Archive for US Open Cup

For RSL the US Open Cup match against Sacramento may be the most important one of the year

When you have 10 losses before the halfway point of the season things aren’t going right, so no matter what lineup you put out, whatever the mix of first team, second team or USL guys you play, a win in a must.

I am always appalled this time of year at how the US Open Cup gets treated, it should be one of the most popular soccer tournaments in the US, it should be on TV and heavily marketed for it’s unique nature and David vs Goliath appeal. With MLS not caring, they would rather revive Super Liga in an attempt to win over Liga MX fans, it is no surprise that most MLS teams stack their rosters with reserves.

Now fast forward to RSL’s season were after 16 matches RSL is 4-10-2 and are statistically the worst team in the league, most loses (10), highest goal differential (-20) and worst points per game (0.88).  A break of 10 days between an embarrassing 6-2 loss to FC Dallas and their US Open Cup match against Sacramento United FC on Wednesday should have provided plenty of time for self reflection, tactical adjustments, injury recovery for some, integration back of U20 players back into team.  We should see a team hungry to get some type of result against a side that should be easy pickings, a chance for our forwards who have struggled for goals to get some confidence. A chance for defenders to figure out what has gone wrong so often this year for them, but I expect that will be the last thing that we see.

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Real Salt Lake look to continue US Open Cup run vs Seattle

On Saturday night at Dallas many fans were shocked as the RSL lineup looked more like a Monarchs starting XI than RSL’s but with a busy schedule the changes provided some guys to rest, while younger players got a chance to make their case for more attention and minutes.   That busier schedule includes the US Open Cup match on Tuesday against the Seattle Sounders, the winner will need just 3 more wins to claim a trophy and CCL spot.

The Sounders are tied with the Chicago Fire as 4 time winners of the US Open Cup with wins in 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2014, and lost to SKC in the finals of the 2012 version.  So there is no doubt that Seattle takes this tournament seriously, they have struggled in their attempt to win other trophies, so this one holds a special place for them and their fans.

Real Salt Lake has made two serious runs at the US Open Cup, in 2013 they leveraged a favorable home schedule to make it to the finals before losing to DC United 1-0 in the final. Last year the team made it to the semifinals before losing to Sporting KC, who would eventually lift the trophy as tournament winners.

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Real Salt Lake, Disappoint, Thrill, and Excite in US Open Cup action

So in a match that on paper RSL should have had no struggles with they did as for the 3rd straight time hosting a lower division team in US Open Cup action, RSL gave up the first goal, and for the second time in those 3 matches they spotted their opponents a two goal lead.  I get that we often see RSL go with a mixed lineup of players, with some bench or reserve guys getting minutes and that can lead to a disruption of the normal chemistry, but there is still little excuse in giving up the first goal in matches like this.

RSL’s starting lineup was: Jeff Attinella, Boyd Okwuonu, Jamison Olave, Aaron Maund, Chris Wingert, Luke Mulholland, John Stertzer, Burrito, Javier Morales, Jordan Allen and Devon Sandoval

There simply is no reason why this group was unable to be successful against a decent Wilmington side, but the failure to use our width and little success getting the ball into dangerous places simply was disappointing.  Clearly the Hammerheads had studied up on RSL and they knew how to disrupt our passing lanes and were good at knowing when to apply pressure and where. Too often Burrito was forced back into the midfield to help out, Jordan Allen saw the ball too infrequently and when Devon would hold the ball up, few others got into positions to support the attack.  All of this left RSL with limited chances in the first half, mainly set piece efforts and shots from distance.

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Real Salt Lake ready for US Open Cup action vs Wilmington

It is often repeated but nothing can be more straight forward for RSL, the easiest and most direct path to CONCACAF is to win the US Open Cup.  RSL will again start a bid to win the USOC on Tuesday night as they host the USL side Wilmington Hammerheads.

No matter what lineup RSL puts out for the match people will ask questions, should we rest starters with a big match with Portland on Saturday, or with 12 days off should all players be ready to go?  I would like to see RSL go with as many starters as possible, with almost two weeks off making sure players are sharp and ready for a very busy couple months with 11 matches before the end of July.  That busy schedule could be why Jeff Cassar goes with a mixed lineup to get some of the bench guys minutes as it is likely they will be needed to fill in during the busy schedule.

Wilmington brings in a team that has struggled in USL action with just 16 points in 12 matches, their top scorer is Bruno Peone, which is a bit odd given he is listed as a defender.  They are a balanced team with 15 goals scored and 13 goals allowed for a plus 2 goal differential.  RSL is sitting with a similar +2 goal differential with 23 goals scored and 21 allowed in their 13 MLS matches.

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What does 2015 hold for Real Salt Lake?

It came down to the wire, but a new CBA has been agreed to, so the MLS season can get under way.  What exactly does that mean for RSL heading into the 2015 season?

With some big off-season changes both in the front office as well as on the pitch, this clearly is now Dell Loy’s team with his choice for coach Jeff Cassar entering his second season and Craig Waibel as the Technical Director in place. So what are your expectations for RSL heading into the 2015 season? Remember this year we will see MLS action, CCL action, USOC action, as well as the addition of USL Pro side Real Monarchs, construction of a new stadium for them, the possible addition of a NWSL team, that is a whole lot of soccer (and yes we love it).

So let’s start with the bread and butter of RSL, the regular season, over the last 5 years 3 clubs in MLS have been the definition of regular season success, the LA Galaxy, the Seattle Sounders and Real Salt Lake. For the last 5 years both LA and RSL have won at least 15 matches and ended with at least 50 points, Seattle has done it the last 4 seasons.  RSL has made the playoffs every season since 2008, the longest active streak in MLS.

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The top Real Salt Lake moments of 2013, the year of “almost”

So it is the time of year when most blogger/pundits/reporters put together their light of the highlights and lowlights of the past year, so it seemed only fitting that I take a look back at what was a very interesting year for Real Salt Lake.  I started out wanting to look at the 5 best things and the 5 worse things of the year and found that the two lists were very similar and often the events were very intertwined with each other.  For how long the MLS season is, just under 11 months, it was couple weeks that provided a lot of the material for my lists.  Anyhow, here we go:

The Top 5 highlights of the 2013 RSL season

5. US Open Cup run – it seemed as if RSL had destiny on their side as each and every coin flip by US Soccer gave home field advantage to RSL and despite questionable starts in several of the matches RSL was able to advance to the Open Cup final, a level they had never reached before in the tournament. It was in the Open Cup run that we got to see Devon Sandoval really step out of the shadows of being a rookie and show his potential, something that would benefit RSL for the rest of the season.   It was also great to see RSL pull in over 10,000 fans to each of their US Open Cup matches, in fact over the 5 matches RSL averaged over 14,000 fans, showing that a serious run at the USOC actually was important to both the club and the fans.  In almost every match played RSL put out a lineup that featured most of their top players another indication of how the club viewed the importance of the tournament, I hope that we see this same level of commitment in years to come.

4. Extra time win over the LA Galaxy in playoffs – Over the years I think this has become one of the best “non-rivalries” in MLS, from the style of play on the pitch to the way the clubs are run there really aren’t two clubs as polar opposites in the league.  So a highlight of the year has to be eliminating the Galaxy from the playoffs, and to do so in a match where some questionable calls again seemed to be strongly against RSL (hint this match should have ended in regulation time) just put a smile on the faces of all the RSL fans in the stands for that match.  I thought it was interesting how much attention had been given to the combo of Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane leading up to the series and how after it the talk was all about the duo of RSL centerbacks Nat Borchers and Chris Schuler.

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Losing Sucks, but it isn’t the end of the world

Before you read any further, understand that I started writing a blog in 2007 after reading another blogger comparing Jason Kreis and his management style to Robert Murrary’s days after there was a collapse in the Crandall mine owned by Murray killed several miners.  It was a time when RSL struggled a lot on the pitch, but was in the midst of trying to rebuild yet so many people online were simply so negative about everything that it was frustrating as a fan to see. If you have read any version of my blog you will know that I am a RSL fan, pure and simple, I look at the team from two perspectives (a fan and as a business).  The 1-0 loss last night sucked, and every person who bought a ticket has a right to be mad that we lost.  You have a right to vent however you want, I have a right to look at things another way, we are likely not going to see eye to eye on things.  Others will look at how the match was played, I thought I would look at something else. That being said:

Well 64 teams entered the US Open Cup, two were fortunate enough to make it to the final, but only one was going to win it, so is it better to have been one of the final two teams and to have lost or to have been a team knocked out by a lower division team like last year’s RSL squad?  Don’t get me wrong I hate losing, it makes me mad for days, but I don’t let it cause me to threaten to cancel my season tickets, it doesn’t cause me to question the loyalty of the team or staff, it doesn’t cause me to throw a temper tantrum online.

Yes you have a right to be mad, you have a right to do whatever want, but for me as a soccer fan (long before there was a RSL) I learned a valuable lesson, soccer is never about one match, it is never about one season, it is about the adventure of a lifetime of backing a team that you believe in.  It means you take your lumps along with enjoying glory, for the vast majority of teams in all sports there are a lot more lumps than there is glory.

So in the aftermath of the 1-0 loss to DC United last night, I wasn’t surprised at some of the venting online, but I tried to look at the positives.  The reactions I got were interesting and in some cases a bit troubling, see RSL is a young team by soccer standards, not even to our 10th season yet and we have become one of the most consistent teams in MLS history.  Actually we are the first team to have 4 straight seasons with 15 wins and 50 points, we may be joined by the LA Galaxy who can achieve that this season as well.  We have the longest playoff streak in MLS with this being our 6th straight season of making the playoffs.  We are spoiled, spoiled by the success of the team, and that has shown clearly in the hours after the loss.

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Why the US Open Cup matters, and matters so much to Real Salt Lake

Tuesday night Real Salt Lake will play the second most important match they have ever played at Rio Tinto Stadium, the 2011 CCL final was the most important.  This will be the third time RSL will be able to lift a trophy at home, they failed in their two previous attempts (2008 Western Conference Final & 2011 Champions League Final).  Of course it is funny how some people don’t put much weight behind the US Open Cup, saying that MLS teams rarely take it seriously, that US Soccer doesn’t really care about the tournament, but it is kinda strange when you compare the realities to those statements.

5 years ago I would have agreed that most MLS teams dialed it in when it came to the US Open Cup, the format changed often and it was hard to get fans interested in it.  Then came back to back to back titles by the Seattle Sounders, who showed that it was the easiest path to Champions League.  Last year more teams put out top lineups and the final between Sporting KC and Seattle was played before 18,000 plus fans and saw SKC win in a PK shootout.  This year we saw more teams (not all) put serious effort into US Open Cup, it sure was the case for RSL.

In the first Open Cup match for RSL, they put out a mixed lineup (Saunders, Palmer, Watson-Siriboe, Salcedo, Wingert, Morales, Alvarez, Velasquez, Beckerman, Sandoval, and Findley) and used all 3 subs (Plata, Grabavoy, Stephenson).  It took RSL extra time to get their 3-2 win over Atlanta, but clearly showed that the team was going to take the tournament seriously.  The second match for RSL was against Charleston again saw a very experienced lineup used (Saunders, Wingert, Maund, Borchers, Beltran, Velasquez, Beckerman, Morales, Grabavoy, Garcia, Sandoval – subs Stephenson, Plata, and Findley) and again it took 120 minutes for RSL to secure their 5-2 win.

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US Open Cup final tickets go on sale Tomorrow (8-15-13)

This one doesn’t need much more than me just posting the press release, you know how big the US Open Cup is, you know that you want to be there to be able to see our team play on our pitch for a trophy, this has only happened once before when we played for the CONCACAF Champions League trophy.  Winning this match will mean a trophy and a chance to once again to compete for that CCL trophy as well.

TICKETS ON SALE THURSDAY FOR
OCT. 1 REAL SALT LAKE–DC UNITED LAMAR HUNT US OPEN CUP FINAL
AT RIO TINTO STADIUM

RSL Season Ticket Holders Have Exclusive Window to Purchase Seats & Unlimited Extras until August 31; General Public On-Sale Tuesday, Sept. 3 at 10 a.m. MT

SANDY, Utah (Wednesday, August 14, 2013) – EXCLUSIVELY for Real Salt Lake season ticket holders, tickets for the Tuesday, October 1 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Final Match against D.C. United go on sale at 10:00 a.m. MT TOMORROWThursday, August 15 at the Rio Tinto Stadium box offices (open 10 a.m.-6 p.m.Mon-Fri), at www.RealSaltLake.com or over the phone at 801-727-2700.

While the D.C. United #USOC100 match is NOT included in the Real Salt Lake 2013 season ticket package, RSL “PRIDE” Season Ticket Holders will have an exclusive 2-week window to secure their seat location, and can also purchase unlimited additional seats to the match at preferred pricing.  Visit www.RealSaltLake.com/Tickets for more details regarding the pricing for tickets to the match, which range from $17-$80 each, depending on location. Any remaining seats following the exclusive window for RSL STH will be released to the general public on Tuesday, Sept. 3.

By virtue of last weeks 2-1 victory over the MLS Portland Timbers – before a semifinal stage record crowd of 14,742 – Real Salt Lake will now host the 100th Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Final at Rio Tinto Stadium at 7:30 p.m. MT on Tuesday, Oct. 1 against D.C. United.  One win away from a return to CONCACAF Champions League via the Open Cup, Jason Kreis‘ team is the first Utah side to advance to the tourney’s Final in USOC history. Prior to its current four-game Open Cup run, Real Salt Lake had never previously won more than one game in any single #USOC100 tourney, and had won just two games all-time in the tournament proper (excluding MLS play-in games).

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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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