Archive | June 3, 2012

Back to basics for the claret and cobalt

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Photo Credit: smackdowntay (smackdowntay.blogspot.com)

“For us, coming off a performance that we had in our last match, it is important for us to remind the group, ourselves included, of what we are about and how we have success.  For me, that starts with long, hard practices.”

Above is a recent quote from RSL head coach Jason Kries.  It reminds players, staff, and fans alike, that hard work is the trademark of Real Salt Lake soccer.

Real hasn’t truly played its natural free-flowing style with quick interchanges with the ball between several players in tight spaces, attack from the wings, or all of its high ambitions this year.  But regardless, they’ve been winning games.  Lots of them haven’t been pretty.  In fact, many of them were pretty ugly.  That’s why getting down to the fundamentals in this two week break is exactly what the doctor ordered.

A lot of things quite possibly could have attributed to Real not playing their beautiful soccer that they’ve been so well known for over the last couple of MLS seasons.  First off is the retirement of Andy Williams (Who I think deserves to have his number 77 retired).  He was spectacular for Salt Lake when it came down to working through small spaces packed with opposing players.  His crafty footwork enabled him to weave in and out and pass through defender’s legs.  Javi Morales has been missed quite a bit this season too.  Yes, he’s played, but not to his full potential.  He’s done well, and it’s great to see him coming back to full form.  I still believe he can become one of MLS’ greats one day.  He should be coming off his injury soon.  It’ll be great to have him back.

Aside from missing some key players, the only thing that’s changed to not allow the complete RSL Way to come into the effect is the integration of so many new players.  There hasn’t been this much of an overhaul for Real since 2008 or 2009, so one should expect things to take some time to settle down.

That’s what this window of training is for.  All of the players expected to make an impact this season have tasted the RSL flavor of soccer and will be wanting more.  Now is when the fundamentals that put the emphasis on team mottoes like “The Team is the Star” and “Fortune Favors the Bold” are pounded into the claret and cobalt clad athletes.

I for one expect Real to come out of this two week break brimming with confidence and booming with excitement to play their way.  I can only feverishly wait for our away fixture at Chivas USA.

(Oh yes, and don’t forget to give the Claretpapers a follow on Twitter and a like on Facebook!)

RSL 4 LIFE!!!

Real Salt Lake’s internationals

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Photo Credit: smackdowntay (smackdowntay.blogspot.com)

Several years ago, this article could never exist.  Real didn’t have players of the caliber of today’s squad.  We had some of the same players, but they hadn’t reached the national team level that they’re at today.

Over the past two years or so, many Real players have stepped into the international spotlight.  Some were brief stints, other players have had their stays extended.

Real Salt Lake is represented well on the US Men’s National team, especially compared to other MLS teams.  Youngster Luis Gil has become one of the shoe-in starters for the younger teams and is expected to blossom into a star for the United States.

On the senior team, Real’s got Kyle Beckerman and Nick Rimando that are called up for international duty for most fixtures featuring USA.  Since being brought back into the mix of players for the USMNT about two years ago, Kyle Beckerman has moved up the ranks and made his mark.  US Coach Jurgen Klinnsman is quite the fan of Kyle.  Since taking over as coach, our captain has enjoyed a lot more time commanding the US ranks from the central midfield position.  Kyle hasn’t exactly been a fan favorite on the national team.  Not all fans think he’s good enough to be playing at that level.  But Klinnsman obviously thinks Beckerman’s the right man for the job.  He said that Kyle is able to fill in the “number 6” position very effectively.  In other words, he’s able to shut down the opponents attack and distribute the ball out to the wings.  Kyle hasn’t gotten as much time lately as other players have stepped their game up.  But Kyle Beckerman also has his RSL business to deal with while the Americans abroad can put all their focus on their national team.

RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando has done well for the US national team.  He came into the player pool not long after Beckerman started representing the United States.  Rimando started in several friendlies and did quite well in net.  His time as a starter was rather temporary as Tim Howard, the regular starter, slipped right back into his place between the posts.  Since then, Nick has served as a strong back-up for the United States.

Unknown to many fans was the fact that Nat Borchers (Yes, our White Rhino) had some minutes for the US national team.  He played in the same games that Nick Rimando was starting in.  He didn’t make any earth-shattering mistakes or anything like that.  On the contrary, he played quite well if I remember correctly.  However, Nat hasn’t been called up to national duty since.

Real Salt Lake also features the likes of other players that represent their various nations at the international level.  You’ve got Will Johnson for Canada and Alvaro Saborio suiting up for Costa Rica.  Yordany Alvarez played for Cuba before he defected to the United States.  (See more on that story on the Player Profile I did on Alvarez!)  I seriously doubt he’ll ever play for them again.

Will Johnson has been a regular for the Canadian national team for quite a while now.  But he hasn’t played the roles that we RSL supporters are accustomed to.  He actually played up top as a forward for them around the time he came to Real Salt Lake.  I believe he’s shifted back into the midfield, but don’t hold me to that one.  He’ll be playing against the US national team and fellow RSL midfielder Kyle Beckerman tomorrow when the two nations square off for a World Cup Qualifier match.

Alvaro Saborio is a regular for the Costa Rican national team.  He’s represented his nation plenty of times and sent plenty of goals into the back of the net.  He used to be a fan favorite.  That all changed after the poor guy went through some seriously tough times.  He was with one of his friends and Costa Rica teammates when his friend died.  On that same outing with his national team he missed several clear-cut chances including a PK.  He wasn’t called up for the next string of international friendlies.  However, since then he has come back to his old form and the fans of Costa Rica are warming back up to him.

Don’t by any means expect this to be the end.  I can promise you that more and more RSL players will be moving into their respective national player pools in the coming years.  As Salt Lake gets better and better, its players will get noticed.

If you’ve got the time, check out the USA vs Canada match tomorrow!  It should be a cracker!  (And Canada will be debuting some really fresh-looking new uniforms!)

GO REAL SALT LAKE!!!