Tag Archive | MLS

Was Paulo’s short-term loan just what the doctor ordered?

Photo Credit: smackdowntay (smackdowntay.blogspot.com)

When Paulo Araujo Jr. was first signed by Real Salt Lake over a year ago, he made an immediate impact for the club.  His first appearance was made at Rio Tinto Stadium during a CONCACAF Champions League group stage match against fellow MLS team Toronto FC.  He was subbed in late in the match with everything to prove.  He scored a goal minutes after coming on to complete a 4-1 thumping of Toronto.

The blooming forward was pretty unknown to RSL fans upon being brought in on loan by the Salt Lake side from the second tier of North American soccer.  He was supposedly a good forward capable of scoring in the second division.  Would that all-star success translate to his MLS play?  The answer: Yes!

His fantastic form continued into the next season, 2011.  During Real’s home opener against budding rivals LA Galaxy, Paulo was able to draw and PK that was scored by Javier Morales and score a goal in another 4-1 scoreline.  At this point the forward’s last name had unofficially been changed from Araujo to Junior by endearing fans.  The speedy youngster was everything a fan could ask for.  He was a lightning quick forward with a keen talent of making back-post runs and finishing.  The young forward had everything going for him.  He was always the obvious choice as the third-string forward behind Alvaro Saborio and Fabian Espindola.

Everything changed for Paulo after being injured for a big part of the 2011 season and never truly coming back to full form.  His speed had been lost and he didn’t play as quickly or with enough urgency to really shine in the RSL XI.

Throughout the beginning of this season, the Brazilian native continued to struggle as he had during most of the 2011 season.  He scored one goal on penalty kick against brand new expansion side Montreal.  After several more months that must have been quite frustrating for Paulo Junior he was given news that he was to be loaned back out to the second division.  This was an alert of sorts for Paulo.  Almost a threat.  This was his last chance.  If he did well on the short-term loan, learned his lesson, and made an impact on Real Salt Lake similar to the one he made upon his first arrival, he would stay and earn some minutes.  If he didn’t, we wouldn’t be seeing him in claret and cobalt much longer.

Paulo’s first match back from the loan spell was just yesterday against the Vancouver Whitecaps.  Leading up to the game head coach Jason Kreis said that he’d been very impressed with Junior’s performance since returning to Salt Lake City.  I am almost positive that nearly every Real fan let out an enormous sigh of relief at the moment that Paulo Jr. pulled a crafty move to round a Whitecaps defender and then sent in a lethal cross that landed right on the head of Nat Borchers, who directed the ball down into the back corner of the netting.  It was Paulo Junior’s first assist of the season.  Hopefully his short and promising performance shows that Paulo is really back for good.  I can only feverishly hope that this assist of his ramps up to his production of more goals and assists later this season!  If Paulo Jr. continues to perform and improve he could regain his title as one of the most exciting forwards to watch in MLS!

Good luck Paulo!!!

FORTUNE FAVORS THE BOLD

-Ben Anderson

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

Rocky Mountain Cup: The ins and outs of the 2012 edition

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Photo Credit: smackdowntay (smackdowntay.blogspot.com)

This year’s installment of the Rocky Mountain Cup rivalry between RSL and the Rapids has the potential to be very high-strung and controversial due to changes across the league.

First off:  The internal drama.  Supporters throughout the Real Salt Lake community have had very mixed reactions to Mark Miller Subaru sponsoring the RMC this season.  The whole issue behind it is that the cup was originally founded and payed for by fans and supporters groups.  The idea of a sponsorship didn’t come through these supporters.  In fact, they were completely unaware of it.  It seems to me that the Real Salt Lake front office found another way to make some money off of companies looking for an opportunity to sponsor RSL.  Some supporters are completely against it and say that the Rocky Mountain Cup simply shouldn’t be sponsored.  Some say that they’re fine with the sponsorship deal but they think that the front office should have negotiated with or alerted major supporters groups first and that some of the money from the deal should be dispersed among supporters groups.  Other fans are completely fine with the idea of a sponsorship on the RMC.

My opinion?  I’ve got some mixed feelings.  I really wish sponsorship was avoided on the RMC to keep it out of the commercial world.  But if there is going to be a money-making deal, I believe some of that money should be given out to the people who brought the Rocky Mountain Cup into existence in the first place.  But my opinion doesn’t really matter in the end, does it?

A little more controversy is added to the competition due to this season’s unbalanced schedule that has Real slated against the Colorado (cRapids) three times, two at the RioT and one in Commerce City.  Now, I’m all happy about this advantage at our fortress, but as you might expect, Colorado fans aren’t too happy with their team’s disadvantage.  Nothing can be done about this.  All Rapid fans can do is complain for now.  But if we still are playing an unbalanced schedule come next season, Colorado will be the club hosting their rival two times out of three.

Play wise, expect strong, hot-blooded efforts from both sides.  Hopefully, Real can pick up its form from past matches.

Be sure to print out this card that supporters will be holding up around the stadium after the national anthem: http://www.rslroyalarmy.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Racism-Red-Card.pdf

See you at the RioT!