Real Salt Lake
Last year RSL was struggling for the final slot to make the playoffs and scrapping for every possible point to make that happen. Then, the amazing run in the playoffs occurred, and RSL, a team that could not get a road win, pulled off multiple road wins en route to the MLS Championship game. That victory, as every fan knows, came at the home of the Seattle Sounders, Qwest Field… and Thursday night, RSL will take on the Sounders on their home turf of Qwest. The Sounders fans know what this game means and they will be out in force. Sure, the Seattle fans were awesome supporters of RSL going into last year’s championship game against LA -Thanks for that, by the way – but methinks that the fans may not be all that supportive of RSL on Thursday night. It’s okay, RSL fans get it. This game means somethig for both clubs. Read the rest of this entry »
Real Salt Lake faces off against DC United for the second time this week, having gone down 2:1 to DC United in a Lamar Hunt US Open Cup match on Wednesday. That was the low for the week, followed by the high of being honored as MLS Champions by President Obama at The white House on Thursday. Now, back to the pitch in an MLS league game against DCU.
While not all of Real’s starters played on Wednesday night, the team will likely pull out all the stops today. Unfortunately, Andy Williams and Chris Wingert remain sidelined with injuries as does RSL Captain, Kyle Beckerman. Robbie Findley is away with the US Men’s National Team for World Cup duty in South Africa. That said, Fabian Espindola and Javier Morales remain hot up top and the RSL defense is solid and deep. For a good head to head comparison of the teams take a look here.
There is a pretty good pre-game assessment of the Chivas USA versus Real Salt Lake match here. But the down and dirty assessment is that RSL has been ascendant while Chivas has been mired in mediocrity. Chivas was the hot team at the start of the 2008 season, but something happened to the team (not just the loss of Preki) and it has slipped to the place it now firmly possesses: Last Place in the West. Ouch! Read the rest of this entry »
While the start of the 2010 MLS season for Real Salt Lake might not be as bad as their disappointing 2009 start (see file footage above or look at my 2009 posts), it is a far cry from how Coach Jason Kreis wanted his team to open their defense of the 2009 MLS Cup. Let’s face it, there were a lot of critics in the soccer-world who thought RSL’s 2009 title win was a fluke and that the best team in MLS did not hoist the championship cup in Seattle. Some thought LA was the best team in soccer as they surged at the end of the season, and others would have said that the Columbus Crew with the best record in MLS was clearly the best team, but few though the best MLS team was RSL. Read the rest of this entry »
I am a firm believer in giving credit where credit is due, and while Real Salt Lake was a bit tired and beat up from playing three games in seven days, the LA Galaxy deserved the win they got on Saturday night in LA. Both teams played a high energy, entertaining game, but in the end LA looked fresher and more in control of the match. The only question I have is: What happened to set Edson Buddle on fire this year? Seriously, seven goals in four games… 100% of the goals scored by the LA Galaxy this year have been scored by Buddle. Add to that the fact that LA had not allowed a goal until Kyle Beckerman put one in during this game, and LA is looking pretty darn good in 2010. Read the rest of this entry »
Currently I am on vacation with my two sons at Zion National Park in southern Utah. (Highly recommended, by the way). But, regardless of my personal schedule, soccer continues. Sadly, yesterday’s game between RSL and the San Jose Earthquakes was not on TV, but it was broadcast on KALL-700 radio. After a day of hiking in Zion, my sons and I decided to drive over to St. George to check on movies. Going to a movie got scrubbed in favor of dinner at Ruby Tuesdays.
The cool thing about the drive was that we listened to the RSL v SJE game on KALL-700 AM radio as we drove. We heard the 1st half driving over, ate, and as we were driving back listened to the last 10 minutes of the game. When we turned the radio on after dinner, RSL was up 2-1, then, just before regulation ends SJE scores. Here comes thirty minutes of overtime with no Golden Goal. We listen to overtime as we are driving back. Then, SJE scores and so it is 3-2 but just as we are getting back to Springdale, Nat Borchers scores on a head from a Robbie Russell cross. (Now that is an offensive combination I’d not thought of).
My son, Adam yells loudly, and it’s going to PKs! We drove up and down Springdale’s main street to listen to the rest of the game, hoping the Springdale cops wouldn’t think we were casing the joint. As for the PKs, Nick Rimando had to sit and watch this time. Kyle Reynish had been keeper for RSL all night because they were resting Rimando for the Galaxy game on Saturday. Jon Bush was keeper for SJE with Cannon on the bench. The very first Quake up, Arturo Alvarez, missed his kick wide and that was enough to get the win for RSL as all of the other four Quakes and the five RSL players all made their PKs. It took 120 minutes, but RSL won the game and will move on in the Lamar Hunt Open Cup. Now, on to LA today for the Saturday night game at The Home Depot Center.
So in the end there are two things I take away from last night’s game: Number one, it sucked that RSL had a 2-0 lead and took its foot off the gas and let the Quakes get back in the game; and number two, unlike early last season, RSL fought back and never stopped playing for a win. No, it wasn’t good for my blood pressure, but it was good to get the win. Unfortunately, the team expended a lot of energy and now heads down to LA to play the Galaxy on Saturday night. That will not be an easy match as LA looks as good as I have ever seen them this early in the season. That said, RSL has definitely applied some lessons from last year to this year. But will it be enough in LA on two days rest?
I remember watching classic Saturday Night Live when I was back in high school. It was the John Belushi and Chevy Chase era. (Yes, I know this dates me.) One of the recurring skits had the claymation character of “Mister Bill” constantly getting squashed by “Mister Hand”. Bill would be happily going about his business and out of nowhere Mister Hand would show up and Bill would squeal, “Oh Nooooo!!!!” -then squash. Of course, the next week Mister Bill would be back to normal and going happily about his life.
This memory of Mister Bill comes to mind today because last night I kind of felt as if Jamison Olave was Mister Bill and the referee was Mister Hand. Olave, playing the aggressive style that he usually does, picked up two penalties in the box within the early minutes of the second period. Both penalties occurred within a three minute span and both resulted in Brad Davis scores. Nick Rimando picked the correct side on both PKs, but Davis’s style of taking kicks is to blast them past the keeper. Rimando had no real chance of making the stop. Read the rest of this entry »
There are two significant MLS games tonight on ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes. The first pits the defending MLS Champion Real Salt Lake against the always dangerous Houston Dynamo in its home stadium. Houston opened their season last weekend, with a 1-1 draw against fellow Texas team, FC Dallas. The second of tonight’s “MLS Game(s) of the Week” has the team Real defeated to win its first MLS title, the LA Galaxy, battling Chivas USA in Los Angeles, with the Galaxy wearing the mantle of home team at their shared stadium.
The games tonight will be significant for a couple of reasons. First, even though Real Salt Lake won the MLS Cup last season and began its 2010 title defense with a resounding 3-0 win over the San Jose Earthquakes last Saturday night, not many soccer commentators have ranked Real at the top of the teams in the MLS Western Conference as the 2010 season begins. In fact, most “soccer pundits” have ranked the LA Galaxy, who also notched an opening 1-0 win at home against the New England Revolution, several places ahead of Real Salt Lake.
Granted, New England is probably a tougher team to play than San Jose, but Real showed confidence and solid play on both offense and defense when they opened last week. For those readers with keen memories, Real Salt Lake was horrid on the road at the start of last season, a monkey Real finally got off its back during the team’s playoff run. For Real to get a win on the road in its first 2010 game is a significant confidence boost. Playing Houston away with a quick turn around will be an early season test of Salt Lake’s mettle. If Salt Lake can go into the lions den of Houston and play with the same gritty determination they showed in taking the 2009 title, soccer writers and commentators may be compelled to revise their early season rankings.
LA will also be facing a test of sorts in taking on Chivas – “Super-Clasicos” are always tough, and by Landon Donovan’s own admission after the New England game, LA did not play all that well. Still, the Galaxy managed a win, and that is what champion quality teams do: They find a way to win even when they do not play at their best. Read the rest of this entry »
Saturday night I was blessed to be in Buck Shaw Stadium at Santa Clara University to watch Real open the 2010 MLS season against the San Jose Earthquakes. I am pleased to report that unlike last season, there were no “Road Monkeys” anywhere in the vicinity, and RSL looked fantastic in their opening game in defense of their 2009 MLS Crown. Before the match I was confident in RSL’s defense, which was basically unchanged from last season, but a little nervous about how the offense would fare without Yura Movsisyan in the middle. What I saw Saturday night put all fears to rest, and other MLS teams may want to give RSL a bit more “street cred” than it has so far. This advice, by the way, also applies to commentators such as… oh… Alexi Lalas, who continues to talk about every team in the league as a contender, but seems to forget RSL. Read the rest of this entry »
Real Salt Lake faced off against The College of Charleston Cougars on Saturday and came away with a 2-1 win, both goals coming in the second half of play. There are a few notable things about the game. First, it was the first time that the entire RSL team was together now that Robbied Findley, Kyle Beckerman, and Nicky Rimando have returned from duty with the U.S. Men’s National Team, although Beckerman and Findley sat the game out. Second, it was the introduction of sixteen year-old Luis Gil, who played the first half of the match as a striker. Third, one of the two goals in the second half was scored by Pablo Campos who was acquired in 2009 from the San Jose Earthquakes. Read the rest of this entry »