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!
All of the offseason has built up to today. Everything kicks off tonight against the LA Galaxy. But what can we expect from Real? And what about LA? Reports show that neither team will play their strongest line-up.
LA played Wednesday against Toronto in a dramatic CCL quarterfinal. They’ll be playing the second leg this coming week. Because every team wants to do what RSL did and is trying to copy their success that almost won it all (go as far as possible in the Champions League) the Galaxy will be resting several starters. Who they rest and for how much of the game is up in the air though. We could see Landycakes and Becks playing a full 90.
RSL, on the other hand will not be playing all its starters due to an injury dilemma that has carried on from last season to now. Luckily for Real fans, the injuries seem to be healing up. And unless more players get injured we should be seeing a full-strength RSL squad in a month. It’s been a long time since that’s happened. At least for any substantial amount of time. Real had their starting XI against Seattle in the first leg of the playoffs last season. And we destroyed them with a clobbering 3-0. But, we saw our centerbacks pick up some injuries that still haven’t been entirely shaken off.
Will Johnson will not start for sure. He went to Germany to have a sports hernia surgery. Instead of rejoining Real Salt Lake when he planned to, he took the advice of fellow Canadian and MLSer Pat Onstad and stayed in Germany for an extra recovery day. Borchers is not expected to see any time on the pitch either.
Some players that you most likely will see in their limited time are Alvaro Saborio, who’s birthday is coming up (See Upcoming Events), and Javi Morales. Both may start, but with their knocks still healing, neither should be expected to go a full 90. I’d guess that if we had a two goal lead at half time, both Javi and Sabo would go off. I’m not predicting any lead like that though and I think that they’ll each play 50-70 minutes.
So all in all, we should see some faces that weren’t present on the team last year in the Real Salt Lake line-up. We can only hope for the best and support our team to the end. make sure to watch it on channel 4 at 8:30 tonight!