Photo Credit: smackdowntay (smackdowntay.blogspot.com)
Real Salt Lake have come to expect drama to the final whistle this season. Late goals have always been a dominant characteristic of RSL. This season has been jam-packed with them. And the cool thing is, they’re not all coming from starters. Lots of them are either built-up by, assisted by, or scored by substitutions. (Bravo coaching staff!)
I really believe it has to do with the belief that all the players have in the RSL Way. You never see Real falling back in the closing stages. You see them pressing forward, keeping possession to attack. It’s really great to watch, especially when the fans all know a goal is just around the corner. The atmosphere inside Rio Tinto Stadium becomes electric. It’s really fantastic.
So, out of all those late-drama goals, which ones had a substitute involved in them?
You can go back to Real’s first fixture of the season against the Galaxy. Javier Morales was subbed in with about 10 or 15 minutes remaining in the match. He came in and scored a scrappy goal to help lift RSL to a 3-1 victory over the defending MLS Cup champions.
Skip a few games and you have our memorable night in Portland. With not much time left on the clock and down a goal. Things weren’t looking to good for Real. Then substitutes Will Johnson and Jonny Steele were brought in and became immediate gamechangers and heroes for Real Salt Lake. Jonny got the ball on the right side of the field where he cut across and into Troy Perkins’ box. He played a quick combo with fellow substitute Johnson and calmly sent keeper Perkins the wrong direction and put the ball into the back of the onion bag. Steele came into play again on the last goal in that match to win it late. Fabian Espindola sent a perfect chip up to the top of the box. Steele was there, but instead of going for the brace, he let it go to a screaming Kyle Beckerman who sent a one-touch crack into the bottom corner of the net. The two seem to know how to play off each other pretty well.
For the next late goal by a substitute, you only need to look at the game against Dallas. Substitute Emiliano Bonfigli scored within three minutes of coming onto the pitch in his Real Salt Lake debut to level the score at ones.
Our boy Jonny Steele came back to break some Toronto FC hearts last Saturday. This time he called for the lay-off from our captain Kyle Beckerman and scored a beauty from outside the box to win the game 3-2 in extra time.
So what is it about the subersubs? Why do the substitutes score?
Let me tell you, as a sub, especially if you’re fighting for minutes, every little touch and run is absolutely crucial. Those players are pumped and will fight to the last gasp to make a good impression and make a positive difference. Also the guys just have more energy. Everyone else on the field has got tired legs. That’s why you see a guy like Emi Bonfigli blazing past defenders.
It really comes down to the guts of the sub and the opportunity that he finds himself and how hard he works for it.
THE TEAM IS THE STAR
RSL’s captain talk about what being a captain is.