Real Salt Lake will be tired and shorthanded when they face Portland

RSL logo for blog

Last Saturday RSL lost their first match of the season a 4-0 thumping at Seattle, a second straight match where the team looked out of sorts as they tried to adjust to their many missing stars and what would be their first 3 matches in a week stretch of the season.  On Wednesday they held on in Columbus to get a 1-1 draw despite a short bench and a starting XI that included many changes from the previous match.  Now heading into their “World Cup Break” which means no MLS matches for a couple weeks but doesn’t account for what will hopefully be more than 1 US Open Cup match, the team will face a familiar foe as the Portland Timbers come to town Saturday evening.

The team will once again be shorthanded and given the extensive travel and two matches in the last week we will likely see another lineup with several changes and some signs of fatigue as the match wears on.  Both RSL and Portland have 3 wins, 2 draws and a loss in their last 6 matches of the MLS season, so current form is fairly even between the sides. Of course given the way last year went one can expect that the Timbers will be green around the gills as they look for some revenge against RSL who knocked them out of the US Open Cup, the MLS Playoffs and whom the Timbers have only beaten once since joining MLS (RSL holds a 5-1-3 regular season record, a 2-0-0 playoff record, and a 1-0-0 record against Portland in US Open Cup action). Still one has to believe that the Timbers have looked at RSL’s roster (depleted via injuries and World Cup call ups) and busy schedule and think that this might be their best chance to steal a win at Rio Tinto Stadium.

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Real Salt Lake look to make history at Seattle – Match Preview

RSL logo for blog

A couple years ago Real Salt Lake went on an amazing unbeaten streak at Rio Tinto Stadium, that streak was ended by Seattle, now RSL will be looking to set a new record for most matches without a loss to start a MLS season with a win or a draw at Seattle.  The record would be nice but for me it is about a team that has overcome so much already this season proving that together they are capable of amazing things.

With a completely new coaching staff entering into the 2014 season, including a rookie head coach in Jeff Cassar, expectations were tempered and when you factor in a rather brutal schedule (or what looked like on when it was released) I can assure you that nobody was talking about setting a record for most matches without a loss to start the season.  Then came the actual matches, the injuries, the call ups, more injuries, and some ugly matches, and here we sit heading into the 13th match of the season with a 6-0-6 record.  There are so many places that one has to give credit, the breakout season that Joao Plata is having with 6 goals and 3 assists, the surprise off season signing of Luke Muholland who has added 3 goals and 2 assists while playing in every RSL match so far this season, the dominance of Jeff Attinella when filling in for Nick Rimando with a 0.75 GAA, 2 clean sheets and a MLS save of the week.

Of course we also have the things that don’t surprise us, Kyle Beckerman’s commanding presence at the back of the diamond, which over the last two years have seen him claw his way back into the USMNT and onto the World Cup roster.  I am so very proud of the heart and passion that Kyle has brought to RSL over the years, nobody deserves a trip to the World Cup more than the most consistent player in MLS.  We have another MVP type season coming from Javier Morales, with 4 goals and 5 assists he continues to put his stamp on RSL and MLS as one of the best creative players the league has had.  The consistency of the RSL defenders, Chris Wingert, Nat Borchers, Tony Beltran, Chris Schuler, along with some great work from Aaron Maund as well.

That just scratches the surface of things that have lead RSL to where they are, when you think about Seattle, you have to think Clint Dempsey (8 goals, 3 assists) and Obafemi Martins (5 goals, 6 assists) two guys who struggled to make an impact at the end of the 2013 season but who have lifted the Sounders to the top of the MLS table early in 2014.  The Sounders have also gotten a real boost from some new players this season as Chad Marshall came over from the Crew and has looked like a younger and better version of himself in Rave Green while leading the Seattle backline, in the midfield Gonzalo Pineda and Marco Pappa have fit in nicely working with Osvaldo Alonso, and a mix of Lamar Neagle, Brad Evans and others.  At 8-3-2 the Sounders have done something that most MLS teams can rarely pull off, they have given up the first goal in 6 of their matches and found a way to come back and claim wins in 4 of them, that is impressive.

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A new anthem for the USMNT – We Stand United by Branden Steineckert

Risk Everything

So I am by no stretch of the imagination a huge music fan, but I have a huge respect for talented people who can make music that entertains.  Branden Steineckert (@801PUNX) is one of those guys, he was with The Used, he is with Rancid, but he is more than just a guy in a band, he is able to take his love and passion for soccer and use it to do amazing things.

First it was “Believe” his anthem for Real Salt Lake, which still gives fans like me chills every time I hear it live or watch the video for it, which has been viewed almost 1/4 of a million times. Branden is also a huge US Men’s National Team fan, and just like he applied his talent and passion for RSL to “Believe” we now have “We Stand United”, his anthem for the USMNT.

His ability to create chants that are easy to remember, have a catchy rhythm and still express his (our) passion for our teams is simply amazing.  I am proud to know Branden and far beyond his talent is a guy who is simply a great guy, always willing to say hi to fans, always willing to pose for a picture and whenever he is in Salt Lake City, I know where to find him when RSL is playing a home match, right in the front row of section 35 at Rio Tinto Stadium.

My advice to you is to watch the video, learn these lyrics:

HERE WE STAND UNITED
WE’LL NEVER BE DIVIDED
FIGHT AND SING FOR VICTORY
FOR EVERY GENERATION
WHO REPRESENT OUR NATION
AND BATTLE FOR THE USA

HERE WE ARE, WE ARE
UNITED STATES
AND WE ALL, WE ALL
CAN CELEBRATE
THAT WE ARE, WE ARE
UNITED STATES
AND PROUD TO BE THE USA

because I expect they will be heard from now on in every stadium where the USMNT plays, at least if we as fans have any sense about us.

Oh and if you want to buy the song from itunes you can.

Thanks Branden for all that you do to support RSL, the USMNT, and the beautiful game in general.

That’s How I See It

Another chance for the RSL family to do some good

flyer

Hey folks, every time there has been a need the #RSLFamily steps up to do amazing things for the people in need in our community, and this is another great chance to do just that.

I got the following information from Deb Donoviel Harper, who has helped on so many projects for so many people I am constantly amazed by her huge heard and passion for helping others.

Click here to view flyer

“I want to thank everyone for all their help and support on The Glad’s home. I am now moving from a VERY happy story, to a story that isn’t so happy, BUT CAN BE WITH OUR HELP. “WE” have been asked by Nat Borchers, Coach Cassar, along with other team members to step up and help one of our own, RSL Family member, Team Manager Salvador Perez.

Here is Nat’s personal note about Claudia and her disorder:

“Sal needs our help. His niece, Claudia Perez, has a rare genetic disease called Marfan Syndrome. Marfan Syndrome causes connective tissue degeneration. Connective tissue is what holds all of the body’s cells, tissues, and organs together. Because connective tissue is found all over the body, Marfan Syndrome can affect many areas of the body. For many people this disease is life-threatening. In the case of Claudia, the disease has affected her heart. Claudia needs multiple surgeries to stop the disease from shutting down her heart.

For her to survive, she will need prosthetic implants to help her heart to continue to function properly. These surgeries are highly complex. During these surgeries doctors will implant 3 different prostheses. Claudia is literally fighting for her life. The surgeries and the prosthetics are very expensive. Claudia needs to raise at least $30,000 just to pay for the deposit for these surgeries and prosthetics. The Perez Family is looking for donations for both the cost of these surgeries and for the cost of the prosthesis.”

No donation is too small. Thanks for you help!
Nat Borchers

So, we are putting together fundraisers (On the team’s personal time) to do just that, HELP. Until these events you can make ANY DONATION no matter how small at Childrenandtheearth.com and MAKE SURE you list TEAM RSL FAMILY in the comments.
They are a 501(C)3.

Also with Children and the Earth we have entered a team in Ride the Brainwave TEAM RSL FAMILY where you can register to either run the 5K, or join the Motorycycle Poker Ride. (PREREGISTRATION IS VERY IMPORTANT)

Any one who knows me knows it is “GO BIG OR GO HOME” so I want our team to be the biggest there! Come on RSL FAMILY, SUPPORTER’S CLUBS and anyone else, LET’S DO THIS. The event is great. There are bands throughout the day and the headline band this year in the evening will be Great White (Included with your registration)There is also a beer garden. So please join with me and let’s get Claudia the surgery she needs! I will have fliers at the tailgate lot tomorrow.”

No matter the cause I know that if Deb is behind it that it is not only is worthwhile but that it will change lives.  We can all do a little, which can go a very long way.

That’s How I See It

Real Salt Lake puts undefeated streak on the line in Rocky Mountain Cup Showdown

RSL logo for blog

If on March 7th you had said that you thought RSL would be undefeated after their first 10 matches, people would have laughed at you, but here we are.  It has been no small feat either, 6 of those 10 on the road, having 3 matches against the last two winners of MLS Cup, facing familiar foe Portland, revamped Toronto FC, oh and heading to Houston and Chicago two places RSL traditionally haven’t done very well, but here we are.  Now comes the first leg of the 2014 Rocky Mountain Cup, and while I have been rather dismissive of this “rivalry” with the Rapids in recent years the majority of fans still love it, and with RSL losing it for the first time in 6 years last season I guess it has picked up some steam again.

The Rapids entered this season with a lot of hopes, but then weeks before the season started they lose head coach Oscar Pareja to FC Dallas and the guy who provided such great motivation to a young over achieving roster last season is gone and the confusion about who would replace him went on for weeks until almost without other options they named Pablo Mastroeni as their head coach, a fierce competitor who saw his career cut short with numerous injuries.  Still as any player turned coach will tell you it takes time to transition, and while dealing with injuries and still a very young team they have started the season OK, 4-3-3 from their first 10 matches, but are just 1-2-2 in their last 5 matches.  We know that no motivational speeches are needed for either side, as players have embraced the fan driven rivalry, and I have little doubt that the Rapids don’t see a RSL side without Nick Rimando, Kyle Beckerman, or Alvaro Saborio as prime for the picking.

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Official Press Release on new Major League Soccer deal

Straight from MLS:

TV deal logos

For Immediate Release    

Major League Soccer and U.S. Soccer Sign Landmark Television and Media Rights
Partnerships with ESPN, FOX and Univision Deportes

  • Eight-year Agreements Begin in 2015
  • Nationally-televised Matches will be Anchored on Friday and Sunday
  • Univision Becomes First Spanish-language Network to have Exclusive Night with U.S.-based Major Professional Sports League  

 

NEW YORK (May 12, 2014) – Major League Soccer and U.S. Soccer have signed new television and media rights partnerships with ESPN, FOX Sports and Univision Deportes, reaching eight-year agreements with the networks to televise MLS and U.S. Soccer matches in the United States through the end of 2022.  The announcement was made today by MLS Commissioner Don Garber, U.S. Soccer CEO/General Secretary Dan Flynn, ESPN, Inc. President and Disney Media Networks Co-Chairman John Skipper, President, COO and Executive Producer for FOX Sports Eric Shanks and Univision Deportes President Juan Carlos Rodriguez.

For the first time in Major League Soccer’s history, all three television partners will feature an exclusive MLS Match of the Week, providing soccer fans throughout the country with a destination day and time for each network.  The Univision family of networks will televise a game of the week on Friday evenings — primarily on UniMás – and a wrap-up show on Sundays.  The Friday night match on the Univision family of networks will be the first time a Spanish-language television network will have its own exclusive night with a major professional sports league based in the United States.

Soccer fans will be able to enjoy a doubleheader of MLS action every Sunday, as ESPN and FOX Sports 1 will televise back-to-back MLS matches on Sundays at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. ET, respectively.  More than 125 MLS matches will be televised annually on the three networks.

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ESPN, Fox and Univision show MLS the money, now what?

MLS Logo

An estimated $90 million dollars a year is what the deal will be worth according to reports out this morning, that is a huge bump from the current $18-20 million a year and could be just the game changer that MLS needs to become one of the top leagues in the world, or is it?

Here are the details as provided by SBJ/SBD:

New TV

Now I have been more than a little critical of the level of commitment over the past decade by both ESPN and Fox, and you only have to look at the fact that not a single MLS match has been shown on ESPN/2 yet this year to know why.  The new plan calls for both to broadcast 34 matches a year, yes that is one each week (or equivalent of), and another one each week on Univision and now you have almost 100 matches being carried on a national level.  Now before you get too excited that actually isn’t a big move forward, this year NBC/S will have 40 MLS matches on, there are 48 on UniMas and/or Univision Dep. and 14 more on ESPN/2.  The big new will be the regular time spots, Univision on Friday nights, and both Fox and ESPN on Sundays, fans have asked for a regular time slot and they will now have it.  For me the big upside is that now national matches aren’t trying to compete with all the matches that are played on Saturdays, which I think will help ratings out a lot.

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Real Salt Lake remain undefeated against Vancouver, but some questions linger

IMG_5504

Oh Saturday night was one of emotional swings that RSL fans probably haven’t felt since December, the energy in the stadium in just minutes into the game as RSL takes an early lead on a great goal by Joao Plata.  Then to follow that up just minutes later with Ned fighting through some tackles in the area to get the ball to Sabo who curves an amazing ball into the net to give RSL a 2-0 lead in under 10 minutes. It doesn’t get much better than that, and you could see the confidence start to bubble up both with the players and in the stands.   The guys played perhaps the best 45 minutes of the season (so far) and it was a joy to watch as things just seemed to click.

Then came the second half, and upon hearing that Whitecap head coach Carl Robinson was rather boisterous in his halftime talk, the result was a Vancouver side that played better, pressured the ball better, started to use some of their pace better and their subs were spot on as the match progressed.  While usually we see teams start to suffer from the elevation later in matches but the weather conditions seemed to have negated that normal advantage RSL gets, and it showed as the match entered the last 10 minutes and stoppage time.

Now on twitter after the match I mentioned that Jeff Cassar has said often that he would likely make more aggressive subs than what Jason may have made, it is just his style and clearly with the subs on Saturday (as well as the bench selection).  Hindsight is always easy, and it was always funny how fans questioned Jason’s choices to go a bit more defensive minded when fans wanted more offense, and now with more offensive minded choices by Jeff, I find myself, and others wondering why those weren’t more defensive changes.

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25th anniversary of Hillsborough tragedy

(http://www.liverpoolfc.com)

So if you listened to Soccer Morning on the 11th you heard Jason interview Daniel Gordon who is the director of the ESPN 30 for 30 piece called Hillsborough that will air on April 15th 2014, the 25th anniversary of the tragedy.

What does this matter you might ask? For me it is part of the reason I am a Liverpool fan, and on April 15th 1989 was the first time I really became aware of LFC as the events of Hillsborough came to light.  I had been to soccer matches (MN Kicks of old NASL, Eintracht Frankfurt while stationed in Germany) in the past but wouldn’t consider myself a fan and it would be a good number of years before I would come to follow the sport more closely.  The events of Hillsborough however stuck with me, and while news wasn’t nearly as easy to find out as it is in the age of the internet, I tried to follow this story for a couple reasons.  First, the simply tragedy of people attending a sporting event and paying for it with their lives had a mesmerizing effect on me, I was a huge sports fan and something like this just seemed alien to me. Second was the fact that clearly the story was being managed by the media and others, and it sure seemed like there was a lot more to the story than what was being let on.  Whenever there is a tragic event people point fingers (you only need to watch the news on any given night to see this), but this was a bit odd that those in charge of the match were pointing fingers at the victims and that just didn’t sit well with me.

As time went on I became more of a soccer fan, thanks to the 1994 World Cup and the launch of MLS (the old days at the Horseshoe, or Cotton Bowl) and slowly as the internet and cable/satellite TV provided coverage of soccer from England and Europe I found myself drawn to follow Liverpool, in part due to the passion, grit and refusal of their fans to allow the injustices of Hillsborough to sit.  If you don’t know much about what happened, well here is a short video Sky Sports did on the 20th anniversary:

It was about 6 years ago that I started writing about Hillsborough, and while those first couple of blogs posts have been lost to history.  Here are the links to the last 4 years:

2010, 2011, 2012, 2013

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Real Salt Lake look to remain undefeated against Philadelphia Union – match preview

RSLvsPHI

So there are two meanings to that title, first is that RSL in 6 meetings has never lost to the Union, and of course RSL will look to remain undefeated in week 6 of the 2014 MLS regular season.  Since joining MLS, the Union are 0-2-4 with 5 goals scored and 9 goals allowed against RSL.  Of course they have never lost to RSL at PPL Park, a pair of 1-1 draws and a 0-0 draw in the most current match in Chester.  Last year the Union came close to beating RSL at Rio Tinto Stadium but a short handed stoppage time goal equaled the score at 2-2 and crushed the hopes of the Union fans for that first victory over RSL.

This year the Union have made some improvements to their roster, they picked up Maurice Edu, Vincent Nogueira, Fred, Austin Berry and most recently Andrew Wenger and with the first 2 have started all five of the Union’s matches and has helped their midifield lift it’s level of play. The Union will likely be without Danny Cruz and Sheanon Williams both of who are recovering from injuries, of course that is a mighty short list compared to the 11 players on the RSL list (some of who are possible or probable).  RSL will be without Joao Plata, Nick Rimando, Luis Gil and most likely both Tony Beltran and Chris Wingert, but as has been the case since the start of the season there are guys who are stepping up to fill those spots, we saw both Rich Balchan, Abdoulie Mansally and Jeff Attinella all get their first starts of the season last week in a match where they played major roles in helping RSL keep a clean sheet in their 0-0 draw with Sporting KC.

So can RSL find a way to keep their streaks alive?

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