It is kinda fitting that the last match of the regular season will be against the same team that the preseason began against back on February 10th, now just days away from November RSL will wrap up their regular season by once again taking on the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday night.
Both sides would like to have some positives from the match heading into the MLS playoffs that start next week, for RSL it is about trying to get some folks healthy as 4 defenders are listed on the injury report (Chris Schuler, Kwame Watson-Siriboe, Jamison Olave and Tony Beltran), for the Whitecaps it is about getting a positive result, they have struggled the last couple months and with their “wildcard” match against the Galaxy next week they need to get things going in a positive direction.
The Whitecaps have struggled on the road with a 3-10-3 record and just 10 goals scored and 24 allowed, while RSL has been solid at home with an 11-4-1 record and 27 goals scored and 15 allowed. Neither side has come back from behind to get a win if they are trailing at halftime, RSL has come back after giving up the first goal to get 3 wins and a draw, while the Whitecaps have just a single victory and two draws after giving up the first goal.
Tuesday night in Salt Lake City is forecast to be cold, wet, and nasty. That is only appropriate given that the play on a bit nasty as both sides will be looking to be the team that will advance from group 2 to the knockout rounds of the Champions League. CS Herediano holds the upper hand as they currently have 9 points to RSL’s 6, for RSL the reality is simple: Win. OK not that simple, RSL must either win 1-0, or they must win by 2 goals in order to advance. A 1-0 win would see the two sides go to the tiebreakers, and it would be the 6th tiebreaker (GD in all group stage matches) that would give RSL the win with the 1-0 result (it would boost RSL’s overall GD to a +3, and drop Herediano to a +2). A two goal win by RSL would give us the second tiebreaker (head to head GD) as RSL lost the first leg 1-0, so a 2 goal win would advance RSL via a different tiebreaker.
RSL faces a huge question on Tuesday, who will fill in for Alvaro Saborio? Where will the goals come from? RSL has scored just 3 goals in their 3 CCL matches so far this year, Saborio has two of them and Kyle Beckerman the other. All of RSL’s goals in Champions League action have come in the second half of matches. Real Salt Lake are 3-1-1 in their last 5 league matches and currently 5th in MLS with a 17-11-5 record.
CS Herediano on the other hand have scored 3 of their 4 goals in the first half of their matches, each of their goals has been scored by a different player: Elías Aguilar, Pablo Salazar, Waylon Francis, and Enoc Pérez. It was Aguilar who scored against RSL when the teams faced off in Costa Rica. Herediano are 2-1-2 in their last 5 league matches and currently sit in 3rd place in league play with a overall 7-3-6 record.
So a couple of weeks ago when I was at RSL practice, I noticed something very distinctive about how the players were split into groups. The more experienced/veteran players were in one group and the other was made up of most of your newer/younger players. Then on Wednesday at the Reserve match I got to see a lineup for RSL that was very young in comparison to our normal starting lineup which features 7 players 30 years old or older:
- Kyle Reynish – GK – 28
- Carlos Salcedo – DF – 19
- Kwame Watson-Siriboe – DF – 25
- Chris Schuler – DF – 25
- Kenny Mansally – DF – 23
- Enzo Martinez – MF – 22
- Yordany Alvarez – MF – 27
- Sebastian Velasquez – MF – 21
- David Viana – MF – 20
- Emiliano Bonfigli – FW – 24
- Justin Braun – FW – 25
At the 30 minute mark, Nico Muniz (MF – 19) came in at midfield, while Enzo went to defense as Kwame left the match (he is still recovering form injury). This left me once again thinking about what RSL might look like in 2015. Of course I also have to remember a couple of others who while they weren’t involved in the reserve match are 25 or under, like Luis Gil (MF – 18), Will Johnson (MF – 25), Tony Beltran (DF – 24), Paulo Jr (FW – 23), and Lalo Fernandez (GK – 19).
A couple of others just miss my 25 year old mark, Jonny Steele (MF – 26), Fabian Espindola (FW – 27), but could play a role in the future as well.
OK time for some of the official stuff, first off let’s go with the highlight video of the match, which you can check out on the RSL website.
Here are some pictures from the match:
So I have to be honest I am very bummed that I had to leave after the first half of the reserve match between RSL and Houston this afternoon, but the day job had to be dealt with. Still there were some very interesting things from the first half worth taking notice of, first up is that it was the official debut of David Viana who signed with the team last month on the last day of MLS roster moves. He started out playing on the left side of the midfield and I thought his partnership with both Justin Braun and Kenny Mansally who were also focused on the left side of the pitch was very good. He showed some good quality on the ball and was able to make some very nice passes, he seems have a great vision for the game and a very accurate shot. He scored RSL’s second goal of the match, and a great shot from just outside the top of the area.
In his first official match with Real Salt Lake David Viana takes a shot from distance and scores his first goal for RSL.
It is another FIFA break and for Real Salt Lake that means another round of national team call ups. This time 5 RSL players are off to represent their national teams, first up is Luis Gil who is with the US U-20 team in Spain for the Marbella Cup.
You can check out this great interview with U-20 coach Tab Ramos from the US Soccer website where he talks about the tournament in which the US will take on CONCACAF rival Canada on Wednesday, Oct. 10, followed by Scotland on Friday, Oct. 12 and Azerbaijan on Tuesday, Oct. 16. This is a great chance for the U-20’s to get ready for next year’s qualification and U-20 World Cup.
Then there are the call ups that are part of this latest round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying, for the USMNT both Kyle Beckerman and Nick Rimando again were called in for the US which has a pair of matches. On Oct. 12th the US will play at Antiqua & Barbuda and then return to the US for a match on Oct. 16th against Guatemala which will be played at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park in Kansas City.
Will Johnson will again be representing Canada in their pair of matches, at Honduras and home against Cuba. While Alvaro Saborio will be suiting up for Costa Rica as they also have a pair of matches, El Salvador on the road and then Guyana at home. Read more
So on the last day to make roster moves, RSL made a move that nobody saw coming. They signed David Viana who had been with Atletico Madrid C (their reserve team) for the past year, but had spent time training with the first team. He had to return to Europe to get his paperwork in order and it is my understanding that his Work Visa is done and now they are just waiting on his ITC (International Transfer Certificate). It is my understanding that he should be ready to go on Oct. 10th when RSL’s reserve side will take on Houston’s reserves in a make up match. Then with so many players being gone on call ups (Beckerman, Johnson, Saborio, Gil, and maybe Rimando) and the injury of Ned Grabavoy, he could make the trip to Seattle for the match against the Sounders on Oct. 17th.
A lot of people wondered why a promising young player would leave Europe and come to MLS? It is a great question, it is my understanding that the move was about two things: He wanted to go somewhere he could play, and his agent believed it was a perfect fit with RSL. On thing was made really clear this week, it wasn’t a move made for the money. When the MLS Players Union released their latest salary information, we can see that David will make under $50,000 this year. To me that speaks volumes about the motivation level of this young player to not only try to get minutes, but to make a difference.