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Rocky Mountain clash ends in dismal 1-1 draw

Posted on 26 September 2010 by Patrick McShane

It was another fascinating installment of the Rocky Mountain Cup Saturday night, as Real Salt Lake came back in added time to steal a 1-1 draw from the Colorado Rapids. It has been a contentious relationship between both rivals over the years, particularly last season as RSL eliminated Colorado’s playoff hopes on the final match of the season while simultaneously sealing their own playoff dreams. Add to the equation that many key RSL players used to ply their trade with the Rapids, and it makes every meeting between both teams personal and filled with bad blood.

Thanks to the sordid history between both clubs, matches are typically not very entertaining and often end up being a physical, scattered affair. Saturday night was no different, as neither team could get any sort of rhythm early in the match and both were trying to play chances over the top with the long ball. RSL in particular appeared to struggle with their tactics as they fielded a largely unconventional lineup of role players in order to rest their starters for their CONCACAF meeting between Toronto FC on Tuesday. This meant that usual starters Kyle Beckerman, Will Johnson, Alvaro Saborío, and Robbie Findley were all watching the match from the bench, while Javier Morales and Jamison Olave weren’t featured in the game day 18.

Because of the lack of cohesion between teammates, the match had little-to-no offensive production, with much of the match being played in the middle of the pitch. While RSL produced a couple of chances early on, it was Colorado that struck first with Conor Casey heading home the opening goal off of a brilliant cross from Kosuke Kimura. While the finish was class and Casey easily beat stand-in center defender Rauwshan McKenzie, the goal was completely against the run of play and surprised both the Rio Tinto fans and RSL. Noted RSL coach Jason Kreis after the match: “I’m pleased with everything except for 15 seconds in the first half when we gave away that goal. I thought that was a play completely against the run of play.”

Hoping that the infusion of typical starters would jumpstart a rally, Kreis inserted Beckerman, Saborío, and Johnson early in the second half. Though these substitutions produced a better looking display of soccer, both teams continued to struggle to create substantial chances in the final third. As regular time came to an end, it appeared that Colorado defender Marvell Wynne committed a blatant handball in the box. While referee Ramon Hernandez initially awarded the penalty kick to RSL, he later changed his call after consulting with his linesman and instead ruled a surprising drop ball. With the reversed call it felt like RSL’s lone chance to earn an underwhelming draw had passed, until Borchers came to the rescue with an unexpected goal off the back of his head to secure the 1-1 draw and the continuity of RSL’s undefeated home streak.

RSL will now turn their attention to a chaotic upcoming schedule, playing 6 matches in 18 days between MLS and CONCACAF Champions League play. While the draw to Colorado is disappointing, the possible positive outcome of resting so many starters could be actualized on Tuesday if RSL were to beat or tie Toronto FC and earn their way into the Championship Stage. “We’re going to put all our cards on the table for [the game in Toronto],” noted Kreis. “I feel like that is the one we have to get a result in to wrap up this Champions League stuff so that we can turn our focus to the Supporters Shield and the playoffs.”

REAL SALT LAKE (13-4-9, 48 pts.) v. COLORADO RAPIDS (10-7-8, 38 pts.)

Scoring Summary:
COL — Conor Casey 11 (Kosuke Kimura 1, Brian Mullan 1) 36
RSL — Nat Borchers 1 (Andy Williams 6) 93+

Misconduct Summary:
COL — Conor Casey (caution; Reckless Foul) 10
COL — Marvell Wynne (caution; Reckless Foul) 16
RSL — Pablo Campos (caution; Tactical Foul) 32
RSL — Fabian Espindola (caution; Dissent) 66
RSL — Collen Warner (caution; Dissent) 78
COL — Anthony Wallace (caution; Delaying a Restart) 82

Colorado Rapids — Matt Pickens, Kosuke Kimura, Marvell Wynne, Drew Moor, Anthony Wallace (Scott Palguta 89), Brian Mullan (Wells Thompson 63), Jeff Larentowicz, Pablo Mastroeni, Jamie Smith, Macoumba Kandji (Ross LaBauex 73), Conor Casey. ?

Real Salt Lake — Kyle Reynish, Tony Beltran, Rauwshan McKenzie, Nat Borchers, Chris Wingert, Andy Williams, Jean Alexandre (Kyle Beckerman 56), Collen Warner, Ned Grabavoy (Will Johnson 70), Pablo Campos (Alvaro Saborío 62), Fabian Espindola.

Referee: Ramon Hernandez?
Referee’s Assistants: Ian Anderson; Paul Scott?
4th Official: Yader Reyes?
Weather: Clear and 76 degrees / ?Attendance: 18,317

All Statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial

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Fight night at the RioT ends in 1-1 draw

Posted on 05 July 2009 by Patrick McShane

It was a night of disappointment and relief for Real Salt Lake as they battled back in added time to secure a 1-1 draw against the San Jose Quakes, despite being a man down due striker Fabian Espindola’s horror backlash against San Jose’s Brandon McDonald. It was the fourth time this season that an RSL player has been ejected as well as the third time that RSL has dropped points at home.

While the draw continues RSL’s undefeated streak, the sentiment of discontent was abundant in the locker room as it was a missed opportunity to earn full points at home.

“I’m pleased with the response of the team. The second half the energy level was higher, the possession was higher and, guess what, we had a bunch of chances. And then in particular, after we got the ejection, I thought the guys responded the right way. But three points are a must at home, and we didn’t get three points, so it’s a failure.” Said coach Jason Kreis after the match.

While the second half was played at a manic and crazed pace, the first half was lifeless and dull. RSL was the only squad able to muster a shot on goal, launching a measly two attempts, with an Espindola break on goal being the only attempt of any significance. San Jose, on the other hand, had their own battles to fight in the first half as they lost two players to injuries. Former U.S. standout Bobby Convey injured his right hamstring and captain Ramiro Corrales strained his ankle with both players substituted before the half.

These early substitutions would come back to haunt San Jose as it limited their strategic options later in the match. Noted San Jose coach Frank Yallop: “The two injuries cost us in the end because we couldn’t make changes when we needed to. When some of the players in key positions were getting tired, we couldn’t bring on fresh legs to help with the workload.”

RSL seemed to come out of the gates in the second half with more energy, possibly being the brink of the go-ahead goal if not for the stellar play of keeper Joe Cannon and the San Jose backline. Granted, RSL also appeared to sabotage opportunities by losing possession deep in the final third and by delivering sloppy crosses and passes. This offensive ineptness would come back to haunt RSL in the 63rd minute when Arturo Alvarez dribbled through three RSL defenders to slot the ball home with a left foot. The 17,478 fans were stunned, as it was truly one of the only offensive efforts that San Jose demonstrated all night.

Things continued to get worse for RSL, as San Jose began to bunker and waste time with extended injury breaks. Many RSL players, including Espindola and Javier Morales took exception to this tactic, and were trying to encourage the injured players to get up or leave the pitch. This led to the first altercation between Espindola and McDonald, as it seemed McDonald took a swing at Espindola after a heated argument over San Jose’s Jason Hernandez exaggerated injury and delayed return to play. While McDonald was awarded a yellow card for his actions, one could tell things were about to boil over.

It took only one minute for the conflict to reach a climax, as Espindola collected a pass on the left wing and began to charge forward. When McDonald came running from the middle of the pitch towards Espindola, there was little doubt that things would end ugly. While McDonald did get a piece of the ball with his slide tackle, he also got a lot of Espindola, which resulted in the scissor-kick takedown that eventually led to Espindola’s departure.

Typically being a man down is a huge handicap to overcome. However, RSL seemed to play better after Espindola’s ejection, creating many dangerous chances with little-to-no counterattack from San Jose. Stand-in captain Nat Borchers agreed with this notion, strangely stating: “I didn’t have a problem with Fabian getting sent off because I felt like it injected some energy into the game and I felt like we were better. We needed to show some emotion, and him not being here did that for us.”

That emotion finally produced a result just 1 minute into added time, when RSL scored an unlikely goal off of a sloppy broken play. Defender Robbie Russell launched a ball over the top of the defense, which Morales calmly collected and then distributed to striker Yura Movsisyan. Though Movsisyan immediately lost possession while running, the ball fortuitously bounced off of San Jose defender Chris Leitch and slowly rolled into the net. The San Jose staff and players were visibly upset at the turn of play as the match end minutes later.

RSL won’t play another match of consequence for nearly two weeks when they travel to Columbus to take on the reigning MLS champs. Between then, RSL will host Mexican side Club América next Saturday in this year’s edition of the annual XanGo Cup. This match will give RSL the opportunity to tinker with lineups and continue to adjust to the loss of midfielders Will Johnson and Kyle Beckerman to the Gold Cup tournament. With the summer transfer window also opening during that time, it could be a very different looking team that takes on the Crew on July 18.

Photo Gallery

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Rimando – The majority of San Jose’s shots on goal came late in the match and he wasn’t really challenged all night. He was absolutely stranded on the Alvarez goal thanks to Borcher’s missed sliding challenge.

Russell – He continues to deliver consistent performances despite being played in a variety of positions. It was his long ball that led to the tying goal.

Wingert – While I think he played decent, he is still a shadow of his former self from last season. With RSL general manager Garth Lagerwey insinuating the possible departure of a key player in the coming weeks, one can’t help but feel that Wingert’s days in an RSL kit might be numbered.

Borchers – He did an okay job as captain and defensive anchor due to Olave’s surprise benching, though he isn’t quite the vocal leader that typical captain Kyle Beckerman is. I wonder how the McDonald altercation might have turned out if Beckerman was involved instead of Borchers.

Beltran – Beltran continues to grow every week as a player. While he still struggles, his hustle and energy is a great change of pace compared to other players on the team. I’m interested to see what type of player Beltran will be in a couple of years.

Grabavoy – His play has been surprising as of late as he’s really stepped up his play. I thought it was a toss-up between him and Morales for Man of the Match. He tracked back on defense to disrupt and was savvy on attack.

Morales – There was doubt as to whether or not Morales would be able to go due to an ankle injury sustained last week against Toronto. Not only did Morales play, but he also didn’t stop moving the entire match. When RSL were pressing for a late goal, Morales was constantly moving and creating chances. I thought he was flat-out brilliant.

Mathis – Continues to be the most consistent performer for RSL on the season. It will be a shame if he isn’t rewarded with an All-Star nod for his play.

Williams – He just didn’t seem comfortable in an attacking role and there seemed to be a communication issue with the other strikers. Not a noteworthy performance.

Espindola – The best way to describe Espindola’s performance prior to his ejection would be “buzz-kill.” Every time there was an offensive build up, Espindola found a way to lose possession or waste the opportunity. His ejection was well deserved despite McDonald’s physical play and if he wants to remain an integral figure for RSL he needs to get his play and emotions under control.

Movsisyan – He challenged and fought for attacking opportunities, but just couldn’t find a way to be dangerous in front of goal. It will be interesting to see how Yura’s play changes with the return of Findley.

– Jason Kreis will say that Olave was benched for the sake of consistency, but anyone who paid attention to his comments after Olave’s ejection in the Houston match will know that his benching was a message. I can’t help but wonder if Alvarez would have made it through the defense so easily if Olave were standing in the way.

Findley – It took him a bit to warm up as this was his first minutes in nearly a month, but there wasn’t a more dangerous player on the pitch outside of Morales in the closing minutes of the match.

Cox – He seemed a little hesitant with his passes though he was active and involved.

San Jose Earthquakes (3-8-4) vs. Real Salt Lake (5-6-5)
July 03, 2009 — Rio Tinto Stadium

Scoring Summary:
SJ — Arturo Alvarez 5 (Pablo Campos 2) 63
RSL — Own Goal (Chris Leitch) 91+

San Jose Earthquakes — Joe Cannon, Chris Leitch, Jason Hernandez, Aaron Pitchkolan, Ramiro Corrales (Michael Zaher 45), Arturo Alvarez, Brandon McDonald, Antonio Ribeiro, Bobby Convey (Shea Salinas 38), Pablo Campos (Cornell Glen 87), Ryan Johnson.

Real Salt Lake — Nick Rimando, Chris Wingert (Raphael Cox 91+), Nat Borchers, Robbie Russell, Tony Beltran (Jamison Olave 72), Ned Grabavoy, Clint Mathis, Javier Morales, Andy Williams (Robbie Findley 62), Yura Movsisyan, Fabian Espindola.

Misconduct Summary:
SJ — Pablo Campos (caution; Simulation) 13
RSL — Andy Williams (caution; Tactical Foul) 43
SJ — Shea Salinas (caution; Reckless Tackle) 47
SJ — Brandon McDonald (caution; Unsporting Behavior) 75
SJ — Jason Hernandez (caution; Lack of Respect for Game) 76
RSL — Fabian Espindola (ejection; Serious Foul Play) 77
SJ — Chris Leitch (caution; Delaying a Restart) 86
SJ — Joe Cannon (caution; Delaying a Restart) 95+

Referee: Michael Kennedy
Referee’s Assistants: Corey Rockwell; Eric Boria
4th official: Tyler Ploeger
Attendance: 17,478 / Weather: Clear -and- 80 degrees

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RSL Demolish Weary United

Posted on 13 April 2008 by Patrick McShane

RSL made it three straight wins at home against D.C. United Saturday as they defeated the winners of last year’s Supporters’ Shield 4-0. Kyle Beckerman celebrated his first captaincy of the season by scoring twice while Dema Kovalenko assisted on two goals as RSL claimed it’s largest margin of victory in team history.


One would expect United to be weary after their mid-week loss to Pachuca in the CONCACAF Champions’ Cup. Add travel, adapting to Salt Lake City’s elevation, and an unforgiving plastic pitch to the equation and United were in for an uphill battle. In response to their busy week, United rested many of their starters, including big off-season acquisition Marcelo Gallardo. Unfortunately, it was apparent from the beginning that United could have used some of those players as they were down after the 12th minute.Working with Kovalenko on a combination of passes, Beckerman took a sublime through ball and launches a low shot to the bottom right corner of goal.

Chris Wingert celebrates the win (c) Julia Fizer

Despite losing the early lead, United were the aggressors for much of the first half, working both wings for crosses into RSL’s box only to be cleared or collected.United immediately responded, pressuring RSL’s defense with two dangerous crosses. However, it was RSL who struck again only seven minutes later when Kovalenko assisted Fabian Espindola on a deep pass. What initially looked like a harmless lob by Kovalenko into United’s final third soon turned to disaster as Espindola calmly collected off the bounce and slotted the ball past Jose Carvallo, despite making contact with his left hand.

For the remainder of the half United continued to create dangerous crosses, with Devon McTavish looking particularly keen, only to find no one on the receiving end. In the meantime, RSL racked up suspicious fouls with two calls each going against Nathan Sturgis and Kenny Deuchar. Deuchar, who spent the last four seasons with Scottish Premier side Gretna, seemed particularly confused by the calls. “I was the one that won the ball… I’ve clearly headed the ball and for some reason (the referee) is giving free kicks. The way I play is honest and I’m always going for the ball… I don’t try to commit fouls.” Deuchar received a yellow card minutes later for dissent.

The second half appeared to be more of the same, just without opportunities to finish as both Espindola and Kovalenko continued to torch United’s left back. In the 51st minute Deuchar produced his best chance of the match when he broke on a pass just beyond midfield and was one-on-one with Carvallo. However, the chance was soon wasted as the Scotsman blasted his opportunity wide left of the goal. Minutes later Javier Morales almost scored his first goal of the season. Taking a free kick from nearly 30 yards out, the Argentine midfielder drove the shot just past the outstretched hands of Carvallo only to see the ball bounce off the right post.

Whereas RSL seemed content with the scoreline near the end of the first half, it was apparent their attitude had changed as RSL continued to torment United’s backline. Coach Jason Kreis brought on Robbie Findley in the 70th minute for a winded Espindola to keep RSL’s attack fresh. This tactic paid off eight minutes later when Findley set up Beckerman’s second goal of the match. Collecting a header from defender Nat Borchers at the top of the box, Findley coolly passed back to an attacking Beckerman who rocketed a shot into the back of the net. Findley capped off his super-sub performance in the 87th minute when fought off United defender Gonzalo Peralta on a horrible header back to Carvallo and headed home the fourth goal of the match.

Smiles were all around as RSL celebrated their first win of the season after the final whistle blew. United, drawing to conclusion a long week of travel and disappointment, quietly walked to their locker room. One would assume that everyone involved with RSL would have been ecstatic with the win, though Coach Kreis gave a different impression. “For me the soccer wasn’t quite as good as I thought it has been the last two games on our side. So scoring the goals obviously makes things look brighter, but I think there are some things to take away from tonight’s game as well.”

RSL looks to build upon this win and take to heart some of those areas of continued improvement when they visit Toronto next Saturday. For the time being, however, RSL is going to enjoy their first emphatic win of this young MLS season and let Toronto doing the worrying. As Deuchar noted: “I don’t think Toronto will be looking forward to playing us now.”
McTavish shadows Beckerman (c) Julia Fizer

Stat Sheet

D.C. United (1-2-0) vs. Real Salt Lake (1-1-1)
April 12, 2008 — Rice-Eccles Stadium

Scoring Summary:
RSL — Kyle Beckerman 1 (Dema Kovalenko 1) 12
RSL — Fabian Espindola 1 (Dema Kovalenko 2) 19
RSL — Kyle Beckerman 2 (Nat Borchers 1, Robbie Findley 1) 78
RSL — Robbie Findley 1 (unassisted) 87

D.C. United — Jose Carvallo, Bryan Namoff, Gonzalo Peralta, Domenic Mediate, Devon McTavish, Rod Dyachenko, Clyde Simms, Marc Burch (Santino Quaranta 46), Fred, Luciano Emilio (Franco Niell 62), Jaime Moreno (Dan Stratford 80).

Substitutes Not Used: Marcelo Gallardo, Quavas Kirk, Gonzalo Martinez, Zach Wells

Real Salt Lake — Nick Rimando, Chris Wingert, Nat Borchers, Matias Mantilla, Ian Joy (Tony Beltran 83), Dema Kovalenko, Javier Morales (Andy Williams 63), Nathan Sturgis, Kyle Beckerman, Kenny Deuchar, Fabian Espindola (Robbie Findley 70).

Substitutes Not Used: Yura Movsisyan, Jamison Olave, Chris Seitz, Carey Talley

Misconduct Summary:
RSL — Kenny Deuchar (caution; Dissent) 30
DC — Rod Dyachenko (caution; Tackle from Behind) 48
DC — Clyde Simms (caution; Tackle from Behind) 58

referee: Richard Heron
Referee’s Assistants: Frank Anderson; Emiliano Monje
4th official: Ramon Hernandez
time of game: 1:46
attendance: 13,193
weather: Clear -and- 60 degrees

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