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The downward spiral continues for Real Salt Lake

Posted on 17 May 2009 by Patrick McShane

It was another evening of disappointment for RSL as they lost their first match at home this season, falling 2-0 to the Kansas City Wizards. It took two clinical finishes from striker Josh Wolff to knock RSL out of the match and plummet the team and supporters spirits into the basement. It was RSL’s second straight match without a goal and another in a string of overall lethargic performances for a team many thought would be challenging for the western conference crown.

Even RSL coach Jason Kreis was at a loss for words at the end of the match, noting, “I think the effort was there, we just weren’t good enough. Just too many players had bad nights tonight. Bad nights – not average nights, not mediocre nights, but bad nights.”

In the early stages of the match, it didn’t seem like RSL was bound to have a squad of players with bad nights. RSL’s midfield controlled the attack and continued to win the ball and push forward. However, it was their sloppy play and poor possession in the final third that doomed them all evening and led to the Wizard’s first goal.

After a number of defensive miscues, RSL keeper Chris Seitz made a miraculous save against a Davy Arnaud blast and RSL were on the counter attack. Unfortunately, the Wizards were able to gather their defense and Jack Jewsbury forced Chris Wingert into a sloppy turnover. Quickly countering, Jewsbury launched a ball over the top of RSL’s sleeping defenders and found Wolff full sprint on his way to goal. There was little Seitz could do this time and the sellout crowd of 19,340 at Rio Tinto stadium were stunned silent as Wolff celebrated his tap-in goal.

Despite playing from behind, RSL tried to mount more of an attack and created a number of chances, nearly scoring off of a corner kick. After Robbie Russell forced Wiz keeper Kevin Hartman to make a diving save, Kyle Beckerman hit a snap-header towards goal on the ensuing corner. However, Hartman again was up to the task, knocking the ball down to be cleared off the line by a teammate.

Hartman easily deserves Man of the Match recognition as he continued to handle a number of blasts late in the match and never seemed overwhelmed as RSL pushed forward for a goal. “When he has to make a save, he does. Kevin’s been very good all season long. It was another solid performance from one of the League’s best goalkeepers,” praised Wiz coach Curt Onalfo after the match.

Just under 25 minutes from the end of the match, the Wiz slammed the door shut on RSL’s hope of equalizing, as Wolff scored his second goal of the day by beating defender Jamison Olave to a perfect pass from Michael Harrington and easily slotted the ball home. Olave collided with Seitz during the play, causing an injury to Seitz and adding insult to the second goal.

Striker Luis Miguel Escalada came on minutes later to try and revitalize RSL’s stagnant attack, but the damage was already done and both his and Fabian Espindola’s creative strikes on goal were not enough to get by Hartman and bring RSL back into the match.

RSL has a lot of room to improve as they prepare to travel to DC United next week. It is bound to be a week full of hard work in training, and Kreis is hoping that the players join him as he searches for answers. “I’m looking for answers of myself, and I hope that all the players are doing that as well.”

Kansas City Wizards (4-4-2) vs. Real Salt Lake (3-5-1)
May 16, 2009 — Rio Tinto Stadium

Scoring Summary:
KC — Josh Wolff 5 (Jack Jewsbury 4) 20
KC — Josh Wolff 6 (Michael Harrington 2) 67

Kansas City Wizards — Kevin Hartman, Lance Watson (Michael Harrington 65), Jimmy Conrad, Aaron Hohlbein, Matt Besler, Davy Arnaud, Santiago Hirsig, Jack Jewsbury, Roger Espinoza (Herculez Gomez 61), Claudio Lopez (Michael Kraus 89), Josh Wolff.

Real Salt Lake — Chris Seitz, Robbie Russell, Nat Borchers, Jamison Olave, Chris Wingert (Andy Williams 76), Clint Mathis, Kyle Beckerman, Javier Morales, Will Johnson, Robbie Findley (Luis Miguel Escalada 76), Yura Movsisyan (Fabian Espindola 63).

Misconduct Summary:
KC — Roger Espinoza (caution; Reckless Tackle) 22
KC — Matt Besler (caution; Delaying a Restart) 24
KC — Davy Arnaud (caution; Reckless Foul) 40
RSL — Will Johnson (caution; Reckless Foul) 73
RSL — Robbie Russell (caution; Reckless Foul) 89

Referee: Yader Reyes
Referee’s Assistants: Fabio Tovar; Paul Scott
4th official: Kevin Stott
Attendance: 19,340?weather: Sunny -and- 70 degrees

Photo Gallery


Seitz – I just can’t decide how I feel about Seitz’s performance during Nick Rimando’s absence. On one hand, Seitz was up to the task against some amazing crosses and strikes into the box, and yet I just felt like his positioning was suspect leading to dangerous situations. Rimando should be ready to play again in the next week and Seitz appeared to be injured late in the match, so it will be interesting to see what who coaching staff name as starter.

Russell – Russell has a great ability to get forward on attack while remaining viable on defense. That said – some of his shots on goal were out of the run of play and poorly taken.

Wingert – How long is it going to take for Wingert’s poor play to receive more attention in the media? It was his casual giveaway on attack that led to Wolfe’s first goal and he seems to be lacking an edge to his game.

Borchers – Nat had an okay match and shares equal blame with Olave & Russell for Wolff’s first goal. That said; it’s hard to point the finger at Nat for RSL’s poor defense play in recent weeks.

Olave – Olave was lucky to escape the match without a yellow card as he was involved with a number of physical altercations. It was probably his worst match of the season for RSL as he was to blame for the second goal due to poor man marking.

Beckerman – I’ve been very unimpressed with Beckerman over the past couple of weeks. For being the captain and emotional leader of the team he just hasn’t stepped up when the team needs him and just seems a step off.

Mathis – Mathis was again all over the pitch and involved in a lot of the limited positive play. He’s one of the only players that can’t be blamed for RSL’s poor play over the past couple of weeks.

Johnson – At the start of the season many had Johnson tabbed as a potential all-star and breakout player. 10 games in and Johnson has done little to stand out and doesn’t seem to be playing at the same level he was late last season.

Morales – Didn’t do enough to stand out in terms of assists or goals, but did an okay job trying to structure a confused and overmatched RSL attack.

Findley & Movsisyan – I think it’s time for a change of scenery up top for RSL. Movsisyan is lacking confidence right now and Findley seems to be running his pants off alone while in desperate hopes of latching on to long balls over the top. It’s just not working right now and to break out of this slump it may require a different approach.

Espindola & Escalada – Plain and simple: these two players need to start next week. The attack didn’t look dangerous until they were subbed in together and they both added a bite that RSL have been missing for weeks. Maybe the best way to get this squad back in form is to make them fight for their chance to play instead of gifting starting minutes every week.

Williams – Didn’t really see any minutes until the match was well out of reach.

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