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Kwame Watson-Siriboe shines in RSL defense

Photo Credit: smackdowntay (smackdowntay.blogspot.com)

Kwame Watson-Siriboe.  I doubt any Real Salt Lake fan had even heard the unusual name before the Salt Lake club signed him thanks to assistant coach C.J. Brown’s special relationship with the young player.  He was drafted by the Chicago Fire several years ago.  Kwame hardly got any minutes of playing time in his first three seasons in MLS.  It was a rough start in professional soccer for Watson-Siriboe.  Luckily for RSL, C.J. Brown, a former Chicago man himself, took particular interest in the new player from the University of Connecticut.

The young defender grew up in Chino Hills, California.  While playing college soccer for UConn his senior year Kwame earned First Team All-Big East honors.  What went on at Chicago is somewhat of a mystery.  In the Fire’s coaching staff’s eyes, he must have been a player just waiting to make a breakthrough.  He was always good enough to stay on the roster, but never quite ready to really make the jump to the first team.  Either Chicago’s coaching staff was flat-out wrong, or being brought to Real Salt Lake was what it took for Kwame Watson-Siriboe to make the breakthrough that he’s waited for his whole career.

The ex-Chicago player chose to take on the number three on the back of his claret and cobalt jersey.  Whether he knew it or not, that number formerly belonged to Real defender Robbie Russel, who played a major part in the club’s history.  His conversion of his penalty kick in the 2009 MLS Cup gave Real Salt Lake the star above their crest.  The legacy could continue as Kwame finds his way deeper into the roots of the club’s system.  It’s really quite amazing the way he has been able to meld with the squad so quickly.  The RSL Way seems almost second nature to Watson-Siriboe.  He understands the role of a centerback clad in the Claret and Cobalt of Real Salt Lake.  He has a strong presence.  He’s solid, doesn’t let anything slip.  If the ball gets past him, the player doesn’t.  If the player gets past him, the ball doesn’t.

This role is especially crucial to fill for the club when looking into the future.  Our two regular centerbacks, Jamison Olave and Nat Borchers (dubbed “Borlave” by Matthew Montgomery) are aging.  As they age they grow more injury-prone and cost more to keep at the club.  In other words, it is very improbable for both to stay at the club for many more seasons.  Kwame Watson-Siriboe playing in his current form is exactly what RSL is in need of.  A very athletic and capable central defender that understands his role and is able to play it extremely well.

Kwame really showed better than anyone else on the pitch, from both sides, today as Real Salt Lake took on the Vancouver Whitecaps.  Despite how agitated I was as a supporter seeing my team unable to create goals and play beautiful soccer, I couldn’t help but smile upon the spectacular composure and dedication of the new defender.

Real Salt Lake should be proud of their acquisition of the former Chicago defender.  He has the potential to be one of the RSL greats.  I have faith in him and can only hope for the best and wait.

UPWARD AND ONWARD

-Ben Anderson

Player Spotlight: Cody Arnoux – Part 1

Cody Arnoux is an interesting prospect for Real Salt Lake.  He represents boatloads of potential but always seems to get snagged back by something.  It makes one wonder that if he can just get his first goal, his first shot on target, or even just his first start, could he become the spectacular player that impressed while trialing with the prestigious Premier League’s Everton FC in England.

Arnoux gained passage to RSL after they won his rights in one of those MLS lotteries that Real seem to win a lot no matter the odds.  (Has anyone else noticed that over the years?)  However, Cody joined RSL in 2011 carrying an injury that kept him sidelined throughout the majority of the season.  He only made two very brief appearances that accumulated to only 69 minutes.  He came on as a late substitution later in the season at Rio Tinto Stadium and was then subbed in at Vancouver’s BC Place in a 3-0 defeat for the Royals.

Cody Arnoux was subbed into the Vancouver match along with fellow injury-plagued forward Chris Argorsor.  Both didn’t make appearances for Real Salt Lake until very late into 2011.  The two strikers’ future at Rio Tinto was in doubt after their small impact for the team.  Their only chance in staying was on their continued health and valid potential.

During the preseason, Argorsor, who was once ranked as a top prospect for the USMNT was dropped from Real’s roster.  Real decided to renew Cody’s contract for the 2012 season.  This season is his second chance.

The preseason was decent for Cody Arnoux.  He received significant amounts of time during Desert Diamond Cup fixtures but struggled in front of goal.  His shots always seemed slightly rushed.  I recall one instance in which he was just inside the opponent’s penalty area and had room for a solid shot, instead of taking it he cut back into the path of his two defenders and pulled off a good shot, he was just in the wrong position.  It ended up ricocheting off of a defenders body and missing on the outside of the front post.

Besides that, his build-up and creativity were great.  Maybe one of the biggest things holding him back from the first team is his ability to defend.  Jason Kreis puts a lot of emphasis on EVERYONE defending, starting with the forwards.

The career path of Cody Arnoux is a very unique one indeed.  He was born in Stony Brooks, New York and grew up in Wilmington, North Caroline.  Arnoux participated in club and high school soccer throughout his childhood and adolescence.  He even played for the U15 and U18 United States National Team sides.  After high school, Cody took his soccer to Wake Forest for college.  He enjoyed fantastic success at the college level and decided to trial with Everton FC rather than join the MLS Superdraft.

Everton was impressed with Cody’s performance at his trial and signed him.  He featured for Everton’s reserve side and scored in several games.  Despite his marginal success, Everton dropped him the next season.

Arnoux decided to bring his game back to America, where he’d been so prominent.  He joined the Vancouver Whitecaps when they were still a USSF D-2 Pro-League side.  He was then featured in the special lottery that RSL picked him up in.

Cody’s been through a lot and it comes at no surprise that he has struggled settling in.  I believe that if he’s given the opportunity to shine when he’s ready (hopefully this season) that he could do great things for Real Salt Lake.

Good luck Cody!

ONWARD RSL!

Player Spotlight: Yordany Alvarez – Part 1

Today I start my first official series of posts: Player Spotlights!  I decided that people would enjoy learning more and more about their favorite players on the Real Salt Lake squad during midweek stretches like the one we are experiencing right now when news is sparse.  For each player I will first write up a part one post with general information ranging from their backround to stats.  I then hope to create a part two series in which I can personally interview each of the players.  Onto Yordany now!

Yordany Alvarez was born in Cienfuegos, Cuba, on May 24, 1985.  Not much if anything at all has been published about Y. Alvarez’ childhood in Cuba.  However, he played for his local professional club FC Cienfuegos.

Yordany featured for his native nation’s U-23 team.  In 2008, the night after a CONCACAF match-up against the United States Under-23 national team, Yordany along with six other Cuban teammates ran away from their team’s hotel and weren’t heard of for some time. He escaped first with a group of five Cubans.  The next day, two others followed suit.

After defecting to the United States, Alvarez was protected by the wet foot dry foot ruling that allows Cubans in the USA to obtain asylum.

Upon reaching the US, Yordany and two of his fellow defectors trialed with Los Angelas Galaxy.  None of them made the team.  Later in March of 2009 Alvarez attended the Austin Aztecs’ open tryout as they entered the USL First Division as an expansion team.  Yordany played the next two seasons with the Aztecs until they were relocated to Orlando City and rebranded as Orlando City S. C.  The Cuban finished out the 2011 season with his USL D1 side that ended up winning the title.  He was named MVP of the season.

Shortly after his great season with Orlando City Alvarez trialed with Real Salt Lake.  After impressing, he was signed to a loan agreement in a similar fashion to the way that Paulo Jr. got onto the RSL squad.

Alvarez was soon found to be a perfect replacement for starter and team captain Kyle Beckerman, whose absences are now much more frequent due to call-ups with the United States Men’s National Team.  During the recent off-season, Yordany signed a contract with Real.

I really didn’t quite understand all the praise Alvarez near the end of last season.  But during the preseason fixtures he was fantastic!  He was excellent at controlling the ball and redistributing it and making space for his teammates.  I was especially impressed with his vision.  At one point in the first Desert Diamond Cup game against New York there was a heap of players battling for possession of the ball just outside the New York 18-yard box.  Out of nowhere came Yordany Alvarez crashing through whatever was between him and the ball.  He sent a blistering strike just wide of the left post.  The NYRB netminder had no time to react.  I don’t think he even saw the ball until it was out of bounds.  For some reason it was at that moment that I knew he’d be a perfect fit for RSL.

Good luck to you, Mr. Alvarez this season!

REAL SALT LAKE!