Tag Archive for Kwame Watson-Siriboe

Real Salt Lake hope to rebound vs a familiar NYCFC side

Six players on the NYCFC roster have worn the Claret and Cobalt of Real Salt Lake in the past, and two of their assistant coaches are former RSL staff members and of course their head coach is Jason Kreis, who’s history with RSL is written on the wall of Rio Tinto Stadium as the only MLS player to have his number retired by a team. NYCFC is an expansion side that Real Salt Lake should beat with ease, but this hasn’t been a normal season for RSL so far, in fact very few things about the team make any sense this year.

A 3-3-5 record would be more than good enough to make the playoffs in the Eastern Conference, but in the West that record isn’t good enough. In fact even if RSL wins on Saturday vs NYCFC it wouldn’t move them into a playoff position unless they can win by at least 3 goals, something that is very unlikely given have only scored 3 goals once (that crazy match against Philly) and each of our 3 wins so far have been by a single goal.  However given our 4-1 loss last weekend at Montreal, the only team in the East below NYCFC in the standings, a win of any sort isn’t a sure thing.

There will likely be a welcome surprise to the RSL 18 man roster for this match, the return of Joao Plata a player who last year was perhaps as much of the heart and soul of this team as anyone else on the roster. However with Javier Morales still likely to be out as he recovers from his concussion and Jordan Allen off with the US U-20 team, our midfield will be a bit light if RSL sticks with their modified 4-1-3-2 formation.  I do think the combo of Sabo and Sandoval up top poses real problems for the NYCFC defense, their size and strength will force Jason Hernandez and Chris Wingert to likely have to stay back more on defense and close to keeper Josh Saunders in order to deal with them.  The RSL defense which looked oh so shaky last weekend will have their own hands full as NYCFC try to figure out what their offense is all about, you would think with names like David Villa, Patrick Mullins and Mix Diskerud that they would have things figured out, but when your leading scorer is Mehdi Ballouchy, well things probably aren’t going as planned.

Read more

Real Salt Lake to host LA Galaxy in home opener – match preview

It seems almost amazing that Real Salt Lake already has two matches under their belts and now as spring has sprung they will start the home portion of their season by taking on the LA Galaxy again.  The first time around it was the Galaxy home opener and RSL was able to rain on their parade thanks to a Joao Plata goal and some amazing stops by Nick Rimando.  It was an exciting match as both side showed a little bit of rust but both showed that they can be very dangerous, it was lucky that Robbie Keane didn’t get a goal and unlucky that the officials got the call wrong on Luke Mulholland’s goal.  In the end it was a 1-0 win for RSL who notched their 5th straight opening day win, and now RSL will look to extend their undefeated home opening streak.  Oh I know that someone will think I am going to jinx them, but RSL has never lost a home opener, they may not have won all of them but never a loss.

For RSL it will be a real test as the injuries are piling up early on in the season, Findley, Sandoval, Velasquez, Morales, Allen, Maund, Schuler and Watson-Siriboe all have some type of injury issues they are dealing with. The upside is that newcomer Luke Mulholland has been a great surprise and Plata has started off the season as well as anyone in MLS. So with the home crowd behind them on a rare afternoon start, it should be a perfect chance to catch the two best teams in MLS over the last 5 seasons.

Read more

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.

Read more

Back to Practice for Real Salt Lake as MLS Cup looms

After a few days off to celebrate the holidays, RSL returned to practice on Sunday with a spirited 90 minute session that featured a variety of drills.  It was good to see Alvaro Saborio back to what appears to be close to full fitness, Chris Wingert was also an active participant but I believe he is still in some pain from the rib injuries suffered in the first leg against Portland. Devon Sandoval missed practice but Jason Kreis was confident (as was RSL PR man Sam Stejskal) that Devon would be ready to go by MLS Cup.

The drills started out small with smaller groups taking on each other in passing and possession drills and the scale kept getting larger and larger as practice went along, towards the end the keepers and groups of players broke off and started working on taking and defending PK’s (a sure sign that we are in full playoff mode).

Listening to a number of players and Jason talk after practice the group is fully aware of the task in front of them, they seem very focused while someone remaining relaxed.  Perhaps that is the veteran influence as RSL has a good number of players from the 2009 MLS Cup win on their roster (Nick Rimando, Chris Wingert, Tony Beltran, Nat Borchers, Kyle Beckerman, Ned Grabavoy, Javier Morales, and Robbie Findley) and with 6 straight seasons of playoff runs and this years US Open Cup run, every player on the roster has dealt with high pressure situations. That experience should provide a calming effect next Saturday as the big match hype has to be dealt with.

I was able to catch up with a couple of players after practice, first up is Lovel Palmer:

Read more

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.

Read more

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.

Read more

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.

Read more

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.

Read more

Real Salt Lake vs LA Galaxy – The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly 2 – Match Preview

It was just over a month ago that RSL hosted the LA Galaxy and while the roster for LA featured some names you wouldn’t have expected, the most surprising fact of the night was that LA was able to get two goals in the first 15 minutes and then hold on to keep the 2-0 win.  It wasn’t surprising that LA would get a win in Salt Lake, they have done so before, including last years 3-2 come from behind win, it was however that RSL gave up early goals.  So far this season RSL has allowed 15 goals, just 5 in the first half of matches and only one other team has scored in the first 30 minutes against RSL.  I count that match fluke, if you look at the numbers it is late goals for and against is what you should expect from these two sides, RSL has scored 11 of their 21 goals in the final 30 minutes of matches, LA has 10 of their 21 in the same time frame.  It is also when both sides have shown some weakness on defense, RSL has allowed 5 of their 15 goal allowed in the final 15 minutes of matches, but LA has allowed 9 of their 15 allowed in the final 15 minutes.  Yes, both sides have scored 21 and allowed 15 goals so far this season.

If it is consistency that RSL has found of late, 4-1-1 in their last 6 matches with multiple goals scored in 5 of them, then LA’s recent performances have to be described as erratic, 2-4-0 in their last 6 with some of the most puzzling scorelines of the season.  After a 3-1 loss at Vancouver, they rebound with a 4-1 win at Philly, then after thumping Seattle 4-0 at Home they get beat last weekend 5-0 by the New England Revolution.  Historically there are few head to head matchups that are a close as RSL vs LA, each side has 9 wins against the other with 5 draws and RSL holds a slight 38 to 35 edge in goals scored. In Utah RSL has a 4-3-4 record against LA with just a 19 to 17 goals scored advantage.

The Good:

Robbie Findley – It has been interesting listening to some RSL fans moan and complain about Robbie, not unexpected, but interesting as few of them knew the behind the scenes injury issues he has been dealing with.  Of course most of those folks have been quiet the last couple of matches with two goals and one assist in RSL’s last 3 matches.  As RSL head coach Jason Kreis said last week, it looks like Robbie is finally healthy and finding his form, and if that is the case and he can stay in form and healthy it is a very good thing for RSL. His ability to partner with Sabo, Plata or whoever else RSL puts up top with him is outstanding as Robbie now is a player who understands how to create chances for himself as well as his teammates.  I really believe the best is yet to come from Robbie Findley.

Read more

Real Salt Lake vs. San Jose Earthquakes – The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly – Match Preview

Well the RSL season started out at San Jose and in that match “The Goonies” were silenced as RSL picked up the 2-0 win, and after a 2012 season that saw the Quakes lose just 6 matches all season while scoring 72 goals (2.12 per match) on their way to winning the Supporter’s Shield, 2013 hasn’t been so kind.  San Jose has lost 5 of their first 14 (the same number as RSL), they have won just 3 matches and are 0-4-2 on the road, but perhaps more alarming is that they have scored just 13 goals (0.93 per match).

Now they still have that never say die mentality and have been able to score 7 of their 13 goals in the final 15 minutes of matches, and that has given them a 2-5-4 record when allowing the first goal (RSL is 1-4-1), but the lack of goals is clear in the fact that they have only scored the first goal in a match 3 times (RSL has 8 times) for a 1-0-2 record (RSL is 5-1-2).  Last year a lot of San Jose’s success came from Alan Gordon (13 goals and 7 assists) and Steven Lenhart (10 goals and 2 assists), but neither of them have scored a goal yet this year. Instead it is rookie Adam Jahn (4 goals) who has been the support for the main Quakes threat, which remains Chris Wondolowski (5 goals and 3 assists).  San Jose will come to Rio Tinto missing a few players for various reasons; Nana Attakora and Ty Harden will be out with injuries, Marvin Chavez and Victor Bernardez who are gone for international duty.  They are also coming off a US Open Cup loss on Tuesday, they lost to the Charleston Battery, and the Quakes have just a single win in their last 10 MLS matches.

Real Salt Lake has one thing in common with San Jose, the ability to score late goals, RSL has 8 of their 18 in the final 15 minutes, and 11 of their 18 have come in the final 30 minutes of matches.  Another thing is that both sides have given up goals late in matches, both sides have given up 6 goals in the final 30 minutes of matches, for RSL 5 of those have come in the final 15 minutes.  We say late goals rob RSL of points a couple weeks ago in Montreal, and even last weekend RSL had to settle for a 1-1 draw with the Chicago Fire.  For RSL the international call ups will hit after this weekend, but injury issues will keep Alvaro Saborio out of action on Saturday, it was Sabo who scored both goals against San Jose on the opening weekend of the season.  Still RSL has plenty of weapons, 6 players have scored multiple goals so far this season (Saborio, Ned Grabavoy, Javier Morales, Olmes Garcia, Luis Gil, and Robbie Findley) and 3 more have scored one. San Jose has two players with multiple goals (Wondolowski and Jahn) and 3 others players have scored a single goal for the Quakes.

The Good:

Luis Gil – if you believe the projected lineup from the match guide, Luis will be getting the start at the top of the diamond after Javier Morales went a full 120 minutes on Tuesday in a very physical match in US Open Cup action.  I think this plays perfectly for Luis, at the point of the diamond he is able to dictate the match and gets a good number of touches, unlike when he is on the outside of the diamond where he sometimes gets lost in the match.  I liked what Luis did early in the season when Javi was out hurt, and expect that we might see him back to that much more active role on Saturday.  With the U20 World Cup coming up this summer, the more quality minutes we can get from Luis now will allow other midfielders a chance to rest a bit. In that 2-0 opening day win, Luis went all 90 minutes with 2 shots taken (1 on goal), it should be interesting to see how he matches up against the Quakes midfield.

Read more