For the second weekend in a row Real Salt Lake heads into the Home Depot Center and leave with a huge win. Last weekend it was a 4-0 win over Chivas USA, and on Saturday it was a hard fought 2-1 win over the LA Galaxy. Huge as RSL win the season series with the Galaxy and gain valuable points that will play a huge role in the playoffs.
RSL is officially out of the hunt for the Supporters’ Shield as San Jose picked up their 19th win of the season and lead RSL by 9 points with two matches left. Still every point matters as both playoff positioning as well as potential hosting rights for MLS Cup will likely be decided by points won in the last weeks of the season.
For RSL the man of the match was clearly Fabian Espindola who last weekend provided 3 assists and this weekend scored both of RSL’s goals, his 8th and 9th of the season. Of course there was also some huge saves from Nick Rimando and incredible defensive work from all the guys which kept the 20 shots from LA out of the net 19 times. RSL showed that while they may like to play a style where they dominate possession, they don’t need to do that in order to win. It was quality of shots that mattered for RSL who took just 12 but had the same number (6) that ended up on goal and one more than they did that found the back of the net.
I couldn’t help but wonder what might have happened last year in the Western Conference final if RSL’s two center backs, Jamison Olave and Nat Borchers had been healthy? On Saturday night they were both huge with their positioning and awareness, against a very good offense. Our outside backs Tony Beltran and Chris Wingert were also very good on the night, both were but under a huge amount of pressure as LA’s attack almost always came from the outside. A good late sub bringing in Chris Schuler to add a bit of size and some fresh legs.
The middle of the pitch is was a real battle field all night as the action was so fast paced and wide open it was very impressive to see RSL do well in those battles as Kyle Beckerman was there to break up any number of LA attacks, as well as provide a key outlet for for his teammates when RSL was on the attack. I thought Jonny Steele had one of his best matches of the year filling in for Will Johnson, any time you have to spend a majority of your time dealing with David Beckham and Robbie Keane you know it will be important to be very sharp and Jonny was that. Luis Gil, while he didn’t get a lot of attention on the night, I thought he was very solid on both sides of the ball, and yes Dunny it does seem like people are now more focused on what he is doing on the pitch than the fact he is just 18 years old (drink). Javier Morales showed us again that he is starting to get close to the form he had in 2010 and early 2011 before the ankle injury that has really haunted him for the last year and a half.
Up top, Alvaro Saborio and Fabian Espindola showed that while they may not be as big of names as Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan or Kenny Cooper and Thierry Henry, they have to be considered one of the top duos of forwards in MLS. It was also very clear that heading into the most important stretch of the year, that these two are focused and ready.
It was an amazing match to watch, from start to finish there was a ton of action as both teams played a fairly wide open and attacking style. Over 900 combined passes were attempted by the two sides, and each team completed at least 82% of their passes. 32 shots were taken with a dozen being on goal, and just 22 fouls were called on the night. Of all the matches that have been shown on NBC Sports this year, that has to rank as one of the most exciting.
That’s How I See It