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:
I am going to start with the run RSL put together in June, I knew it was going to be a huge month, both in MLS and US Open Cup action and no team in the US has been better than RSL. In US Open Cup action, RSL advanced to the quarterfinals which they will host in early August against the Portland Timbers. It took RSL the extra 30 minutes of action to beat the Charleston Battery but in the end it was a 5-2 victory with a pair of goals from Devon Sandoval, and goals from Javier Morales, Joao Plata, and Khari Stephenson. That brought the Carolina Railhawks to town and RSL was able to handle their business in regulation time with a 3-0 win, that featured a couple goals by some unlikely sources as both Chris Wingert and Tony Beltran scored, and the third goal was from Alvaro Saborio. It is clear by the lineups that RSL has put out that the US Open Cup is a real priority for the team this year, two more wins and RSL will lift a trophy and secure a spot in next years Champions League tournament.
In MLS action it was simply a perfect month for RSL, 4-0-0 with 9 goals scored and just 1 goal allowed. The three home wins were all huge matches against Western Conference opponents, 3-0 over San Jose, 3-1 over the Galaxy, and 2-0 over Seattle, oh how that helped RSL to the top of the table both in the Western Conference but also the top overall spot in MLS. To end the month RSL went back out on the road and picked up their first ever win in Canada with a 1-0 win over Toronto FC. Of course July started out interesting for RSL, a 2-2 draw with the Philadelphia Union felt like a win, after some strange calls and overall a horrible job done by the officiating crew. Still it extended RSL’s unbeaten streak in MLS action to 7 matches, and just one loss in our last 10 league matches.
There of course was also the USMNT visit where they beat Honduras 1-0 in a World Cup Qualifying match to take the lead in the Hex and all but ensure themselves of a spot in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. The match was rather low key as Honduras played very defensively minded, the lack of action and some infighting between various factions of supporters (local and national) caused the atmosphere to be a lot mellower than most expected and was a bit disappoint to me and some others. There was one thing that seemed to have caught a lot of attention, yes the other big story of the last month “YSA”. With the fans in the south end of the stadium, YSA reared up and was very noticeable on several occasions which apparently caught the attention of some international broadcasters and lead to some online ridicule of the fans in Salt Lake, of course they forget to tell you that about 1/4 of the crowd was from out of state but hey why let things like facts get in the way.
The YSA thing blew up locally, and a bit nationally as the league made some threats to the teams to “clean it up” which lead to a letter the league provided to some teams threatening sanctions and punishments against various supporter groups, did little to make the issue easy to deal with, and here in Salt Lake the media grabbed the story and provided RSL with a lot of attention that probably didn’t benefit anyone. I did a post on why I think the efforts to stomp out YSA in such a fashion probably was the wrong way to deal with it, and over the last couple weeks the only real thought that sticks in my mind about it, is the sad fact that after 18 years in existence the only thing that is close to a league wide tradition in MLS is YSA.
That all brings us to tomorrow, the USMNT (with 3 RSL players, Kyle Beckerman, Nick Rimando, and Tony Beltran in tow) will be back at Rio Tinto Stadium in Gold Cup action against Cuba, let us hope that the only thing controversial from that match will be a couple of Cuban players deciding if Salt Lake City is good enough for Yordany Alvarez, maybe they should stick around. Don’t forget that there is also a second match (included with your ticket purchase) which will feature Costa Rica (with RSL’s Alvaro Saborio) against Belize. I said it earlier but I consider the fact that we get two chances to see the USMNT play in meaningful matches this year at Rio Tinto a huge honor, hopefully the crowd will live up to our reputation. If you need some extra motivation, the match is being broadcast nationally, not on FSC, or NBC Sports, hell not even on ESPN, but on the national FOX broadcast. That means the match will likely have millions of people watching it, a chance for us to show the world that we get soccer, that we love our national team, and that every network should want to come here to broadcast matches. So I hope that I see you at the match on Saturday.
That’s How I See It