Archive for June 2013

Time for Real Salt Lake and US Soccer fans to have some fun

Oh I know it is the start of the week, and many of us may be at work today, but that is no excuse not to enjoy the next 48 hours.  As soccer fans, the chance to host a World Cup qualifier is a rare event, and we in Salt Lake City are lucky as the US is back in town and a win on Tuesday will all but ensure their spot in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

So before the actual match, are some fun events, both official and unofficial, so lets take a look at what is going on today:

First up the official list of events from US Soccer:

U.S. SOCCER FAN ACTIVITIES

Monday, June 17
U.S. Soccer Fan Headquarters 
Time: 5 p.m.
Location: The Depot (400 W. South Temple)

U.S. Soccer Pep Rally 
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Location: The Depot

U.S. Soccer is holding a free Pep Rally at The Depot in Salt Lake City at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, June 17to energize fans the night before the U.S. Men’s National Team hosts Honduras in a crucial World Cup Qualifier on June 18 at Rio Tinto Stadium in nearby Sandy, Utah. U.S. MNT head coach Jurgen Klinsmann and select players will be on hand to interact with fans in attendance.

The Depot (400 W. South Temple) is one of Salt Lake City’s most unique music venues and is conveniently located on the TRAX light rail system (exit at the Arena station on South Temple).

Leading into the Pep Rally, fans can come out to U.S. Soccer’s Fan Headquarters (#FanHQ) at The Depot at 5 p.m. to take part in other activities. Fans can participate in a EA Sports FIFA 13 video game competition, which will be displayed on a giant screen, play small-sided street soccer, answer trivia questions to win prizes and pick up giveaways, such as a small version of the game-specific poster for USA-Honduras designed by Eric Elms.

Of course there are some other events as well

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Real Salt Lake faces the Charleston Battery in the 4th round of the US Open Cup

Wednesday evening Real Salt Lake will play host to USL Pro side the Charleston Battery in US Open Cup action, this fourth round match will determine who moves on to host a quarterfinal match up in two weeks.  This is one of those matches that the MLS side should win, and with a 10 day break before their next match Real Salt Lake should be able to put our their top notch lineup, now I think a couple of guys like Sebastian Velasquez, Olmes Garcia, and Lovel Palmer might push their way into the starting lineup, as RSL head coach Jason Kreis has a number of great options who have stepped up at every level they have been asked to.

It would be easy for us to think that Charleston doesn’t pose a real threat but you should know that, they have beaten 9 MLS sides in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup; DC United (1999), MetroStars (2001, 2004), Houston Dynamo (2007, 2008), FC Dallas (2008), Chivas USA (2009), Chicago Fire (2010) and San Jose Earthquakes (2013).  You can also add in their preseason matches which often feature MLS opponents, this year one of those matches was a 2-1 win over the Houston Dynamo. A quick look at their roster shows that they have some size that RSL will have to deal with, 8 players 6’0″ or better without counting keepers.  They also have some guys with time or trials in MLS:

  • Amadou Sanyang – has spent time with Toronto FC and Seattle
  • Ben Fisk – time with the Vancouver Whitecaps developmental team
  • Jarad van Schaik – who was drafted by RSL but never made the roster

The Battery are currently in 3rd place in USL Pro with a record of 7-3-2 with 22 goals scored and 13 goals allowed.

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Two down for Real Salt Lake, four more to go in June?

Well I said it several weeks ago that June could be the most important month of the season for Real Salt Lake.  With three huge Western Conference league matches at home, all against 2012 playoff teams it was critical that RSL get as many points as possible.  San Jose and the LA Galaxy both found themselves on the wrong end of the final score this month, and final days of RSL advanced past the Atlanta Silverbacks, even if it did take and extra 30 minutes.  In each of these matches RSL showed that they can score goals even without Alvaro Saborio in the lineup, something that was an issue last year, by scoring 3 goals in each of their wins.

Now RSL faces a few new challenges as they look to finish out the month of June, first up is another US Open Cup match, again at home, as the Charleston Battery (who eliminated the San Jose Earthquakes) will come to town on June 12th for a 7:30pm showdown.  This is another match that on paper a MLS should win every time, but as we saw in the last round, none of these matches are easy and you must fight for every result.  RSL head coach Jason Kreis says that his team is focused on the US Open Cup more this year than ever before and it is something the players want to win as well.  If the team needed any extra motivation, a win on Wednesday will set them up for another home match (June 26th) a match that would feature the winner of Chivas USA vs. Carolina RailHawks vs. the winner of the RSL/Battery match.

Should RSL win it would set up a really busy week to end the month of June, on the 22nd the Seattle Sounders will come to Rio Tinto Stadium for the second time this season, and both teams are in top form right now, with 6-2-2 records in their last 10 matches.  For the Sounders an unusual early round departure from the US Open Cup and not being in the Champions League this fall, has left them to focus on league matches and they are doing just that.

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Real Salt Lake vs LA Galaxy – The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly 2 – Match Preview

It was just over a month ago that RSL hosted the LA Galaxy and while the roster for LA featured some names you wouldn’t have expected, the most surprising fact of the night was that LA was able to get two goals in the first 15 minutes and then hold on to keep the 2-0 win.  It wasn’t surprising that LA would get a win in Salt Lake, they have done so before, including last years 3-2 come from behind win, it was however that RSL gave up early goals.  So far this season RSL has allowed 15 goals, just 5 in the first half of matches and only one other team has scored in the first 30 minutes against RSL.  I count that match fluke, if you look at the numbers it is late goals for and against is what you should expect from these two sides, RSL has scored 11 of their 21 goals in the final 30 minutes of matches, LA has 10 of their 21 in the same time frame.  It is also when both sides have shown some weakness on defense, RSL has allowed 5 of their 15 goal allowed in the final 15 minutes of matches, but LA has allowed 9 of their 15 allowed in the final 15 minutes.  Yes, both sides have scored 21 and allowed 15 goals so far this season.

If it is consistency that RSL has found of late, 4-1-1 in their last 6 matches with multiple goals scored in 5 of them, then LA’s recent performances have to be described as erratic, 2-4-0 in their last 6 with some of the most puzzling scorelines of the season.  After a 3-1 loss at Vancouver, they rebound with a 4-1 win at Philly, then after thumping Seattle 4-0 at Home they get beat last weekend 5-0 by the New England Revolution.  Historically there are few head to head matchups that are a close as RSL vs LA, each side has 9 wins against the other with 5 draws and RSL holds a slight 38 to 35 edge in goals scored. In Utah RSL has a 4-3-4 record against LA with just a 19 to 17 goals scored advantage.

The Good:

Robbie Findley – It has been interesting listening to some RSL fans moan and complain about Robbie, not unexpected, but interesting as few of them knew the behind the scenes injury issues he has been dealing with.  Of course most of those folks have been quiet the last couple of matches with two goals and one assist in RSL’s last 3 matches.  As RSL head coach Jason Kreis said last week, it looks like Robbie is finally healthy and finding his form, and if that is the case and he can stay in form and healthy it is a very good thing for RSL. His ability to partner with Sabo, Plata or whoever else RSL puts up top with him is outstanding as Robbie now is a player who understands how to create chances for himself as well as his teammates.  I really believe the best is yet to come from Robbie Findley.

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LA Galaxy: Why the Hate?

One thing is clear to me as a fan of Real Salt Lake, as much as RSL fans hate the Colorado Rapids I think more hat the LA Galaxy.  It also seems that it isn’t just RSL fans that hate the Galaxy, it seems almost like a universal hatred of LA.

The haters will always hate, there is no question of that but one sometimes has to ask the question, do the haters have it right.  When it comes to the LA Galaxy the question most often revolves around how tightly do they have Major League Soccer wrapped around their little finger?  Or the perception that they have MLS wrapped around their little finger.

We can go back to the salary cap exemption for Landon Donovan and Carlos Ruiz, but that wouldn’t be fair as they weren’t the only team to benefit from such exceptions the Kansas City Wizards got the same type of exemption for Eddie Johnson.

A lot of people will point to the signing of David Beckham and the creation of the DP rule as something MLS did to show favor to the LA Galaxy, but again that isn’t exactly the case.  More than a year before Beckham was signed by LA, MLS was focused on a different player Ronaldo (the one from Brazil, not Portugal – it was 2005/06 after all) and different team, the move was to be part of the rebranding of the New York Red Bulls.  While that deal never finalized, one of the main points of discussion was that MLS should stop granting one off exceptions and create a rule for players outside of the normal salary restriction; it would become the DP rule.

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Real Salt Lake’s best half of the season in 3-0 win over San Jose

For the first time at home this season, RSL scored 3 goals in a match, heck what makes it even more impressive is they did it all in the first half and against San Jose.  Perhaps a bit of revenge for the sweep we suffered last year, or maybe it is all just starting to come together, much like RSL GM Garth Lagerwey has been saying all year?  One this is for sure, as a fan it sure was a lot of fun to watch.  As it seemed like Javier Morales, Joao Plata, Ned Grabavoy and Robbie Findley were sharing one mind, each played a role in at least one if not all of the RSL goals, including the Goal of the Week nominee by Robbie Findley.  How bad was it, well Frank Yallop made two tactical subs in the first half bringing in Rafael Baca for Sam Cronin and Steven Lenhart for Adam Jahn.

With those changes San Jose seemingly woke up and started to play better, where the highlight of half may have been seeing a bleeding Steven Lenhart, after a collision with Kwame Watson-Siribore on a corner kick mixer in the area, I do hope he isn’t hurt badly.  There were also some save of the week caliber saves by Nick Rimando, who picked up his 107th MLS clean sheet. RSL kept pushing for more goals but Jon Busch was able to prevent any more goals from being scored on a night when RSL clearly new the recipe for his beans (that one came from the stands and was too good not to include).

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Real Salt Lake vs. San Jose Earthquakes – The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly – Match Preview

Well the RSL season started out at San Jose and in that match “The Goonies” were silenced as RSL picked up the 2-0 win, and after a 2012 season that saw the Quakes lose just 6 matches all season while scoring 72 goals (2.12 per match) on their way to winning the Supporter’s Shield, 2013 hasn’t been so kind.  San Jose has lost 5 of their first 14 (the same number as RSL), they have won just 3 matches and are 0-4-2 on the road, but perhaps more alarming is that they have scored just 13 goals (0.93 per match).

Now they still have that never say die mentality and have been able to score 7 of their 13 goals in the final 15 minutes of matches, and that has given them a 2-5-4 record when allowing the first goal (RSL is 1-4-1), but the lack of goals is clear in the fact that they have only scored the first goal in a match 3 times (RSL has 8 times) for a 1-0-2 record (RSL is 5-1-2).  Last year a lot of San Jose’s success came from Alan Gordon (13 goals and 7 assists) and Steven Lenhart (10 goals and 2 assists), but neither of them have scored a goal yet this year. Instead it is rookie Adam Jahn (4 goals) who has been the support for the main Quakes threat, which remains Chris Wondolowski (5 goals and 3 assists).  San Jose will come to Rio Tinto missing a few players for various reasons; Nana Attakora and Ty Harden will be out with injuries, Marvin Chavez and Victor Bernardez who are gone for international duty.  They are also coming off a US Open Cup loss on Tuesday, they lost to the Charleston Battery, and the Quakes have just a single win in their last 10 MLS matches.

Real Salt Lake has one thing in common with San Jose, the ability to score late goals, RSL has 8 of their 18 in the final 15 minutes, and 11 of their 18 have come in the final 30 minutes of matches.  Another thing is that both sides have given up goals late in matches, both sides have given up 6 goals in the final 30 minutes of matches, for RSL 5 of those have come in the final 15 minutes.  We say late goals rob RSL of points a couple weeks ago in Montreal, and even last weekend RSL had to settle for a 1-1 draw with the Chicago Fire.  For RSL the international call ups will hit after this weekend, but injury issues will keep Alvaro Saborio out of action on Saturday, it was Sabo who scored both goals against San Jose on the opening weekend of the season.  Still RSL has plenty of weapons, 6 players have scored multiple goals so far this season (Saborio, Ned Grabavoy, Javier Morales, Olmes Garcia, Luis Gil, and Robbie Findley) and 3 more have scored one. San Jose has two players with multiple goals (Wondolowski and Jahn) and 3 others players have scored a single goal for the Quakes.

The Good:

Luis Gil – if you believe the projected lineup from the match guide, Luis will be getting the start at the top of the diamond after Javier Morales went a full 120 minutes on Tuesday in a very physical match in US Open Cup action.  I think this plays perfectly for Luis, at the point of the diamond he is able to dictate the match and gets a good number of touches, unlike when he is on the outside of the diamond where he sometimes gets lost in the match.  I liked what Luis did early in the season when Javi was out hurt, and expect that we might see him back to that much more active role on Saturday.  With the U20 World Cup coming up this summer, the more quality minutes we can get from Luis now will allow other midfielders a chance to rest a bit. In that 2-0 opening day win, Luis went all 90 minutes with 2 shots taken (1 on goal), it should be interesting to see how he matches up against the Quakes midfield.

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