Tag Archive for Robbie Findley

Real Salt Lake at Portland Timbers – The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly match preview

So for Real Salt Lake their match at Portland on Wednesday could be the most important match of the rest of the MLS regular season.  With just 9 league matches remaining, 3 of them will be against the Timbers, so while we saw them in US Open Cup action this will be a chance to set the tone for a third of the remaining regular season.   To be honest given the recent performances of RSL (2-2 draw at Colorado, 1-0 win over Houston, and 4-2 loss at LA) this could represent the best chance to get things back going in a positive direction, a chance to like they did earlier this summer to get on a good run of form (11 matches without a loss).  That could really help them over the longer run, were the 9 remaining MLS league matches are spread over 10 weeks, a far cry from the 10 matches in 7 weeks (June and July) or 7 matches in 27 days which is the August Schedule.

There are no easy matches for RSL the rest of the way, every match is either against a Western Conference opponent and/or a team in the thick of the playoff hunt so every point will be vital if RSL want to keep ahold of the top spot in the West or the overall table.  I am still holding out hope that RSL can find a way to pick up 9 points in their next 5 matches which include 3 at home in addition to the Wednesday match at Portland and a trip to Seattle.  The 50 point tier is a huge one as it would be hard to miss the playoffs with 50 points and it would mark (if RSL can get there before LA) the first time a MLS team has had 4 straight seasons with at least 50 points.  That is perhaps the best testament to the consistency that RSL has built since winning MLS Cup, but clearly the goal isn’t just that mark but to secure some actual silverware.  MLS Cup and the playoffs are a crap shoot where an off night can sink you in a hurry, but with RSL still seriously in the hunt for the Supporter’s Shield and with the US Open Cup final coming in just over a month, both provide real chances to add a trophy to the collection.

The Timbers are a team that simply doesn’t lose often,  just 3 losses in 23 matches and they have shown that they are a team unafraid of physical play but one that prefers to play a more attacking style (more direct than RSL) but at least better than the bunker and long ball of some teams around the league.   It has been interesting to watch how quickly a new coach and a couple of new players have been able to change the very culture of the Timbers, who remind me a lot of the 2009 RSL squad that simply refused to give up, that went “balls to the wall” from whistle to whistle and fought for each other unlike any team I have seen before or since.   It is hard in MLS or any league to face the same team several times a season, even harder to defeat an opponent several times in one season, but for both the Timbers and RSL they will be trying to do just that.  The Timbers players and staff looked gutted after their loss in US Open Cup action just a couple of weeks ago, and now with two league matches against each other in the next two weeks the stakes are just as high as the Timbers look to secure as many points as possible in their attempt to claim their first shot at the MLS playoffs in what is a very tight Western Conference.

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Real Salt Lakes takes on Houston as brutal August continues

Well we are 10 days into August and RSL is facing their third match of the month today as they will play host to the Houston Dynamo.  The Dynamo are a interesting foe, they are the team that has played in back to back MLS Cups only to come up shy each time.  The Dynamo are a very typical MLS team, they try to keep their core of players together while adding the right pieces to replace those who have left, it is a story common to fans of every MLS team and one way to common for RSL fans.

RSL has never had a lot of success against the Dynamo, just 3-9-5 and even at home RSL is more likely to get a draw with Houston with a 3-1-4 record in Utah.  This hasn’t been a good year for RSL against what is often perceived as the weaker Eastern Conference, with just a 2-4-2 record, so Saturday will provide a chance to secure 3 much needed points at home which would allow them to stay on top of both the MLS table and the Western Conference.

The Dynamo are an interesting team, since moving to Houston the Dynamo have seemed to know just when to peak in the MLS season, mid summer to late fall and it has paid off with them winning MLS Cup in 2006 and 2007 their first two teams in their new home town, playing in two more MLS Cups (2011 & 2012) and have missed the playoffs just once (2010) since moving from San Jose.  That is consistency at a very high level, given the fact that they moved cities, have moved conferences and dealt with a revolving door of players but at the helm has been Dominic Kinnear.   The changes have been huge over the last couple of years, Stuart Holden left, Ricardo Clark left (and is now back), Geoff Cameron has left, and while Brain Ching is still with the team he now plays a very limited role (0 starts, 13 appearances, 0 goals, 1 assist).

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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.

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Real Salt Lake vs. Sporting KC – The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly Match preview

Just past the midway point of the MLS season, Real Salt Lake and Sporting KC find themselves facing off on Saturday, each represents the top team in their conference and probably the two best teams in the league right now.  There are some similarities between the two sides they both have a lot of talented players, both play an aggressive style of soccer, both look to force their opponents to play their style.  Of course there are some huge differences as well, RSL plays a passing game that controls long stretches of the match, SKC is a bit more frantic on the pitch with high pressure on the ball, RSL will defend with every player on the pitch, while SKC rely a lot more on their defenders and that high pressure. The one clear thing is, that both sides are very good at what they do.

Sporting KC is one of the reasons why I hate the unbalanced schedule, there are some players on their team that I love to watch play the game, Graham Zusi has quickly become one of the most exciting players in MLS. Kei Kamara is just fun to watch, and has a sparkling personality on and off the pitch, while he may have heart shaped hands it is clear that he has a huge heart to match them.  Teal Bunbury and CJ Sapong both can provide exiting moments at any time during a match.  Aurelien Collin is one of the most fierce defenders in MLS, and while I may not always be a fan of the physical way he plays, you can’t deny the results.  Only getting to see these guys and the rest of SKC only once every two years seems like a real disservice to MLS fans in the Western Conference.

For Real Salt Lake this match may be one of the toughest tests of the year, a top opponent in good form (SKC is 3-0-1 in their last 4 matches), a roster that is stretched thin by call ups and injuries.  With a overall 11 match unbeaten streak on the line RSL is going to have to rely on names like Aaron Maund, Jeff Attinella, and Yordany Alvarez, the upside is that all season long the unfamiliar names have stepped up and not only delivered but most often over delivered. For RSL to keep their streak alive that will have to happen again on Saturday.

The Good:

Javier Morales – Hot off his Goal of the Week goal (which really shouldn’t have won) will come a very tough test for Javi, where his skills on both sides of the ball will be tested by a strong and physical team(RSL has committed 235 fouls this season, SKC has 293).  We all know how good Javi can be on the offensive side of the ball his 5 goals and 8 assists have been a real difference maker for RSL, 3 of those goals have been game winners for RSL.  Javi has never had a lot of success against Sporting KC, just a single assist in his 6 matches against them, but I think the biggest thing on Saturday will be how he responds to the pressure of SKC, and if he can quickly move the ball into dangerous positions.

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Real Salt Lake bolsters their defense adding Brandon McDonald

With long term injuries to Rich Balchan, Kwame Watson-Siriboe, and still waiting for the return of Chris Schuler, RSL needed to add some depth at centerback as we enter the dog days of summer and very important stretch of the season.  While it may seem a bit strange that RSL would go to the team at the very bottom of the MLS table, it would be hard to lay any of the blame for DC United’s struggles on Brandon McDonald.

Brandon is a 27 year old 6’1″ center back for whom RSL will be his 4th MLS club in 6 seasons, he started with the LA Galaxy, then spend 2 and a half seasons with San Jose before joining DC United.  Last year with all the success that DC had, it is important to note that McDonald played in 33 of 34 regular season matches and had almost 4,000 minutes over the course of the season.  He has seen limited action this year, due to injuries and to be honest the continuing struggles this year of DC.  A couple of bad matches for a player on a bad team and your confidence can be shot (we have seen this before) but perhaps a new start is just what the doctor would have ordered in this case.

He did go the full 90 minutes against RSL in week 2 of the season, that match was one of two wins so far this season for DC United.  RSL knows him well as he has 6 starts and played in 8 matches against RSL since joining MLS. He is big, physical and not afraid of contact, I think in combination with our current guys he could be a great fit and should also provide RSL with another target player on set pieces.   It will be exciting to see how he approaches this phase of his career,  one downside is that McDonald is cup tied to DC United, so he won’t be able to play for RSL in the US Open Cup.

That’s How I See It.

 

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.

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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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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.

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Real Salt Lake’s best half of the season in 3-0 win over San Jose

For the first time at home this season, RSL scored 3 goals in a match, heck what makes it even more impressive is they did it all in the first half and against San Jose.  Perhaps a bit of revenge for the sweep we suffered last year, or maybe it is all just starting to come together, much like RSL GM Garth Lagerwey has been saying all year?  One this is for sure, as a fan it sure was a lot of fun to watch.  As it seemed like Javier Morales, Joao Plata, Ned Grabavoy and Robbie Findley were sharing one mind, each played a role in at least one if not all of the RSL goals, including the Goal of the Week nominee by Robbie Findley.  How bad was it, well Frank Yallop made two tactical subs in the first half bringing in Rafael Baca for Sam Cronin and Steven Lenhart for Adam Jahn.

With those changes San Jose seemingly woke up and started to play better, where the highlight of half may have been seeing a bleeding Steven Lenhart, after a collision with Kwame Watson-Siribore on a corner kick mixer in the area, I do hope he isn’t hurt badly.  There were also some save of the week caliber saves by Nick Rimando, who picked up his 107th MLS clean sheet. RSL kept pushing for more goals but Jon Busch was able to prevent any more goals from being scored on a night when RSL clearly new the recipe for his beans (that one came from the stands and was too good not to include).

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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.

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