Archive for July 2013

What people aren’t talking about from the RSL vs NYRB match

So we all can question the officials once again, should Yordany been sent off for his studs up tackle on Cahill?  Were any of the three PK’s called actually a real PK?  How in the world did the official call 46 combined fouls and yet have no control over the match.  Each of those are valid points of discussion,  but for me the impact of the ref is as much if not more than any of those, responsible for the subs that Jason Kreis made, which impacted the match both in positive and negative ways.

RSL may have been lucky that Yordany Alvarez was still on the pitch in the 61st minute of play, given the hard tackle that earned him an early yellow card (and some think was deserving of more).  He had been playing well since that early yellow, but given the nature of the match and the official, bringing in Khari Stephenson for Yordany instead of for Ned Grabavoy, who didn’t have his finest match, or Sebastian Velasquez both of whom play a position more normal for Khari seems to be at least if not completely motivated by how the match was being called.   It may have been wise as 3 more yellow cards where given out in the 15 minutes after the sub was made.

The second sub of the night was a straight swap of Luis Gil coming in for Sebastian Velasquez, this one I doubt had anything to do with the officiating but was more about fresh legs in what was a 2-1 match.  Still I wonder if again given the rough match that Ned Grabavoy was having, that if we hadn’t had to pull Yordany if perhaps Ned would have been the choice to take out here, but with Ned’s defensive abilities I can understand this move more than any other.

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Real Salt Lake at New York Red Bulls – The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly – Match Preview

Well I still haven’t re-watched the complete match from last weekend, because it will only upset me and make me mad at MLS and PRO, so like the players I have moved on to this next match, and again another huge match against a top Eastern Conference opponent and again thanks to this unbalanced schedule crap a team we only get to see live every two seasons. The Red Bulls are currently tied for second in the East, with 32 points from 21 matches, from a 9-7-5 record with 29 goals scored and 24 goals allowed, at home they are a more impressive side with a 6-2-2 record with 18 goals scored and just 8 allowed.  For RSL the home loss last weekend has to sting a bit, but RSL are a very good road team this season with a 5-4-1 record with 15 goals scored and just 10 goals allowed away from Rio Tinto Stadium.

These teams have faced off 15 times in MLS regular season action where RSL holds a 5-3-7 advantage with 21 goals scored and 20 goals allowed.  While most folks don’t see this as a rivalry match, think about a couple facts; the first match RSL ever played was a 0-0 draw at the then New York Metrostars (a match played in tropical storm conditions), the first ever MLS match at Rio Tinto Stadium was the 10-9-08 match against the Red Bulls (a 1-1 draw), and RSL’s first ever conference final match was against the Red Bulls back in 2008 (a 1-0 heartbreaking loss for RSL).  In more recent history RSL haven’t lost to the Red Bulls since April of 2009, and hold a 5-0-1 record against them since that loss, including a win and draw in our only two matches at Red Bull Arena.

The challenge for RSL will be huge this weekend, as we are still missing a huge number of players (3 – Beckerman, Rimando, and Beltran on National team duty, 1- Chris Wingert is suspended, 6 – Balchan, Salcedo, Saunders, Schuler, Stertzer, and Watson-Siriboe are out or questionable with injuries).  New York are missing Connor Lade and Heath Pearce with injuries but beyond that may be one of the most available rosters in MLS right now.  Should be interesting to see what lineups both sides put out for this one.

The Good:

Robbie Findley – After a good match against Sporting KC last weekend, and looking like one of the sharpest players on the practice pitch (from my observations on Wednesday), I think this is the type of match that could see Robbie get some quality chances to use his speed and recent form to punish a backline that despite the presence of Jamison Olave has a lot of question this season.  Robbie has never scored against the Red Bulls, but in his previous 7 matches against them he does have 3 assists, the most among RSL players who will be in action today.

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Real Salt Lake vs. Sporting KC – The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly Match preview

Just past the midway point of the MLS season, Real Salt Lake and Sporting KC find themselves facing off on Saturday, each represents the top team in their conference and probably the two best teams in the league right now.  There are some similarities between the two sides they both have a lot of talented players, both play an aggressive style of soccer, both look to force their opponents to play their style.  Of course there are some huge differences as well, RSL plays a passing game that controls long stretches of the match, SKC is a bit more frantic on the pitch with high pressure on the ball, RSL will defend with every player on the pitch, while SKC rely a lot more on their defenders and that high pressure. The one clear thing is, that both sides are very good at what they do.

Sporting KC is one of the reasons why I hate the unbalanced schedule, there are some players on their team that I love to watch play the game, Graham Zusi has quickly become one of the most exciting players in MLS. Kei Kamara is just fun to watch, and has a sparkling personality on and off the pitch, while he may have heart shaped hands it is clear that he has a huge heart to match them.  Teal Bunbury and CJ Sapong both can provide exiting moments at any time during a match.  Aurelien Collin is one of the most fierce defenders in MLS, and while I may not always be a fan of the physical way he plays, you can’t deny the results.  Only getting to see these guys and the rest of SKC only once every two years seems like a real disservice to MLS fans in the Western Conference.

For Real Salt Lake this match may be one of the toughest tests of the year, a top opponent in good form (SKC is 3-0-1 in their last 4 matches), a roster that is stretched thin by call ups and injuries.  With a overall 11 match unbeaten streak on the line RSL is going to have to rely on names like Aaron Maund, Jeff Attinella, and Yordany Alvarez, the upside is that all season long the unfamiliar names have stepped up and not only delivered but most often over delivered. For RSL to keep their streak alive that will have to happen again on Saturday.

The Good:

Javier Morales – Hot off his Goal of the Week goal (which really shouldn’t have won) will come a very tough test for Javi, where his skills on both sides of the ball will be tested by a strong and physical team(RSL has committed 235 fouls this season, SKC has 293).  We all know how good Javi can be on the offensive side of the ball his 5 goals and 8 assists have been a real difference maker for RSL, 3 of those goals have been game winners for RSL.  Javi has never had a lot of success against Sporting KC, just a single assist in his 6 matches against them, but I think the biggest thing on Saturday will be how he responds to the pressure of SKC, and if he can quickly move the ball into dangerous positions.

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Real Salt Lake must beware of the hype of July

Real Salt Lake has always enjoyed the role of the underdog, the little guy, but after 11 matches without a loss and 9 MLS matches without a loss, and a lot of people jumping on the RSL bandwagon, the success could be a double edged sword.

Now that doesn’t mean the team shouldn’t be proud of what they have accomplished, I mean it is fairly impressive when you consider the offseason changes, the injuries, national team call ups and such.  After 20 matches RSL is/has:

  • Top Overall Team in MLS with 37 points
  • Top Team in points per match with 1.85
  • Tied for most goals scored with 32 (Philadelphia & Vancouver)
  • Tied for fewest goals allowed with 18 (Portland & New England)
  • Most wins in MLS with 11
  • Most road wins in MLS with 5
  • Best overall goal differential with a +14
  • Top team in the Sagarin ratings in USA Today
  • Top team in the Sportsclubstats.com ratings – a 98.6% chance of making playoffs

Not bad for a team that lost Will Johnson, Jamison Olave, Fabian Espindola, and a number of other players via trade or release.  The mix of replacement players has been diverse, MLS draft picks, trades, Homegrown players, and other acquisitions as RSL got younger, faster, and cheaper.  It was the first time that I remember that the team actually filled all 30 roster spots, and that depth has been tested time and time again already this year, with 18 players having played at least 500 minutes in MLS action, and another 6 having played at least some time in MLS matches.  Those both are more than all of the 2012 season for RSL, that is a lot of reason to be excited about what has happened so far and what the rest of the season might hold.

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A cause worth mentioning as Bumpy Pitch and Robbie Rogers collaborate

Over my years as a blogger there have been very few posts that I have made about causes, but this is one that I feel needs to be made.  I have known Brian Dunseth for several years and he is one of the nicest guys I know, always smiling, always willing to talk with everyone and anyone.  I consider him one of the cornerstones of what has become the RSL Family, for his actions on and off the pitch, and I don’t believe the club would be where it is today without him.  I can’t claim that I know Robbie Rogers, but I do believe he is a quality player and from everything I have seen him say and do since he first entered MLS he seems like a quality guy.

So how can I not help promote the latest collaboration between the two:

Bumpy Pitch x Robbie Rogers – BEYOND “it”

Beyond It 1

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Real Salt Lake bolsters their defense adding Brandon McDonald

With long term injuries to Rich Balchan, Kwame Watson-Siriboe, and still waiting for the return of Chris Schuler, RSL needed to add some depth at centerback as we enter the dog days of summer and very important stretch of the season.  While it may seem a bit strange that RSL would go to the team at the very bottom of the MLS table, it would be hard to lay any of the blame for DC United’s struggles on Brandon McDonald.

Brandon is a 27 year old 6’1″ center back for whom RSL will be his 4th MLS club in 6 seasons, he started with the LA Galaxy, then spend 2 and a half seasons with San Jose before joining DC United.  Last year with all the success that DC had, it is important to note that McDonald played in 33 of 34 regular season matches and had almost 4,000 minutes over the course of the season.  He has seen limited action this year, due to injuries and to be honest the continuing struggles this year of DC.  A couple of bad matches for a player on a bad team and your confidence can be shot (we have seen this before) but perhaps a new start is just what the doctor would have ordered in this case.

He did go the full 90 minutes against RSL in week 2 of the season, that match was one of two wins so far this season for DC United.  RSL knows him well as he has 6 starts and played in 8 matches against RSL since joining MLS. He is big, physical and not afraid of contact, I think in combination with our current guys he could be a great fit and should also provide RSL with another target player on set pieces.   It will be exciting to see how he approaches this phase of his career,  one downside is that McDonald is cup tied to DC United, so he won’t be able to play for RSL in the US Open Cup.

That’s How I See It.

 

Real Salt Lake continues their hot streak

When RSL was 2 matches into the MLS season, I doubt most people thought that when the team had 20 matches under their belt that they would be at the top of MLS.  If you look at the stats, RSL has the most points 37 in MLS, their 1.85 points per match average is also tops in MLS, as is the +14 goal differential, their 11 wins, their 5 road wins.  With 32 goals scored they are tied for the top total in MLS with the Philadelphia Union, RSL’s 18 goals allowed is tied for second fewest in MLS with Portland, while New England have given up just 16 goals so far this season.

All of this came to a bit of a head on Saturday as RSL headed into Texas, missing 4 normal starters on national team duty, missing a couple other players with injuries or suspension, so was it a bit surprising when the team picked up their first every win in Texas with their 3-0 defeat of FC Dallas?  Not really, RSL has had to play with their lineup and even their formation often since the start of the season for various reasons, it is why 20 players have over 500 minutes of MLS action already this year, and 6 others have also gotten time in MLS matches. Both of those are more than the entire season for RSL last year, a rather amazing stat if you ask me.

On Saturday it was the same thing as we again saw different players step up, as Abdoulie Mansally stepped into the starting lineup, another match with Nat Borchers and Carlos Salcedo as our centerbacks, alongside Chris Wingert.  In goal we saw Josh Saunders get the start and play really well, only to pick up an injury late in the first half that eventually would take him out of the match early in the second half, we should know more early this week about the extent of his injury, but I sure hope it isn’t a serious one that will keep him out of action long.  That allowed for Jeff Attinella to get his first MLS minutes, and he looked like it was just another day, making some great saves and helping RSL keep the clean sheet.

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Welcome back, a bit of catch up and house cleaning

So I owe all of you a bit on an apology, the last month has been a very long one for me.  I was excited to be able to really enjoy being a fan for the World Cup Qualifier, that was followed by a rough fight with a nasty round of being sick, and then a huge week at work with several projects coming due at once.  So I am sorry for the lack of posts over the last month, but now I am back and have a whole lot to say over the next few days and weeks.

However I must first put in this plug for Saturday, we beyond lucky that we got both a World Cup Qualifier and the Gold Cup (with the USMNT).  It wasn’t Seattle, New York, LA, Dallas, or any other market that was selected for both, it was Salt Lake City, and I get there was some friction between some of our local supporter groups and the American Outlaws last time around, but I really hope that everyone comes out in great numbers and great voice on Saturday.  Our boys deserve the level of support that we are known for in MLS, and as you watch this video clip you can understand how important this match is to our players (Kyle, Nick, and Tony) and how proud they are to be able to play at their home stadium:

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Way too much thought about YSA

Honesty and transparency would really help Major League Soccer out when they are trying to modify the behavior of their fans.  For me it is sometimes hard to take things like supporters week seriously given some of the past behavior of MLS. Between the use of images of supporters using flares to promote playoff matches, knowing that the fans pictured were arrested for that behavior, and the ongoing debacle of MLS trying to trademark rivalry names created by fans I often really wonder what goes on in the collective mind of MLS HQ.

The latest incident that could really use some honesty and transparency is YSA, I don’t think there is anyone out there who thinks this is the best chant in the world, that it is creative, or anything more than a rather childish chant.  However it is perhaps the closest thing that exists to a league wide tradition, I have heard it at every stadium I have been to, in some shape or form, I hear it on almost every TV or MLS Live broadcast.  Yet, it once again has taken the front stage on of all weeks the week MLS claims as Supporters week, of course they also consider this week to be Patriotic Week.   I don’t mind MLS trying to rid the stadiums of YSA, heck I can actually support such an idea, but how they have chosen to go about it is ruffling some feathers.

Threats and blanket indictment of supporter groups if they somehow can’t rid a stadium of the chant, seem a rather odd way to solve the problem to me.  For me the fastest way to solve a problem is to explain why it is a problem, and then to work together to come up with a solution that works for all parties involved, that however hasn’t been the approach taken by MLS or many clubs over the past several years of the campaign against YSA, which might be part of the reason why none of the efforts to date have really worked.  Last year we saw New England kicking their fans out for saying it, but one has to wonder if a club with so many issues getting fans to show up is really a smart approach?

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