I’d say that Real did well to control the game and keep the ball. The only two instances that the Galaxy enjoyed enough possession in the final third to really attack RSL hard were around the twenty-seventh minute, when Landon Donovan sent a rocket against the crossbar and Mike Magee tried our a bicycle kick, and in the dying moments of the game, when they pressed and pressed and forced some spectacular saves by Rimando and the defense.
LA Galaxy coach Bruce Arena took the blame for his team’s loss, but honestly, I believe that RSL simply knocked the Galaxy out with their 3 late goals and LA had nothing left in the tank to fight back with. If LA is so focused on Champions League play, then why would they put a full-strength line-up on the field against Real Salt Lake in a game that only accounts for 3.something percent of the season. They wouldn’t. Arena thought that this game against Real was more important than his upcoming CCL clash with Toronto. And that’s why he played his starters instead of resting them. They simply failed. No excuses.
The RSL youngsters that featured in the match did quite well. Chris Schuler was very solid across the backline aside from a really bad pass to Chris Wingert in the second half and a missed attempt to get a cross out of the danger area. He fit in well, but I wasn’t quite as impressed with his performance last night as I was with his preseason performance. Sebastian Velasquez was the very opposite. In the preseason he played well I thought, but I didn’t think he was really mature enough for the first team. He proved me wrong. Very wrong. He was a standout player on the field. He performed so well that I am absolutely positive that he will be starting for RSL for good stretches throughout the season. I think he’s a guy that could end up being an RSL great in the future if he stays with the club.
Ha ha! Oh, David Beckham! He always makes me laugh when he plays against Real! He is so lethal in the attacking third, yet he seems to lapse at just the right moment on defense and ends up getting scored on! Look at Real’s home opener last year. When Morales scored his wonderstrike from outside the penalty area, Beckham, who was supposedly marking Javi, was simply staring into space and not paying attention at all. Watch the highlights of that 4-1 win on youtube.com. On Javier’s goal, the camera will show a dazed Beckham realizing that Morales is running past him! And then last night. Again on Javier Morales’ scrappy goal, David was caught way behind the play after screaming at the official, Kevin Stott.
Well, overall RSL played well. And they also got the result they were looking for!
The boys accomplished mission impossible last night at the Home Depot Center. RSL pulled through against the LA Galaxy in a spectacular late comeback to win their third Californian season opener in a row with a score of 3-1.
The analysts over at mlssoccer.com made predictions of the outcomes of all the games going on this weekend. Of the six or seven analysts, not one picked Real Salt Lake to beat the defending champs. Three picked LA to win and the rest predicted a draw. This is one of my favorite parts of the RSL culture: thriving off of the underdog position. Real has taken that to the max over the last few seasons, defying odds and winning. Even winning the MLS Cup with everyone betting against them in 2009. Since then, Real Salt Lake has been a very strong team recognized for its attractive style of play. And in many cases, it is the favorite. But the most memorable and dramatic games always come in a situation when RSL aren’t the expected winners. The RSL motto, “Fortune Favors The Bold” is a perfect fit for the team.
Real started the game boldly, but not overzealous. They were able to keep great portions of possession and string passes through the holes in the Galaxy’s positioning. They created several chances, but seemed to be to anxious to put them away. Defensively, Real seemed to send defenders one by one at the attacking team hoping to shut down the push toward goal. When LA was able to bring the ball into a position where they could swerve it into the box, RSL seemed to pack the box with players. Near the end of the first half the Galaxy tested Rimando with some long-range strikes that rattled against the crossbar.
In my opinion, Real was lucky not to concede in the first half, but also unlucky to not have capitalized on their opportunities. The second half was much more explosive with both teams taking more and more chances as the match waned. Those risks eventually took their toll on the LA defense.
The Galaxy took the lead via a David Beckham cross to Edson Buddle who happily headed home the goal after getting between Schuler and Olave. But just two minutes later the score was evened back up after some tricky play from our rookie Sebastian Velasquez on the sideline followed by a cross that ended up in the back of the net after ricocheting off of an LA Galaxy defender. RSL took that momentum and used it to score two more late goals by Javier Morales and Fabian Espindola to win it 3-1.
After the game Velasquez recounted his goal, “I was on the right side so as soon as I got the ball I knew I had to cut to my left. The first time I did I rolled over the ball and then I cut it back and just hit a cross. I really didn’t see the goal but what I saw was the defender was on the ground and the keeper had his hands up so I knew something had happened and that is how I realized it had gone in.”
What a fantastic start to the season for Real! My respect goes to all the fans that were willing and able to travel down to see our boys play!
We’re Here For RSL!