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RSL set numerous records in convincing 2-0 victory over Dallas

Posted on 17 October 2010 by Patrick McShane

Saturday night was a battle between two seemingly unmovable forces, when Real Salt Lake overpowered FC Dallas 2-0 to remain the Supporters’ Shield race and to join the 2005 San Jose Earthquakes as the only two teams in MLS history to go undefeated at home during the regular season. Though the early minutes of the match seemed to be a defensive grudge match, RSL were able to step up the tempo in the second half and pull away from Dallas in front of a record-setting home crowd of 20,236.

“It’s the first time this year that someone’s been that aggressive on our field in the first 15-20 minutes of the match,” noted RSL coach Jason Kreis. “I walk away from this game and probably feel the most proud about shutting out what’s a very, very good and dangerous attacking team.”

Veteran midfielder Ned Grabavoy earned his third goal of the season as he broke the deadlock in the 59th minute with a looping header over the top of Dallas keeper Dario Sala. While RSL created a number of offensive opportunities in the second half, one would be hard-pressed to have guessed that it would be Grabavoy who would score the game winner. Said Grabavoy: “I think I was just in a better spot. It was one of those balls where he is kind of backpedaling and I am seeing it the whole time. So I was kind of in the right spot at the right time.“

Dallas continued to press throughout the second half, but seemed to run out of gas while RSL’s midfield began to get a lock on the run of play and maintained the pressure on the Dallas back line. Things started to look worse for Dallas in the 83rd minute when physical defender Ugo Ihemelu was subbed out for young attacker Ruben Luna. Seeing that Ihemelu was largely responsible for neutralizing the RSL attack up to that point, one had to know that another goal was in the cards.

It took just six minutes for RSL to exploit the substitution when Andy Williams found substitute Robbie Findley open on the left wing for a free run on goal. Rather than try to force a shot from a tough angle, Findley wisely passed the ball to Javier Morales who casually knocked the ball past an onrushing Sala. With the goal, Morales now stands in second place on RSL’s scoring chart for the season with seven goals and he continues to press for MLS MVP consideration.

With only one road match remaining, RSL find themselves on the precipice of setting a number team and MLS records by seasons end. Having only given up 18 goals on the season, RSL needs to simply avoid a catastrophic letdown against their Rocky Mountain rivals next Saturday to set the MLS record for fewest goals allowed in a season. Additionally, if the team holds to form and secures a shutout next week, they will also set the MLS record for fewest road goals allowed in a season.

Even though the Colorado Rapids secured a playoff berth with a stunning 3-1 victory over the LA Galaxy, they will still have pride and the Rocky Mountain Cup on the line when they meet RSL, meaning both teams will hold nothing back despite their postseason futures already decided. “Every game has been a big game lately and we just keep on going and going and going,” noted Grabavoy. “We still have the Supporters Shield in our reach and that’s obviously a goal of ours, and as long as it is still there we are going to go for it.”

REAL SALT LAKE (15-4-10, 55 pts.) v. FC DALLAS (12-3-14, 50 pts.)

Scoring Summary:
RSL–Grabavoy 3 (Russell 5, Morales 9) 59
RSL–Morales 7 (Findley 4, Williams 7) 89

Misconduct Summary:
RSL — Fabian Espíndola (caution; Reckless Foul) 75
RSL — Andy Williams (caution; Reckless Foul) 80
DAL — Heath Pearce (caution; Unsporting Behavior) 88

FC DALLAS–Dario Sala, Heath Pearce, Jair Benitez, George John, Ugo Ihemelu
(Ruben Luna 83), Jackson Goncalves, David Ferreira, Marvin Chavez, Dax McCarty
(Atiba Harris 71), Daniel Hernandez, Milton Rodriguez (Jeff Cunningham 46).

TOTAL SHOTS: 5 (Cunningham 2); SHOTS ON GOAL: 3 (3 tied with 1); FOULS: 7
(Hernandez 4); OFFSIDE: 5; CORNER KICKS: 7;SAVES: Sala 1; CAUTIONS: Pearce
88; EJECTIONS: None.

REAL SALT LAKE–Nick Rimando, Robbie Russell, Tony Beltran, Jamison Olave, Nat
Borchers, Ned Grabavoy (Andy Williams 71), Javier Morales, Kyle Beckerman,
Will Johnson, Alvaro Saborío (Jean Alexandre 90), Fabian Espíndola (Robbie
Findley 78).

TOTAL SHOTS: 9 (Johnson 4); SHOTS ON GOAL: 3 (3 tied with 1); FOULS: 9 (Espindola 3); OFFSIDE: 5; CORNER KICKS: 5; SAVES: Rimando 3; CAUTIONS: Espindola 75, Williams 80; EJECTIONS: None.

Referee: Baldomero Toledo
Referee’s Assistants: Bill Dittmar; Greg Barkey
4th Official: Ramon Hernandez
Attendance: 20,236 (Rio Tinto Stadium record)
Weather: Partly Cloudy-and-71-degrees

?All Statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial

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Crew crumble 2-0 to rival RSL

Posted on 15 August 2010 by Patrick McShane

Real Salt Lake continued their scintillating play at home Saturday as the dispatched the Columbus Crew 2-0 to extend their home undefeated streak to 21 matches, just one away from the league record set by the Crew in the 2008-2009 season. With an upcoming CONCACAF Champions League match at home versus Arabe Unido of Panama, RSL were able to not only secure a vital victory, but also rest some of their key players in the process.

Fueled by media reports throughout the week noting the growing tension between the two squads, the 16,906 fans that came to see a physical grudge match between two top tier teams were not let down. Recently there have been stories citing a number of Crew players who made off-handed comments about the legitimacy of RSL’s championship run last season, after the unheralded Salt Lake squad took a losing record into the playoffs and dominated the favored Crew both home and away en route to a magical run to win the MLS Cup. With both teams currently having the second and third best records in MLS, it was not only a match filled with emotion but a vital contest as they are still in the running for the Supporters’ Shield.

From the opening minute both teams were trying to establish some dominance, with referee Jorge Gonzalez having to separate RSL’s Jamison Olave from Crew forward Steven Lenhart in the first five minutes of play. While the match had a surprisingly low number of cautions, with Frankie Hejduk earning the lone yellow card, this early battle set a theme for the entire match that was relentless for the entire 90 minutes.

Scoring a paltry single goal mid-week at Philadelphia, RSL were hoping to get on the score sheet early in order to set Columbus on their heals. Thankfully for the RSL coaching staff, midfielder Javier Morales answered that call as he blasted home RSL’s first goal less than 12 minutes into the match, putting RSL in the driver’s seat and on their way to a comfortable victory. Taking a short corner from Fabian Espíndola, Morales was able to run freely just outside of the Crew’s box as he lashed a rocket through traffic to the right post. Keeper Will Hesmer appeared lost on the play as Danny O’Rourke didn’t close down on the creative midfielder and he had far too much time to pick his placement for the shot.

While the Crew appeared to be more organized and poised in the second half, the match never really felt out of RSL’s control and it seemed like only a matter of time until the lead was extended. This potential was eventually fulfilled in the 60th minute after Ned Grabavoy was mugged from behind just outside of the box. It was again another perfect opportunity for Morales to excel, and he didn’t let fans down. As the positioning of the ball seemed a little too close for a shot over the Crew wall, Morales keenly powered the ball low and through the wall to the right, well beyond the reach of Hesmer.

Both teams now face a busy week as they play Wednesday night in the CONCACAF Champions League, with RSL playing their fourth match in 12 days. Thanks to the dominating performance, Morales only logged 63 minutes of play and standout newcomer Álvaro Saborío was able to rest the entire match. While it may be easy to assume that the players are tired and may not be able to get energized for Wednesday’s match, coach Jason Kreis feels that he won’t have a hard time finding players interested in competing. “Talking to quite a few of the guys last week, we made the decision to rest a bunch of them… I thought it was going to be a little bit of a sales job for me to tell them how important this tournament is for our club. As has happened many times before, my players made me very pleased because they were all saying how important it was to them.”

The match kicks off this Wednesday at 8:00 pm MST and can be seen on Fox Soccer Channel.

REAL SALT LAKE (11-4-6, 39 pts.) v. COLUMBUS CREW (11-5-4, 37 pts.)

Scoring Summary:
RSL — Javier Morales 5 (Fabian Espíndola 2) 11?
RSL — Javier Morales 6 (unassisted) 60

Misconduct Summary:
CLB — Frankie Hejduk (caution; Reckless Tackle) 48

Columbus Crew — William Hesmer, Frankie Hejduk (Jason Garey 81), Eric Brunner, Chad Marshall, Shaun Francis, Emilio Renteria (Leandre Griffit 56), Adam Moffat, Danny O’Rourke, Emmanuel Ekpo, Steven Lenhart, Guillermo Barros Schelotto (Dilly Duka 75).

Real Salt Lake — Nick Rimando, Robbie Russell, Nat Borchers, Jamison Olave, Tony Beltran, Ned Grabavoy (Nelson Gonzalez 82), Kyle Beckerman, Javier Morales (Andy Williams 63), Will Johnson, Robbie Findley (Pablo Campos 72), Fabian Espindola.

Referee: Jorge Gonzalez?
Referee’s Assistants: Craig Lowry; Ian Anderson?
4th Official: Yader Reyes?
?Attendance: 16,906

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RSL blast past unorganized Revs

Posted on 03 July 2010 by Patrick McShane

A packed house of 19,101 fans welcomed striker Robbie Findley back from the FIFA World Cup Friday night as Real Salt Lake blasted the New England Revolution 5-0. While most teams struggle to get a result on the road against RSL, it appears that New England labor more than most as the loss nearly mirrored the 6-0 beat down they endured at Rio Tinto Stadium last year. Goals from Fabian Espíndola, Jamison Olave, Findley, and two from Alvaro Saborío paved the way as RSL’s unbeaten streak reached nine matches and a home record 18 games without a loss.

While RSL’s overall team performance was impressive and dominant, New England assisted their effort by playing apathetic and indifferent for most of the evening. In fact, the only fight New England really displayed throughout the evening was between each other as RSL’s midfield tore through the opposition en route to a dazzling offensive display that the team has been patiently waiting for over the past month.

Both squads entered the match with a number of challenges. Despite holding the second spot in the Western Conference, RSL has been recently plagued by anemic offensive displays over the last three league matches and continue to endure personnel concerns. Captain Kyle Beckerman again failed to make the game day 18 after suffering a setback during the week as he attempts to come back from a foot injury. Midfielder Nelson González also remained unavailable as his loan status from club Quilmes Atlético in Argentina is still under negotiation. New England, on the other hand, continues to battle a myriad of injuries as well as a bit of an identity crisis as the club remains in contention in the East, but sadly boast one of the highest goals against in the league.

To some extent the final score doesn’t fully express New England’s effort over the first 15 minutes, as they were the far more aggressive and physical side while maintaining much of the possession. However, that effort and motivation quickly dissipated in the 27th minute when Espíndola latched on to a perfectly placed ball over the top from Robbie Russell and slotted the ball past New England keeper Matt Reis. Though the goal and effort seemed simple, it opened up RSL’s attack and triggered the flood that was to follow.

“From there on I think a lot of things are unlocked and New England has to change what they’re doing, has to try to chase the game,” noted RSL coach Jason Kreis. “As we’ve seen in the past, we’re a little bit of a difficult team to play against when we unlock things and have ourselves the lead.”

The rest of the match was clockwork for RSL, as they added a nifty header from Olave just before the half and then an easy tap in from Saborío off of another perfect cross from Russell just minutes into the second half. New England were suddenly in damage control mode as they began to restrict their attack and bunker in hopes of slowing down a now rampant RSL offense.

Though it could be assumed that the Olave goal before half broke New England’s spirits, coach Steve Nicol felt differently. “No, the third goal is the one that finishes it. If we can get some chances and maybe get a goal then we are right back in it. Again, the third one is the one that does it. It was just poor defending on the play.”

Saborío added his second tally just before the hour mark with a cheeky back heel flick on goal after a low, driven cross from Javier Morales. Findley finished off the match when he made a darting run on the left before cutting into the middle past a beleaguered Kevin Alston for a low rocket to the far post. It was Findley’s first goal for RSL in nearly two months and a strike that many hope will set the tone for the rest of the season as Findley struggled to find his form and make an impact in the MLS prior to his departure for the World Cup.

RSL will again have a short turnaround as they travel to the scene of last year’s Eastern Conference Final victory on Thursday to battle the Chicago Fire.

REAL SALT LAKE (8-3-3, 27 pts.) v. NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (3-9-2, 11 pts.)

Scoring Summary:
RSL — Fabian Espíndola 4 (Robbie Russell 2) 27
RSL — Jamison Olave 3 (Javier Morales 5) 47+
RSL — Álvaro Saborío 6 (Robbie Russell 3, Will Johnson 1) 52
RSL — Álvaro Saborío 7 (Javier Morales 6) 57
RSL — Robbie Findley 2 (unassisted) 85

Misconduct Summary:
RSL — Fabian Espíndola (caution; Tactical Foul) 22
RSL — Chris Wingert (caution; Tactical Foul) 47

New England Revolution – GK-Matt Reis; DF-Kevin Alston, DF-Cory Gibbs, DF-Emmanuel Osei, DF-Seth Sinovic; MF-Sainey Nyassi (Kheli Dube 61), MF-Shalrie Joseph (Joseph Niouky 56), MF-Jason Griffiths, MF-Chris Tierney; FW-Zack Schilawski, FW-Marko Perovic (Kenny Mansally 58).

Statistics: SHOTS: 10 (Tierney 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 4 (4 players with 1; SAVES: 5 (Reis 5); FOULS: 10 (Gibbs, Osei 2); CORNERS: 2 (Mansally, Perovic 1); OFFSIDES: 0

Real Salt Lake – GK-Nick Rimando; DF-Robbie Russell, DF-Nat Borchers, DF-Jamison Olave, DF-Chris Wingert; MF-Andy Williams, MF-Ned Grabavoy, MF-Javier Morales (Collen Warner 72), MF-Will Johnson (Jean Alexandre 61); FW-Álvaro Saborío, FW-Fabian Espíndola (Robbie Findley 46).

Statistics: SHOTS: 24 (Saborio, Williams 4); SHOTS ON GOAL: 12 (3 players with 2); SAVES: 4 (Rimando 4); FOULS: 9 (Saborio 3); CORNERS: 11 (Morales 10); OFFSIDES: 5 (Espindola, Findley 2)

Referee: Kevin Stott
Referee’s Assistants: Kermit Quisenberry; Peter Balciunas
4th Official: Tyler Ploeger
Attendance: 19,101

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Thunderstruck: RSL hand Galaxy first defeat of the season

Posted on 10 June 2010 by Patrick McShane

Lightening struck twice for Real Salt Lake on Wednesday night as they overcame a 37-minute lightening storm delay to later claim a controversial goal and a hard-fought 1-0 victory over league-leading Los Angeles Galaxy. With the victory RSL not only handed the Galaxy their first loss of the season, but they also continue their hot form as they are undefeated in their past seven matches and unbeaten at home in over 16 league matches. While the validity of the game-winning goal can be questioned, RSL were easily the better side all night long and continually put themselves into position to earn the victory.

Comparable to a grudge match between two gladiators rather than a beautiful display, the match carried a physical and urgent tone from the opening whistle and never let up. The Galaxy demonstrated why they’re running away with the Supporters’ Shield this season, remaining organized and tactically smart throughout the match despite missing many of their stars due to World Cup duty or injury. Comparatively, RSL did a valiant job breaking down the Galaxy defensive front throughout the match, earning 6 corner kicks in the first half alone, and created the majority of the dangerous chances throughout the match.

After the match, RSL coach Jason Kreis acknowledged the difficulties they face while trying to overcome a tough Galaxy side. “I just think they’re a really mature, composed, compact, and organized team defensively. They make things extremely difficult to break down. As I saw tonight, it was extremely difficult to get that goal. Interesting that it comes off a bit of a misplay.”

Much of the match was played in the middle of the pitch with both squads trying to make something magical happen in hopes of surprising their opponents. This resulted in a great deal of sloppy play by both sides and most of the attempts on goal coming from either long-range blasts or haphazard chaos in the box after a miscue. RSL finally found the much-desired breakthrough in the 80th minute after a nice bit of combination play between Alvaro Saborío, Javier Morales, and substitute Pablo Campos coupled with a questionable decision by referee Edvin Jurisevic.

Despite the nifty passing and interplay, Campos found himself deep in the Galaxy’s defensive third with nowhere to go. While Campos cut back to try and find an open space to pass or shoot, Galaxy midfielder Michael Stephens was able to catch up and knock the ball away. Unfortunately for Galaxy fans, and particularly keeper Donovan Ricketts, the deflected ball fell to Morales who had little work to do to casually slot the ball home thanks to being in what appeared to be a painfully offside position. While the Galaxy squad reacted in anger to the allowed goal, RSL players and the 19,513 fans in attendance celebrated a hard-fought and meaningful result.

The remainder of the match was an intense and heated affair, with both sides exchanging words and almost coming to blows on multiple occasions. Galaxy midfielder Juninho highlighted the anxiety of the final minutes with a goal-bound blast from 25 yards out that required a frantic diving save from RSL keeper Nick Rimando. Despite the pressure and final flurry it was RSL’s night as stoppage time wound down. RSL enter the much needed World Cup break on a high and now have the ability to heal and hope to get back many of the injured players they have lost over the past two weeks. Noted Kreis: “We end up on a really positive note. I am really pleased with where we are right now. We can take a little bit of a breather now and relax and enjoy some time off.”

REAL SALT LAKE (7-3-2, 23 pts.) v. LOS ANGELES GALAXY (10-1-2, 32 pts.)

Scoring Summary:
RSL – Javier Morales 4 (unassisted) 80

Misconduct Summary:
LA — Juninho (caution; Tactical Foul) 20
RSL — Andy Williams (caution; Tactical Foul) 63
?RSL — Javier Morales (caution; Shirt Removal) 81
?LA — Omar Gonzalez (caution; Tactical Foul) 85 ?
Los Angeles Galaxy (4-4-2) — Donovan Ricketts, Sean Franklin, Omar Gonzalez, Gregg Berhalter, Todd Dunivant, Michael Stephens, Chris Birchall, Juninho, Alex Cazumba (Eddie Lewis 78), Jovan Kirovski (Clint Mathis 63), Tristan Bowen (Alan Gordon 72).

Statistics: SHOTS: 7 (Juninho 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 3 (3 players with 1); SAVES: 2 (Ricketts 2); FOULS: 12 (3 players with 2); CORNERS: 4 (Mathis 2); OFFSIDES: 2 (Dunivant, Kirovski 1)
Real Salt Lake (4-4-2) — Nick Rimando, Robbie Russell, Jamison Olave, Nat Borchers, Tony Beltran (Chris Wingert 60), Andy Williams (Collen Warner 78), Ned Grabavoy, Javier Morales, Will Johnson, Alvaro Saborío, Fabian Espíndola (Pablo Campos 64).

Statistics: SHOTS: 9 (3 players with 2); SHOTS ON GOAL: 3 (3 players with 1); SAVES: 3 (Rimando 3); FOULS: 11 (Saborío 4); CORNERS: 10 (Morales 9); OFFSIDES: 1 (Saborío 1)

Referee: Edvin Jurisevic
Referee’s Assistants: Frank Anderson; Eric Proctor
4th Official: Tyler Ploeger
Weather: Cloudy-and-78-degrees / Attendance: 19,513

All statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial

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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.

Skip to the RSL player ratings!

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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RSL rescue deserved draw from Sounders

Posted on 11 April 2010 by Patrick McShane

It was a night full of celebration, disappointment, and mild satisfaction Saturday at Rio Tinto Stadium as Real Salt Lake fought back twice to rescue a 2-2 draw against the Seattle Sounders. It was the first time that RSL played in front of their home fans since winning the MLS Cup last season, and the 19,970 fans who arrived early to see the raising of the Champions Flag and the presentation of the Cup Rings had to be disappointed with the lost points at home.

When you’re done here, be sure to check out the photo gallery.

To the winners... ©Julie Harper/ASN

While RSL controlled much of the opening minutes with bright and creative play, it took Seattle just 11 minutes to silence the stadium after Steve Zakuani found himself open with acres of space to run at opposing keeper Nick Rimando. It was far too easy of a goal for Seattle as starlet Fredy Montero saw RSL defender Robbie Russell sleeping on an inbound pass and made a simple pass to the speedy midfielder for his first goal of the season.

Javier Morales was again in fine form for RSL as he controlled the pace of the match earlier on but just couldn’t find a way to apply the finishing touch. Sadly, Morales wouldn’t get a chance to assemble a comeback, as he had to leave the match before half due to a right groin strain. Midfield counterpart Ned Grabavoy also left the match due to injury, with the early diagnosis appearing to be much worse with a possible sprained knee.

The second half continued to produce quality chances for both squads, though there was a visible drop in crispness n the final third. However, all of these opportunities finally came to fruition in the 53rd minute when Russell made amends and whipped a cross deep into the box for a diving Will Johnson to head home. With the goal, it appeared that RSL might have enough time to mount an astonishing comeback and seal the victory.

Unfortunately for RSL, Sounders star Freddie Ljungberg was still fighting for every opportunity at the opposite end. His tenacity resulted in a free kick on the left wing late in the match that led to the go-ahead goal, when RSL defender Nat Borchers couldn’t hold off Sounders veteran Tyrone Marshall and inadvertently headed the cross into goal. By all accounts the match appeared to be over as Seattle seemed comfortable in defense as RSL couldn’t string a clean set of passes together.

But RSL were far from done. Bringing new marksman Álvaro Saborío in for burner Robbie Findley signaled RSL’s hope of stealing a goal off of a set play. Little did the faithful know, but this wouldn’t happen until late into added time, when standout substitute Nelson Gonzalez rocketed a perfect corner kick to Saborío who was just able to outmuscle his mark for a flick header to the corner.

While the crowd expected more than a draw from a team that traditionally dominates at home, there was a sense of relief throughout the stands, as the point taken seemed fair. There will be little time for RSL to lick their wounds as they travel back to where they opened the season to face the San Jose Earthquakes in the U.S. Open Cup on Wednesday. It is unknown how long either Morales or Grabavoy will be out, meaning there may be some tinkering to RSL’s lineup. One would also think that with the late goal, Saborío warrants future consideration for the match on Wednesday or possibly on the road versus the Galaxy next Saturday. As noted by Johnson, “I’d put my money on it that he scores a lot of goals this year for us.”

Real Salt Lake player ratings on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being best:

Rimando: 5 – Wasn’t really tested and not much he could have done on the opening goal. Maybe could have been a little more assertive on the late free kick, but that’s about it.

Russell: 5 – Would have been much lower had he not delivered the crucial cross for the first equalizer. Going into the match I had a feeling Zakuani was going to give him problems and that definitely seemed to be the case. Robbie hasn’t been horrible, but I’m curious how Tony Beltran has to be feeling right now.

Olave: 7 – Physically dominant and noticeably controlled in the box. Looks like last week’s penalty calls have given Olave some food for thought as he was in much more control and anchored the back line.

Borchers: 5 – Tough match for Nat. He did an admirable job throughout, but struggling to hold off Marshall and the late own-goal is pretty hard to swallow. Still, I shutter to think what the result would have been without him.

Wingert: 4 – I just don’t know about Chris. I wish I could see more production from him offensively, but he also makes me anxious defensively at times. Again – when does Beltran get some love?

Beckerman: 6 – After being rewarded this week with a brand new contract, Beckerman continued to hustle and fight with a tough Seattle midfield all night. Nothing outstanding, just consistent.

Johnson: 7 – When Johnson first came to RSL he was listed as an attacking mid and forward. There is definitely a part of me that would like to see him get forward more often for spectacular goals like Saturday’s, instead of sitting isolated on a wing

Grabavoy: 4 – Didn’t do much prior to his injury. I questioned his third consecutive start this week as I felt like Gonzalez and Williams both warranted more time with their recent play. Now it looks like we’ll see just how much they deserve it, as Ned faces an extended period of time on the sideline.

Morales: Incomplete – I saw another stellar performance in the making early in the match from Morales. Unfortunately, Javi picked up an injury and RSL noticeably struggled.

Espindola: 5 – After last week’s late headlock tackle on Bobby Boswell, I’m officially on board with those that think Espy is a bit of a head case. That said, his speed, left-footed ability, and motor make him a must-start every week.

Findley: 4 – Still waiting for Findley’s opening tally of the season. One could argue that while he isn’t pounding them in to the back of the net, he is at least involved in many of the positive plays and goals. While true, I’d still like to see him have a better killer instinct around goal as he lazily hit a couple sitters straight at Keller.

Williams: 5 – Night and day between Andy and Javi. Williams isn’t a huge drop off in terms of control and passing, but he definitely is a little less creative on attack holds to ball up too often. Maybe more playing time in Javi’s absence will settle him a bit.

Gonzalez: 7 – Man-crush is a bit too much, but I must admit that I’m a pretty big fan of Gonzalez. While he still needs to work on his touch and patience when pressured, his energy and skill is something RSL hasn’t seen on the wing before.

Saborío: 6 – Hard to knock someone who provided a late equalizer, but there’s still a part of me that thinks that Sabo can do better. He struggles at times to link up with teammates in the final third and is probably still finding his role with the team. I’m excited to see what he can bring to the team in the middle of July once he’s acclimated.

Real Salt Lake (1-1-1) v. Seattle Sounders FC (1-1-1)
Saturday, April 10, 2010 – Rio Tinto Stadium

Scoring Summary:
SEA – Steve Zakuani 1 (Fredy Montero 2, James Riley 1) 11
RSL – Will Johnson 1(Robbie Russell 1, Robbie Findley 2) 53
SEA – own goal (Nat Borchers) 72
RSL – Álvaro Saborío 1 (Nelson Gonzalez 1) 94+’

Real Salt Lake – GK-Nick Rimando; DF-Robbie Russell, DF-Nat Borchers, DF-Jamison Olave, DF-Chris Wingert; MF-Ned Grabavoy (Nelson Gonzalez 45), MF-Kyle Beckerman (Capt.), MF-Javier Morales (Andy Williams 39), MF-Will Johnson; FW-Robbie Findley (Álvaro Saborío 78), FW-Fabián Espíndola.

Seattle Sounders FC – GK-Kasey Keller (Capt.); DF-James Riley, DF-Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, DF-Tyrone Marshall, DF-Leo Gonzalez (Tyson Wahl 48); MF-Pat Noonan, MF-Brad Evans, MF-Osvaldo Alonso, MF-Steve Zakuani (Roger Levesque 78); FW-Freddie Ljungberg, FW-Fredy Montero (Nathan Sturgis 73)

Misconduct Summary:
SEA – Tyrone Marshall (caution, Reckless Tackle) 56
RSL – Chris Wingert (caution, Tactical Foul) 60

Referee: Abby Okulaja
Referee’s Assistants: Frank Anderson, Steven Taylor
4th official: Tyler Ploeger

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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.

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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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D.C. downed by RSL

Posted on 12 April 2009 by Patrick McShane

Morales got the game winner 10 minutes from time

Real Salt Lake continued their home dominance Saturday, beating D.C. United for their second win of the season and their first back-to-back win in over a year and a half. After falling behind in the 39th by way of a Luciano Emilio header, RSL fought and clawed their way back into the match, outshooting United 15-6 on the evening, to control the second half and earn a well-deserved victory.

Expectations were high for RSL as they were riding a wave of euphoria from their impressive victory over reigning MLS Cup Champion Columbus Crew. For the first 30 minutes RSL lived up to those expectations, creating repeated attacking chances while nullifying United’s opportunities. However, all of that promise quickly went away when Emilio bodied defender Nat Borchers out of the way for a header after rookie sensation Chris Pontius placed the perfect ball into the box. Keeper Nick Rimando didn’t stand a chance at stopping the shot as it rolled into the far left corner of goal.

Instead of self-destructing and letting United back into the match, RSL matched last week’s effort and scored the equalizer less than two minutes later. Throwing the ball in on the left, midfielder Will Johnson collected the ball back from Robbie Findley and launched a perfect cross into the box for an onrushing Jamison Olave. United keeper Louis Crayton was able to get a hand on the ball, but Olave’s header was too powerful and trickled into the net.

RSL continued their high-flying attack throughout the second half, but had little to show in terms of goals. Findley continued his scintillating form from the previous week, running all over the United defense while creating chances for himself and striking partner Yura Movsisyan. Both strikers, along with midfielder Kyle Beckerman, almost scored in the second half with only the crossbar and great goalkeeping by Crayton standing in their way.

Ten minutes from time, all fears were eased when RSL’s attacking prowess finally came to fruition. Quickly passing the ball around on attack, Johnson found Beckerman unmarked 30 yards out from goal. While driving forward, Beckerman placed a heavy pass to Findley who softly knocked the ball back to an open Javier Morales to slam past the keeper. The 11,793 rain-soaked fans finally had their positive result and RSL finally had their back-to-back victory.

Said coach Jason Kreis after the match: “It’s huge. We set it out for them at the beginning of the season, and I reminded them again yesterday that it was an opportunity to win two games in a row, which we didn’t do all of last year. I think the guys are very happy that they have won two in a row, and now they want three.” RSL will look to earn their third win next week as they face New York Red Bulls in a rematch of last year’s the Western Conference finals.


After last week’s debacle over Tony Beltran’s 3.5 rating, I’ve decided this time to use a 1-5 scale, with 1 = terrible, 2 = below average, 3 = average, 4 = above average, and 5 = outstanding.

MAN OF THE MATCH: Jamison Olave – 5
It was just another blue-collar day at the office for Olave. Not only did he score the tying goal, but he also tormented United’s strikers all afternoon with physical, yet savvy, force.

Rimando: 3 – Another week of little-to-no activity for Nick. However, I’m sure RSL supporters wouldn’t have it any other way after past RSL squads have been apt to bleed goals.

Beltran: -7 (just kidding!): 2 – Despite last week’s disagreement, Beltran again did little to impress the fans, Jason Kreis, or me. There’s a reason he was subbed off so early for an unproven rookie (Beltran looked pretty lonely at the end of the bench once he was subbed out). He seemed lost when marking defensively and clueless on attack.

Borchers: 2.5 – While he couldn’t muscle Emilio out of the way for the opening goal, he still held down the backline while Olave pushed forward.

Wingert: 3 – Played his best soccer of the season when he moved his natural right side in the 60th minute. Nothing spectacular, but nothing detrimental.

Mathis: 3.5 – I am firmly seated on the “2009 Mathis bandwagon.” He did a great job instigating the attack early on and maintained possession in the second half. That said; it was an appropriate substitution by Kreis to put Grabavoy on when Mathis seemed winded.

Beckerman: 4 – Another week of great two-way play by the “dreaded one.” It’s unfortunate that his blast in the second half ricocheted off the bar, as it would have challenged for goal of the year.

Morales: 5 – Finally shook off the rust from the first two matches and delivered an all-around performance that the fans demanded. He was unlucky to have not earned an assist in the first half as he had two dangerous crosses into the box. While delivering the go-ahead goal was impressive, it was his tracking back on defense to stop a 2-on-2 break that really stood out to me. Welcome back, Javi.

Johnson: 4 – Notched his first points of the season with the assist to Olave and never stopped moving. Only a McTavish body-check late in the match slowed him down.

Findley: 5 – Followed up last week’s breakout performance with two assists and a relentless effort on attack. The former “super-sub” is starting show signs of being a star.

Movsisyan: 3.5 – Nobody deserved a goal more than Movsisyan, and he almost earned it when he headed a cross from Wingert on goal. Unfortunately, Crayton made a spectacular save and Movsisyan must wait another week to open his tally for the season. His positioning and strength is a great compliment to Findley’s speed

Cox: 3.5 – Cox delivered the surprise performance of the night after subbing on for an ineffective Beltran. He pushed the ball on attack and created a sense of excitement every time he touched the ball. His rating would have been higher had he played longer.
Grabavoy: 3 – Another midfielder cut from the Johnson/Beckerman mold. He didn’t stop moving and fought for every possession.
Williams: N/A – Came on for garbage time while Rimando was killing the clock.

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DC United at Real Salt Lake, April 11, 2009

Scoring Summary:
DC — Luciano Emilio 3 (Chris Pontius 1, Fred 1) 38?
RSL — Jamison Olave 1 (Will Johnson 1, Robbie Findley 1) 40
RSL — Javier Morales 1 (Robbie Findley 2, Kyle Beckerman 1) 80

D.C. United — Louis Crayton, Bryan Namoff, Dejan Jakovic, Marc Burch, Fred (Devon McTavish 69), Christian Gomez (Francis Doe 76), Andrew Jacobson, Clyde Simms, Rodney Wallace (Santino Quaranta 82), Chris Pontius, Luciano Emilio.

Real Salt Lake — Nick Rimando, Tony Beltran (Raphael Cox 59), Nat Borchers, Jamison Olave, Chris Wingert, Clint Mathis (Ned Grabavoy 74), Kyle Beckerman, Javier Morales, Will Johnson, Robbie Findley (Andy Williams 89), Yura Movsisyan.

Misconduct Summary:
RSL — Javier Morales (caution; Unsporting Behavior) 15
RSL — Chris Wingert (caution; Tactical Foul) 25
RSL — Nat Borchers (caution; Tactical Foul) 35
DC — Christian Gomez (caution; Dissent) 39
DC — Marc Burch (caution; Tactical Foul) 75
DC — Devon McTavish (caution; Reckless Foul) 91+

Referee: Kevin Stott
Referee’s Assistants: Philippe Briere; Peter Balciunas
4th official: Tyler Ploeger
Attendance: 11,793
Weather: Cloudy -and- 53 degrees

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RSL end Dallas playoff hopes

Posted on 19 October 2008 by Patrick McShane

Movsisyan and Serioux tangle ©ASN/Julia Fizer

Real Salt Lake inched one step closer to their first playoff appearance Saturday night as they casually dispatched of a FC Dallas squad playing with only 10 men after the 30th minute. It was make-or-break time for RSL as they played their second – and what could have been their final – match in their new stadium this season. Both Dallas and RSL entered the match fighting for the playoff lives, and for the first 20 minutes, it appeared that Dallas were the more hungry of the two teams.

RSL were in a hole within 7 minutes as Dallas converted a throw in from standout defender Adrian Serioux. Dallas jumped all over RSL from the opening whistle, earning numerous throw-in opportunities in dangerous areas while RSL seemed low on energy and apathetic. Serioux finally found a target on his third long-distance throw as he placed the ball perfectly to the head of an onrushing Marcelo Saragosa who nodded the ball home past a diving Nick Rimando. However, it appeared that the 1-0 hole knocked RSL awake as they began to find their legs and push forward.

The match continued to fluctuate between both teams until the 30th minute when Saragosa’s heroics now turned to villainy as he was ejected from the match for his second bookable offense. After receiving a yellow card just minutes prior for obstruction and a pushing match with RSL midfielder Dema Kovalenko, Saragosa was already being watched by head referee Kevin Stott when he came flying in to challenge RSL defender Robbie Russell for a header with his right elbow raised. It didn’t take a moment for Stott to award Saragosa his second yellow, subsequently giving RSL a man advantage for over an hour.

©ASN/Julia Fizer

It took RSL just five minutes to capitalize on Saragosa’s ejection as forward Yura Movsisyan continued his hot streak and fired home his sixth goal of the season off of a Drew Moor deflection. Receiving a beautiful pass from midfielder Javier Morales just at the top of the box, Movsisyan spun on Dallas captain Duilio Davino and fired a beautiful shot that took a ricochet off of Moor who was sliding to disrupt the play. One could sense that RSL was beginning to gain confidence off of the draw as they created several chances in the final minutes of the first half, including a dangerous header from Russell that required a diving save from Dallas keeper Dario Sala.

The second half appeared to be a continuation RSL’s lively attack despite Dallas reverting to a 4-4-1 formation to combat Saragosa’s loss and bunker on defense. This tactic seemed to do little to slow RSL’s attack as they continued to press on the wings, particularly with the addition of Andy Williams who replaced Kovalenko at half. RSL’s attacking buildup finally came to fruition in the 54th minute when midfielder Will Johnson rocketed home a spectacular shot to give RSL the 2-1 lead they had been chasing all match. Receiving a pass from Chris Wingert at the top of the box, Johnson popped the ball up with his toe and volleyed in a one-touch shot that bounced off of the right bar and in.

Ian Joy ©ASN/Julia Fizer

Even with the lead secured, RSL continued to press for a third goal to put the match out of reach. Unfortunately for the nerves of the 17,628 fans in attendance, it took until the 86th minute for RSL to finally gain the breathing room they desperately wanted. Countering after Dallas carelessly gave away possession, Morales and Williams combined on a tight passing play that resulted in the perfect setup to striker Robbie Findley who put home a beautiful shot to the top right corner of goal just beyond Sala’s reach. Not only was the goal important for RSL and their efforts in the match, it was also important for Findley who was looking to break out of a goal-scoring slump. “That’s what they put me in for at the end of the game, to add a little spark and hopefully to put the game away, if I can. I’ve been in a little drought, so to get that goal definitely helps me out a lot.”

With the win secured, RSL began to let down offensively and celebrate the possibility of their first playoff appearance. Unfortunately, Dallas were also considering their fortune of now being eliminated from playoff contention due to Kansas City & New York wins earlier in the night. This frustration spread to the players as Dallas earned their second red card of the night due to a reckless tackle from Pablo Ricchetti against Johnson. Despite the negative conclusion to an otherwise incredible night, RSL knew that they could now focus on watching Sunday’s match between Colorado and Chivas USA as that game determines the final step in their march towards the playoffs.

If Colorado fails to win (a loss or a draw) against Chivas, RSL will clinch the third automatic berth in the Western Conference, resulting in a potential home match on November 1st in a semifinal series against Chivas. Said coach Jason Kreis after the match: “We’ll be watching the (Chivas USA-Colorado) game tomorrow with our fingers crossed, hoping things go our way.”





FC Dallas at Real Salt Lake
Oct. 18, 2008, Rio Tinto Stadium, Sandy, Utah.
Scoring Summary:
DAL — Marcelo Saragosa 1 (Adrian Serioux 3) 7
RSL — Yura Movsisyan 6 (Javier Morales 14) 35
RSL — Will Johnson 2 (Chris Wingert 3) 54
RSL — Robbie Findley 6 (Javier Morales 15, Andy Williams 3) 86

FC Dallas — Dario Sala, Adrian Serioux (Eric Avila 58), Duilio Davino, Drew Moor, Blake Wagner, Victor Sikora (Dominic Oduro 71), Bruno Guarda, Pablo Ricchetti, Marcelo Saragosa, Jeff Cunningham, Kenny Cooper (Jamie Watson 79).

Real Salt Lake — Nick Rimando, Chris Wingert, Jamison Olave, Robbie Russell, Ian Joy, Kyle Beckerman, Dema Kovalenko (Andy Williams 46), Javier Morales, Will Johnson, Clint Mathis (Kenny Deuchar 89), Yura Movsisyan (Robbie Findley 73).

Misconduct Summary:
RSL — Robbie Russell (caution; Reckless Foul) 10
DAL — Marcelo Saragosa (caution; Unsporting Behavior) 22
RSL — Dema Kovalenko (caution; Unsporting Behavior) 22
DAL — Marcelo Saragosa (ejection; Second Caution) 30
DAL — Eric Avila (caution; Reckless Foul) 68
DAL — Duilio Davino (caution; Reckless Foul) 77
DAL — Pablo Ricchetti (ejection; Violent Conduct) 90

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A night of firsts as RSL claim top of the West

Posted on 14 July 2008 by Patrick McShane

Nunez keeps his eye on the prize ©ASN/Julia Fizer

Saturday night was a night of firsts for Real Salt Lake as they rolled to an impressive 2-0 victory over the Columbus Crew. RSL rookie striker Tino Nuñez notched his first professional start in the MLS as he formed a surprise starting strike team with Yura Movsisyan. Defensive midfielder Nathan Sturgis saw his first minutes of action since injuring his hamstring on April 19 against Toronto FC by entering the match with one-minute left in regulation. But most important to the team and their supporters is the fact that RSL catapulted into first place in the Western Conference for the first time in team history

The Crew entered the match enjoying a four match unbeaten streak and looked poised to steal the first win of the season on RSL’s home turf of Rice-Eccles Stadium. On the other hand, RSL were still reeling from a draw at home the previous week to the Houston Dynamo in a match that yielded six yellow cards as well as the ejection of RSL defender Chris Wingert late in the match. This meant that outside of the new look strike pairing, RSL would also be starting a makeshift defense on the wings.

Because of these changes, one wouldn’t fault RSL if they had started the match unorganized and sluggish. However, few could predict that RSL would be holding a 1-0 lead and be in firm control of the match after just four minutes. While stellar midfielder Javier Morales is not typically known as a goal scorer, he is well known for his technique with free kicks and one could feel the anticipation from the 12,378 fans in attendance as he stepped up to take a kick Movsisyan had earned at the top of the box. While Morales didn’t strike the kick as effectively as he might have wanted, he did not disappoint as he drove the ball in-between two Crew defenders to the right of a diving William Hesmer.

Despite the early goal, the Crew could have easily passed it off as a fluke occurrence and taken control of the match. However, the emotional response needed never happened and RSL continued to control possession and repeatedly attack a flustered Crew back line beyond the best efforts of defender Chad Marshall. In fact, it was the size and strength of Marshall versus the smaller strike tandem of Nuñez & Movsisyan that prohibited RSL from extending their lead before half. In return, the Crew had only a handful of opportunities for the remainder of the half, mostly in the form of corner kicks and by means of both dangerous and wildly errant crosses.

Hejduk and Marshall make a Movsisyan sandwich ©ASN/Julia Fizer

Though it appeared that RSL had control of the match, they struggled to find a second goal to push themselves to safety. This inability almost came to haunt them in the 50th minute when Argentine midfielder Guillermo Barros Schelotto collected a poor clearance about thirty yards out from goal and riffled a shot beyond the outstretched arms of keeper Nick Rimando. Unfortunately for the Crew, Schelotto’s shot ricocheted off of the left post and was cleared out of bounds. This chance would be the last close call for Columbus and signaled a significant change in the flow of the match.

With approximately 20 minutes left in the match, RSL had completely realigned their attack, replacing both Nuñez and Movsisyan for usual starters Robbie Findley and Kenny Deuchar. These changes had an immediate impact as Findley utilized his speed against a tired Crew defense, while Deuchar began to manhandle a now tired Marshall. This new combination in attack paid off in the 78th minute when Deuchar headed on a lob pass from Morales to a speeding Findley. Knocking the ball past Hesmer as he came out to collect, Findley hardly took a moment to drill the ball into the back of the net despite Danny O’Rourke’s diving tackle. It appeared that the tactic implemented by RSL coach Jason Kreis paid off just as planned, as confirmed by Findley after the match. “That is the whole point. Jason [Kreis] said they were going to bring us (Findley and Deuchar) on late when they were tired, and it ended up in a goal.”

RSL will have little time to enjoy this win and they now begin a lengthy road schedule with four of their next six matches in hostile territory. If RSL want to make this first visit to the top of the Western Conference a lengthy stay, they need to focus on improving their road performance and stealing points whenever possible. If captain Kyle Beckerman’s post-match sentiments speak for his squad, one would think they’d look particularly formidable. “Right now is not the most important time to be in first place. That is going to be at the end of the year. We wanted to be in this position since the start of the season, and to get there is a big feat. We just need to keep going and keep learning and keep getting better as a team.”


Match Facts

Scoring Summary:
RSL — Javier Morales 3 (unassisted) 4
RSL — Robbie Findley 4 (Kenny Deuchar 1) 78

Columbus Crew — William Hesmer, Frankie Hejduk, Chad Marshall, Danny O’Rourke, Ryan Junge (Stefani Miglioranzi 56), Emmanuel Ekpo (Duncan Oughton 51), Brian Carroll, Brad Evans, Robbie Rogers, Guillermo Barros Schelotto (Steven Lenhart 70), Alejandro Moreno.

Real Salt Lake — Nick Rimando, Tony Beltran, Nat Borchers, Jamison Olave, Ian Joy, Andy Williams (Nathan Sturgis 89), Dema Kovalenko, Javier Morales, Kyle Beckerman, Yura Movsisyan (Robbie Findley 64), Tino Nunez (Kenny Deuchar 69).

Misconduct Summary:
CLB — Duncan Oughton (caution; Reckless Foul) 65
RSL — Kyle Beckerman (caution; Reckless Foul) 78
RSL — Tony Beltran (caution; Reckless Foul) 81
RSL — Nat Borchers (caution; Reckless Foul) 90

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