So if you looked at the stat sheet from Tuesday or watched the match you have little doubt who was the dominant team, but we live in a results driven world and for RSL the result wasn’t there. Heck you can go back to the first match in Costa Rica, where despite being down a man for 30 minutes, RSL dominated possession, passing, shots, and shots on goal, but came up short in a 1-0 loss, to know that without scoring goals from all those chances, well it is hard to win a match.
Despite the weather on Tuesday, the match was very high action and fast paced in the first half with both sides creating some good offensive chances. RSL had the better of play and had several chances to score, but as has happened too many times this year, we failed to finish those chances. It should come as little surprise to anyone that as the second half progressed that Herediano packed it in and slowed down both the pace and the match as often as they could. As the end of the match drew near we were left with a match that the official had lost control of as Herediano simply laid down, fell down, faked injuries, and even took intentional yellow cards for delay. I am left wondering if when they first started those tactics (about the 70th minute) if he had issued a yellow or two for delay if the match might not have digressed to the pathetic level it did.
Still to lay blame on the officials or tactics/antics of CS Herediano for the loss would be wrong and missing the point. In a must win match, you must score, you must take shots when they are presented to you, and must finish your chances. RSL had 11 corner kicks, 18 free kicks, and 26 crosses from open play, and despite ending up with 18 shots and 8 of those being on goal, RSL was unable to get the single goal that would have advanced them to the knockout rounds of the Champions League.
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.
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
For the second weekend in a row Real Salt Lake heads into the Home Depot Center and leave with a huge win. Last weekend it was a 4-0 win over Chivas USA, and on Saturday it was a hard fought 2-1 win over the LA Galaxy. Huge as RSL win the season series with the Galaxy and gain valuable points that will play a huge role in the playoffs.
RSL is officially out of the hunt for the Supporters’ Shield as San Jose picked up their 19th win of the season and lead RSL by 9 points with two matches left. Still every point matters as both playoff positioning as well as potential hosting rights for MLS Cup will likely be decided by points won in the last weeks of the season.
For RSL the man of the match was clearly Fabian Espindola who last weekend provided 3 assists and this weekend scored both of RSL’s goals, his 8th and 9th of the season. Of course there was also some huge saves from Nick Rimando and incredible defensive work from all the guys which kept the 20 shots from LA out of the net 19 times. RSL showed that while they may like to play a style where they dominate possession, they don’t need to do that in order to win. It was quality of shots that mattered for RSL who took just 12 but had the same number (6) that ended up on goal and one more than they did that found the back of the net.
For me as a RSL fan there is no better rivalry in Major League soccer, notice I didn’t say the biggest, or fiercest, but I said no better. Here is why, since RSL joined the league in 2005 the teams have played each other 21 times in regular season action, each side has 8 victories and there have been 5 draws. RSL has an edge in goals scored of 36 to 32, and there has never been a 0-0 draw between the two teams. Then add in the 2009 MLS Cup final, when RSL played the spoiler to pull off a PK shootout victory to lift the Cup, and you can also add last year’s Western Conference final where RSL scored first but LA answered back to win the match 3-1.
Even with the current coaches of the teams things are even, Bruce Arena is 4-4-4 against RSL and Jason Kreis is 5-4-4 against the LA Galaxy. LA is 12-3-1 against RSL when they score first, and RSL is 14-1-0 against LA when they score first. This year the teams find themselves locked in a battle for playoff position as both have punched their playoff tickets already this year, RSL has a slight edge with 52 points and a 16-11-4 record, while the Galaxy have 50 points with a 15-11-5 record. LA is at +12 in goal differential, while RSL is at +10 at this point of the season.
Don’t get me wrong there are huge differences between the teams; LA is in the 2nd largest city in the US, while RSL is in the smallest market in MLS. RSL has a payroll of 3.58 million dollars, while the Galaxy have a player that makes more than that by himself, and another who makes just 175K less than our entire roster, in total the Galaxy payroll is over 12 million dollars.
So what is going to happen when these two very different teams face off on Saturday? Read more