Archive for October 2012

Real Salt Lake have to settle for another 0-0 draw

For the 3rd straight match (2 MLS & 1 CCL) Real Salt Lake have had to settle for a 0-0 draw, and while head coach Jason Kreis addressed the fans after the match to say the team has been saving up goals for the playoffs, I am not sure everyone is buying it.

Like the last two matches RSL has played the team dominated every aspect of the match, except for the scoreboard.  Saturday night it was 62.7% possession to 37.3%, it was 514 passes to 291, it was a 85% passing accuracy to 74%, it was 17 shots to 5, but only 3 shots on goal and none of them found the back of the net.

Heading into the playoffs there is no doubt that the RSL defense is up to the task, with just one goal allowed in the last 5 matches, and just 3 allowed in their last 10 matches.  A stretch where RSL is 5-1-4, but if you take out the 4 goal performance against Chivas USA a month ago, RSL has scored just 6 goals in those last 10 matches.  One of those is a good thing heading into the playoffs but the other not so much.

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Real Salt Lake vs. Vancouver Whitecaps – Season Finale Match Preview

It is kinda fitting that the last match of the regular season will be against the same team that the preseason began against back on February 10th, now just days away from November RSL will wrap up their regular season by once again taking on the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday night.

Both sides would like to have some positives from the match heading into the MLS playoffs that start next week, for RSL it is about trying to get some folks healthy as 4 defenders are listed on the injury report (Chris Schuler, Kwame Watson-Siriboe, Jamison Olave and Tony Beltran), for the Whitecaps it is about getting a positive result, they have struggled the last couple months and with their “wildcard” match against the Galaxy next week they need to get things going in a positive direction.

The Whitecaps have struggled on the road with a 3-10-3 record and just 10 goals scored and 24 allowed, while RSL has been solid at home with an 11-4-1 record and 27 goals scored and 15 allowed.  Neither side has come back from behind to get a win if they are trailing at halftime, RSL has come back after giving up the first goal to get 3 wins and a draw, while the Whitecaps have just a single victory and two draws after giving up the first goal.

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For RSL players their futures could be directly tied to the Vancouver match

It seems silly doesn’t it that the final match of the regular season where both sides already know they are in the playoffs and whom they will face, could hold so much potential sway for a team’s future, but it does.  For Real Salt Lake, this round of the Champions League ended on Tuesday night, and with it went the potential to earn some much needed allocation money.  However all may not be lost, on the final weekend of the MLS regular season five teams find themselves with a chance to claim third place in the overall league table, and that could be a very precious spot to hold.

San Jose and Sporting KC will finish #1 and #2 in the overall table, and both have already secured a spot in the 2013/14 version of the CONCACAF Champions league.  Should one or both of those teams advance to MLS Cup, then the team with the next best MLS record would secure one of the US’s four berths into the CCL.  With a berth comes allocation money, which always plays a huge role in what teams can and can’t do with their rosters.  With a number of RSL players at the end of their contracts, or on option years, we know that things will not be all sunshine and roses when it comes to building the RSL roster for 2013 and beyond.

So while each side might be tempted to rest some players heading into the playoffs, I expect that RSL will have to look at this as a time to get back on the positive side of a result after Tuesday. RSL is 4-1-2 in their last 7 league matches, having given up just 3 goals while scoring 9 in those matches.  On the other side will be the Whitecaps, who have qualified for the “wildcard” match and will take on the LA Galaxy next week, the boys from Vancouver have struggled since end of July and are just 1-5-1 in their last 7 matches, while they scored 6 goals in their last 7, all of those came in a 4-0 win over Chivas and a 2-2 draw with the Rapids, they have given up 8 goals in their last 7 matches.

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Real Salt Lake finds out that effort isn’t enough against CS Herediano

So if you looked at the stat sheet from Tuesday or watched the match you have little doubt who was the dominant team, but we live in a results driven world and for RSL the result wasn’t there.  Heck you can go back to the first match in Costa Rica, where despite being down a man for 30 minutes, RSL dominated possession, passing, shots, and shots on goal, but came up short in a 1-0 loss, to know that without scoring goals from all those chances, well it is hard to win a match.

Despite the weather on Tuesday, the match was very high action and fast paced in the first half with both sides creating some good offensive chances.  RSL had the better of play and had several chances to score, but as has happened too many times this year, we failed to finish those chances.  It should come as little surprise to anyone that as the second half progressed that Herediano packed it in and slowed down both the pace and the match as often as they could.  As the end of the match drew near we were left with a match that the official had lost control of as Herediano simply laid down, fell down, faked injuries, and even took intentional yellow cards for delay.  I am left wondering if when they first started those tactics (about the 70th minute) if he had issued a yellow or two for delay if the match might not have digressed to the pathetic level it did.

Still to lay blame on the officials or tactics/antics of CS Herediano for the loss would be wrong and missing the point.  In a must win match, you must score, you must take shots when they are presented to you, and must finish your chances.  RSL had 11 corner kicks, 18 free kicks, and 26 crosses from open play, and despite ending up with 18 shots and 8 of those being on goal, RSL was unable to get the single goal that would have advanced them to the knockout rounds of the Champions League.

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Real Salt Lake vs. CS Herediano – “For all the marbles” Match Preview

Tuesday night in Salt Lake City is forecast to be cold, wet, and nasty.  That is only appropriate  given that the play on a bit nasty as both sides will be looking to be the team that will advance from group 2 to the knockout rounds of the Champions League.  CS Herediano holds the upper hand as they currently have 9 points to RSL’s 6, for RSL the reality is simple: Win.  OK not that simple, RSL must either win 1-0, or they must win by 2 goals in order to advance.  A 1-0 win would see the two sides go to the tiebreakers, and it would be the 6th tiebreaker (GD in all group stage matches) that would give RSL the win with the 1-0 result (it would boost RSL’s overall GD to a +3, and drop Herediano to a +2).  A two goal win by RSL would give us the second tiebreaker (head to head GD) as RSL lost the first leg 1-0, so a 2 goal win would advance RSL via a different tiebreaker.

RSL faces a huge question on Tuesday, who will fill in for Alvaro Saborio?  Where will the goals come from?  RSL has scored just 3 goals in their 3 CCL matches so far this year, Saborio has two of them and Kyle Beckerman the other.  All of RSL’s goals in Champions League action have come in the second half of matches.  Real Salt Lake are 3-1-1 in their last 5 league matches and currently 5th in MLS with a 17-11-5 record.

CS Herediano on the other hand have scored 3 of their 4 goals in the first half of their matches, each of their goals has been scored by a different player: Elías Aguilar, Pablo Salazar, Waylon Francis, and Enoc Pérez.  It was Aguilar who scored against RSL when the teams faced off in Costa Rica.  Herediano are 2-1-2 in their last 5 league matches and currently sit in 3rd place in league play with a overall 7-3-6 record.

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Don Garber Speaks

A lot of the interviews and videos that MLS Comish Don Garber does end up on the MLS website, but I didn’t see this recent interview that he did with Sports Business Daily/Journal on the league site so I thought I would share it here.  There isn’t anything revolutionary or shocking said in the interview, just some thoughts about the progress of the league, the new playoff format, and of course New York 2.  Enjoy

Real Salt Lake face two huge matches this week, but which is more important?

It is an interesting question that plaques fans around Major League Soccer, and one that RSL fans are familiar with, “What matters most”?  Each year there are four trophies that MLS teams have a chance to compete for, the US Open Cup, the Supporters’ Shield, MLS Cup, and a select few teams compete for the CONCACAF Champions League trophy.  Which of these is the most important for teams and their fans?

I think that the Supporters’ Shield has lost a lot of the prestige it once held, now I know that some people will say that the new format of the season shouldn’t matter as MLS often played what was an unbalanced schedule in the past, and they are correct.  What those people miss is that in every season before 2012, every MLS team played every other MLS team at least twice a year, once at home and once away.  2012 marks the first time that the schedule failed to at least have that commonality to it, and while teams often would play more than those matches, they always at least played those.  So while the Supporters’ Shield holds a lower spot for many than it once did, it does still hold a couple of huge rewards for the team that wins it. First, the team with the best record can look forward to being the home team throughout the playoffs and that includes hosting MLS Cup if they make it that far.  Second, and maybe more importantly is a spot in the following years CONCACAF Champions League tournament.

Then there is the red headed step child of soccer in the US, the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup. I am not sure why this tournament has failed to take grip in the US, but I believe a part of the reason is that while soccer is very popular in the US, the lack of TV coverage both of MLS and the US Open Cup mean few people know the players or teams.  Of course some of the soccer purists I know will say that US Soccer’s constant changing of who can play in the tournament and how hosting rights are determined also hurt the legitimacy of the US Open Cup.  I am not sure if the US Open Cup will ever become as popular and important to fans and teams as it should be in the US, until there are core changes in the tournament, but while there is prize money at the end of the rainbow again the biggest prize is a coveted CCL spot.

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Did Major League Soccer sell out RSL by changing the schedule?

So on Wednesday Real Salt Lake will be in action against the Seattle Sounders, a time when both teams will be impacted by the FIFA dates for World Cup qualifying but RSL will be missing a lot more talent than the Sounders.  It is a match that shouldn’t be on the schedule.

Of course this match should have already been played, see this match was originally scheduled to take place back in mid-July, the 18th to be specific.  For RSL that match would have been during a very busy part of the season, RSL played a match at San Jose on the 14th, and then at home on the 21st against the Rapids.  Of course Seattle also would have been playing on little rest as they had a July 15th match on the road against the New York Red Bulls.  The match would have been just two weeks after the 0-0 draw the two sides battled to at Rio Tinto Stadium on the 4th of July.

This move took place before the MLS season started, so both sides had plenty of notice, but the reason for the move and approval from the league for such things show a continuing issue around Major League Soccer.  The match wasn’t moved to clear a date for FIFA qualifying, it was moved so the Sounders could sign a big name European team to a summer friendly.  Yes for the second straight year RSL gets treated like an afterthought by MLS in favor of mid-season international friendly matches.

Last year the circumstances were far worse as RSL had traveled to Vancouver for a match only to have it cancelled and rescheduled just a couple hours before it should have been starting.  It was the Whitecaps playing host to Manchester City, that had them lay down sod just 24 hours before a scheduled league match, which was made even worse as they failed to incorporate any drainage and it rained.  That match was rescheduled for October 6th last year, a match that RSL would lose 3-0.

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Real Salt Lake – 2015 Edition

So a couple of weeks ago when I was at RSL practice, I noticed something very distinctive about how the players were split into groups.  The more experienced/veteran players were in one group and the other was made up of most of your newer/younger players.  Then on Wednesday at the Reserve match I got to see a lineup for RSL that was very young in comparison to our normal starting lineup which features 7 players 30 years old or older:

  • Kyle Reynish – GK – 28
  • Carlos Salcedo – DF – 19
  • Kwame Watson-Siriboe – DF – 25
  • Chris Schuler – DF – 25
  • Kenny Mansally – DF – 23
  • Enzo Martinez – MF – 22
  • Yordany Alvarez – MF – 27
  • Sebastian Velasquez – MF – 21
  • David Viana – MF – 20
  • Emiliano Bonfigli – FW – 24
  • Justin Braun – FW – 25
At the 30 minute mark, Nico Muniz (MF – 19) came in at midfield, while Enzo went to defense as Kwame left the match (he is still recovering form injury).  This left me once again thinking about what RSL might look like in 2015.  Of course I also have to remember a couple of others who while they weren’t involved in the reserve match are 25 or under, like Luis Gil (MF – 18), Will Johnson (MF – 25), Tony Beltran (DF – 24), Paulo Jr (FW – 23), and Lalo Fernandez (GK – 19).
A couple of others just miss my 25 year old mark, Jonny Steele (MF – 26), Fabian Espindola (FW – 27), but could play a role in the future as well.

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Real Salt Lake will again take part in the FC Tucson Desert Diamond Cup

Earlier this year RSL was able to get some great preseason matches in against the New York Red Bulls, New England Revolution, and the LA Galaxy.  Next year they will again take part in the preseason tournament in Tucson, next year the Red Bulls and Revolution will return and be joined by the Seattle Sounders.  The tournament will take place in mid February with the following schedule:

Schedule of Matches*

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013

New England Revolution vs. Seattle Sounders

New York Red Bulls vs. Real Salt Lake

Saturday, February 16th, 2013

Seattle Sounders vs. Real Salt Lake

New York Red Bulls vs. New England Revolution

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013

Real Salt Lake vs. New England Revolution

Seattle Sounders vs. New York Red Bulls

Saturday, February 23rd, 2013

MLS 3rd Place vs. MLS 4th Place

MLS 1st Place vs. MLS 2nd Place

*Game times are TBA; schedule subject to change Read more