season.  Jason Kreis was quoted after the game saying that he’d like to be able to relax at a home game sooner or later and enjoy the show.  Trust me Jason, us fans agree.  But truth be told, the games are a lot more action packed and national TV must be realizing how much their missing after stiffing RSL this season.

Either way, a win’s a win in the end.  Three points and now we’re tied for first place in the league with San Jose!

ONWARD RSL!!!

RSL vs NER

Real downs New England 2-1