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Streaking RSL dismantle the Wizards for fifth straight win

Posted on 31 May 2010 by Patrick McShane

Real Salt Lake extended their win streak Saturday to a franchise-best five games after dispatching the Kansas City Wizards 4-1 in a hotly contested affair. While RSL jumped off to an early lead after a pair of goals by Fabian Espíndola and Álvaro Saborío, the Wizards were able to capitalize on RSL’s occasional sloppy play to pull a goal back just before half. Inspired by 15,588 raucous fans at Rio Tinto Stadium, RSL controlled the second half and finished the match off late thanks to a Davy Arnaud ejection and goals from Robbie Russell and Ned Grabavoy.

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Action from the match ©Julie Harper/ASN

The match had a bright and confident feel for the home side early as RSL dominated much of the play. Espíndola and Saborío continued to nurture their growing partnership up top for RSL while combining with midfield maestro Javier Morales for a number of attacking runs in the first 20 minutes.

“I think that they have a good relationship,” noted coach Jason Kreis after the match. “I think they both look for each other and run off each other very well, and when you include Javier [Morales] in that triangle you see some really nice combination from those three players.”

While the Wizards defense did a decent job managing the pressure early on, RSL finally earned a breakthrough in the 31st minute when midfielder Andy Williams found himself open with yards of space in front of goal. Rather than taking the shot on goal, Williams drew three defenders to him before laying off to a wide-open Espíndola for a low, driven shot across keeper Jimmy Nielsen for the opening goal.

Espíndola was in fine form all evening, torching the Wizards backline while earning a number of chances for the home side. This effort was again repaid just minutes after the opening tally when Espíndola was sprung open on the left wing by Morales for an uncontested run at goal. Rather than launch a cross with his preferred left foot, Espíndola cut the ball into the middle a tried to chip Nielsen with his right foot. Though Nielsen was able to tip the ball, he wasn’t able to get complete control and spilled the ball behind him for Saborío to body home for his team-leading fifth goal.

While it seemed the match was trending towards a blowout, the Wizards produced a moment of magic just before half when Arnaud surprised a needlessly casual Nat Borchers right in front of goal for an interception. His speed and momentum paid off, as he was able to quickly place a nice pass across goal for Josh Wolff to slot home. Though the Wizards deserved the goal thanks to their energy and fight, one had to feel they didn’t deserve to be in the match at half as RSL were consistently the more organized and better team.

The second half played much like the beginning of the match, with RSL creating numerous chances and drawing repeated fouls against the Wizards. Arnaud, in particular, appeared furious at one of the linesman throughout the second half, screaming and arguing even when calls went the Wizards way. This tension eventually came to a head in the 82nd minute when Arnaud verbally challenged the referee after defender Matt Besler was called for a foul on Morales. Having earned a first caution just minutes earlier, Arnaud was shown his second yellow for dissent and was given an early trip to the showers.

RSL were able to easily close out the match after Arnaud’s ejection. Morales nearly scored on the ensuing free kick for the foul on Besler, but Nielsen was up to the task with a stunning foot save. Unfortunately for the Wizards, Russell was in position to slam the ball home after Nielsen’s save and the match seemed well out of reach for an undermanned Wizards side. The final nail in the coffin came in added time when Grabavoy intercepted a horrible back pass from substitute Graham Zusi to blow by Besler for beautiful, calm goal to the right of Nielsen. It was the first goal for both Russell and Grabavoy in a RSL kit, bringing the total number of players who have scored for RSL this season to a shocking 11 different players.

The next 10 days yield a rollercoaster ride for RSL, who will face D.C. United two times in four days and close out their pre World Cup schedule with a rematch against league leaders LA Galaxy. Their trip to Washington D.C. this week brings particular intrigue with it as Wednesday’s match is apart of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup play, followed by a trip to the White House to meet with President Barack Obama on Friday before meeting United again on Saturday for league action.

While RSL have built a deep squad this season to lesson the grind of MLS and Champion’s League play, they currently find themselves in a bind with Williams and defender Chris Wingert picking up hamstring injuries Saturday. These injuries coupled with the absence of midfielders Kyle Beckerman and Nelson González make the next week intriguing from a personnel standpoint for Kreis and RSL. RSL can only hope that they can overcome these interruptions and continue their exciting team play and stunning offensive production en route to an even longer win streak.

REAL SALT LAKE (6-3-1, 19 pts.) v. KANSAS CITY WIZARDS (2-5-2, 8 pts.)
DATE: Saturday, May 29, 2010 — Rio Tinto Stadium

Scoring Summary:
RSL — Fabian Espíndola 3 (Andy Williams 3) 31
RSL — Alvaro Saborío 5 (unassisted) 34
KC — Josh Wolff 1 (Davy Arnaud 1) 42
RSL — Robbie Russell 1 (unassisted) 84
RSL — Ned Grabavoy 1 (unassisted) 92+

Misconduct Summary:
KC — Matt Besler (caution; Tactical Foul) 27
RSL — Jamison Olave (caution; Tactical Foul) 29
KC — Kei Kamara (caution; Tactical Foul) 32
KC — Jimmy Conrad (caution; Tactical Foul) 73
KC — Davy Arnaud (caution; Tactical Foul) 82
KC — Davy Arnaud (ejection; Second Caution) 82

Real Salt Lake — Nick Rimando, Tony Beltran, Nat Borchers, Jamison Olave, Chris Wingert (Robbie Russell 46), Andy Williams (Ned Grabavoy 46), Javier Morales, Jean Alexandre, Will Johnson, Álvaro Saborío, Fabian Espíndola (Pablo Campos 88).

Statistics: SHOTS: 12 (Espíndola 5); SHOTS ON GOAL: 7 (Espíndola, Saborío 2); SAVES: 2 (Rimando 2); FOULS: 11 (Alexandre 3); CORNERS: 2 (Morales 2); OFFSIDES: 5 (Saborío 3)

Kansas City Wizards — Jimmy Nielsen, Jonathan Leathers (Chance Myers 46), Jimmy Conrad, Matt Besler, Michael Harrington, Davy Arnaud, Jack Jewsbury, Josh Wolff (Graham Zusi 77), Teal Bunbury, Kei Kamara, Ryan Smith.

Statistics: SHOTS: 6 (Bunbury, Kamara 2); SHOTS ON GOAL: 3 (3 players with 1); SAVES: 3 (Nielsen 3); FOULS: 14 (Arnaud 8); CORNERS: 4 (Arnaud, Smith 2); OFFSIDES: 1 (Kamara 1)

Referee: Ricardo Salazar
Referee’s Assistants: Eric Boria; Paul Scott
4th Official: Alejandro Mariscal
Weather: Partly Cloudy-and-58-degrees / Attendance: 15,588

All statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial

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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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TFC draw blank at home to Wizards

Posted on 23 June 2008 by Scott Ferguson

Toronto drew 0-0 with Kansas City Wizards on Saturday afternoon, preserving a long-standing unbeaten run at their home ground but failing to gain the goal scoring momentum that may have helped them in an upcoming run of seven away ties in their next nine MLS matches.

With Amado Guevara, Maurice Edu and Canadian duo Greg Sutton and Jim Brennan back from international duty, Reds boss John Carver opted to keep the same lineup from last week’s win over Colorado.

Kevin Harmse took advantage of a rare start with a solid performance alongside Carl Robinson in midfield, but with Edu and Guevara restricted to late substitue appearances, Toronto’s attack wasn’t able to get going through much of the contest.


“It was difficult for Todd [Dunivant] and certainly for Kevin Harmse,” Carver told the club’s website after the match. “He had one of his best games for us this season, but again, a defensive type of player, and I wanted to try and introduce Mo Edu and [thought] maybe he’d give us a bit more offensively.”

Sasha Victorine and Roger Espinoza came into the lineup for Kansas City, who have been struggling in recent weeks to recapture the form that saw them one of the early contenders for Supporters Shield honours in MLS this season.

The sun was shining at BMO Field for the visit of the Wizards, winless in their last six, and Toronto tried to put the pressure on early against Curt Onalfo’s men.

Jeff Cunningham was getting the lion’s share of chances for TFC, employing a 4-4-2 for the second week in a row, while Scott Sealy was threatening at the other end.

Guevara, Brennan and Edu were all introduced in the second half as Toronto went for Kansas City’s throat. The Wizards were pushing back with counterattacking play of their own, however, and TFC defenders Marvell Wynne and Marco Vélez had to be alert to make two important clearances in the last 15 minutes.

Toronto started to push harder in the closing stages, eager to give the home fans in the south end something to cheer about. Laurent Robert took a long range free kick in stoppage time that found the onrushing Danny Dichio. The Englishman volleyed home from close range, but just as he was wheeling away to celebrate, teammates Guevara and Robert were already arguing with the referee about the linesman’s raised flag. Offside, and the goal wouldn’t stand.

Robert was booked for dissent as his team made their way back to the half. Both sides were pushing for a late winner, but by the time Espinoza was sent off with just seconds remaining, the 0-0 scoreline was in the books.

Kansas City will hope to get their season back on track this Saturday when they take on Real Salt Lake at home, while Toronto visit New England the same night. The Reds then host Vancouver Whitecaps on July 1st – Canada day – in Canadian Championship action.

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League leaders visit BMO

Posted on 25 April 2008 by Scott Ferguson

Toronto FC will welcome table-topping Kansas City Wizards to BMO Field on Saturday afternoon, the second in a five-game home stand for the Canadian club.


The Reds’ fans will hope for a repeat of another occasion when the league leaders came to town — last year’s 4-0 drubbing of FC Dallas at the hands of a surging Toronto. Things are unlikely to be so easy this time around, however, with Wizards keeper Kevin Hartman in imperious form to start the campaign.

Last season’s corresponding fixture was the stadium opener at BMO Field, when Eddie Johnson spoiled the party with a late goal to sink Toronto. The American striker has since moved on to Fulham in England, however, and John Carver’s Toronto side will be confident to get on the scoresheet this time.

Indeed, since being shutout in Columbus on the season opener, Toronto have scored in three straight matches, with one-goal games coming on either side of a three-goal outburst in Los Angeles a fortnight ago. Five different players have hit the net for TFC, with the strike force of Danny Dichio and Jeff Cunningham each looking to add to their single tally so far.

Toronto have looked a different side from last season, and they’ll need to keep it up, having gained just a single point from their three meetings with Kansas City last year. Carver’s 4-5-1 formation may leave the lone frontman isolated at times, but the young side packed the middle and managed to keep a clean sheet against Real Salt Lake last week after going 1-0 up in the first half.

As with any second year club, Toronto must be patient as their new signings gel and begin to recognize each other’s strengths — and weaknesses. In order to shore up what looked like a leaky defence in a 4-1 loss at D.C. United and the 3-2 win in LA, the club has brought in veteran defender Olivier Tébily. The Frenchman has been training with the side for a number of weeks and may suit up for Saturday’s clash.

For their part, Kansas City are on a run of six straight away games. Curt Onalfo’s side began their road trip in the best way with a 1-0 win in Chicago last week, moving them to the top of the MLS standings. Designated player Claudio Lopez has been in great form for the Wizards, and it was his pinpoint assist at Toyota Park that allowed Jack Jewsbury to score the game’s only goal after four minutes.

In goal, Hartman recorded his second straight shutout and the 70th in his MLS career, an impressive total that makes him the all-time league leader.

Toronto are reporting a clean bill of health, while for Kansas City, Davy Arnaud looks set to miss out with a hamstring problem. Argentine maestro Carlos Marinelli may yet be declared fit as he looks to shake off a groin strain.

A home win on Saturday would set a new record for consecutive victories for Toronto, put them above .500 for the first time in club history, and make it two for two so far in their five-game run at BMO Field.

A slow start last season, coupled with a midseason collapse that wasn’t helped by an injury bug, put paid to any hopes of a playoff run in TFC’s inaugural campaign. This year, an unbeaten start to life at fortress BMO may be what the club needs to give their fans the playoff game in Toronto they so desperately want.

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