U.S. Men’s National Team Manager Jurgen Klinsmann sure seems like a fan of Salt Lake City.
Klinsmann was very complimentary of SLC and Real Salt Lake on Friday in a U.S. Soccer Q&A ahead of Tuesday’s World Cup Qualifier against Honduras at Rio Tinto Stadium. Good thing, too: After spending six days in town ahead of Tuesday’s qualifier, Klinsmann and the USMNT will return to Utah in just a few short weeks for its July 13 CONCACAF Gold Cup match against Cuba in Sandy.
Here’s what Klinsmann’s expecting from Tuesday’s sold-out Rio Tinto Stadium crowd:
”Everybody was thrilled to experience Seattle [where the U.S. beat Panama 2-0 on June 11]. Everybody said afterwards, ‘Wow, this was definitely the right decision to go all the way to the Northwest from Jamaica.’ We spent eight hours on the plane, but then we were thrilled because the support was just amazing and we expect the same at Rio Tinto Stadium. We know this is a very passionate crowd, they love soccer here in Salt Lake and what happens with Real Salt Lake similar to the Sounders is just wonderful. It shows how strong MLS has become, how strong soccer has become in this country. It’s more proof of it, and therefore we can’t wait to start that game. I’m sure the fans will carry us through the game, help us to push the envelope, help us keep the energy high and help get these three points that we badly need.”
U.S. Soccer published a nice video piece on Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando on Sunday ahead of Tuesday's World Cup Qualifier against Honduras at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Check it out to get Nick's thoughts on being with the national team, plus some added color from his U.S. teammates Tim Howard, Michael Bradley and Sacha Kljestan.
Real Salt Lake midfielder Luis Gil suffered a setback in the U.S. Under-20’s friendly win over Portugal on Friday, starting and coming off in the 40th minute after colliding heads with a Portuguese defender.
Gil joined the U-20’s last week for a training camp in Portugal ahead of the U-20 World Cup in Turkey. The U.S. is drawn into the tournament’s “Group of Death” with Spain, France and Ghana. The Stars-and-Stripes will open the tournament against Spain next Friday. The top two teams from each of the six groups and the top-four third-place teams in the tournament will advance to the Round of 16.
There’s no word yet on the severity of Gil’s injury. We’ll update as soon as we know more.
Update (5:45 p.m. MT on Friday): Sounds like Gil will be alright. According to a U.S. Soccer representative, the 19-year-old midfielder substition was merely precautionary.
Lower-league opponents in the U.S. are nearly always a tricky bag, and Charleston Battery further exemplified this rule. Compact, decisive, and quick, the Battery gave everyone a good scare when they scored the first two goals of the match. The question, then: How did Real Salt Lake adjust for their comeback?
Everyone got better. This is easy to say and hard to do, and it doesn't say much of anything from a tactical perspective. That said, it's difficult to execute any tactical decisions when you're looking at the worst you've been in some time. Everybody stepped up their quality in the second half.
A center back was removed. With the impetus on Real Salt Lake to get back into the affair, and with the Battery quite rightly sitting very deep and hoping to fend off an undoubtedly inevitable onslaught, two defenders almost seemed extraneous. Making his first club appearance — an admittedly poor one at that — Aaron Maund stepped off shortly into the second half and Jason Kreis switched the formation.
It took a quintessential attacking 3-4-3 to really break down the Battery defense. Joao Plata and Robbie Findley occupied the attacking flanks, with Devon Sandoval serving as a target man and grabbing two headed goals along the way. Javier Morales and Ned Grabavoy served as the more-attacking midfielders (they really did all attack) and Khari Stephenson and Kyle Beckerman sat deeper and more centrally. Chris Wingert tucked in slightly centrally to position himself better for runs down the middle, and Tony Beltran bombed forward from right back to stretch play.
We stretched play superbly. When we face a hyper-defensive side — and again, there's not an ounce of blame in that for Charleston in their strategy — we have historically struggled to break them down. With Findley and Plata wide to stretch play laterally and Devon Sandoval to stretch along the vertical axis, it became difficult for Charleston to ignore any of those three players up top. Given their proclivity for staying in central positions, this opened room for Plata and Findley to receive clever passes from the midfield and cut inside. Even when they weren't involved in goalscoring movement like that, both players were important to the fightback.
RSL-Arizona Academy PR ace Garrett Cleverly will provide us with periodic updates from the Casa Grande Academy. Garrett's latest update is below - Follow him and the Grande Sports Academy on Twitter and check the Grande Sports Academy blog, Facebook page and Instagram for all the latest info on RSL's youth development program.
- Former academy player Maikon Orellana signed his first pro contract with historic Danish club Brondby IF.
- Justen Glad, Brooks Lennon and Bofo Saucedo, fresh off their successful spell with the U17 MNT in Azerbaijan, talk about their experience of playing in the Caspian Cup.
- Real Salt Lake U-18′s & U-16′s closed out an extremely successful season that saw a number of academy records fall. Here are some interesting and notable numbers from the past season.
- Chase Bishov was selected to participate in “Brophy High School’s Annual Guatemala Immersion Experience and Church in the Modern World Senior Theology Elective.” Bishov spent 13 days in Guatemala and talked about the experience here.
- Brooks Lennon has been asked to play with Liverpool FC in the 2013 Milk Cup.
- The Academy teams played their last games of the regular season on June 3rd with the U-18’s turning in a dominant 8-2 win over Arsenal FC and the U-16’s tying the same side 1-1 at Grande Sports Academy on Saturday. Both the U-18’s and the U-16’s finished the regular season second in the Southwest Division. Pictures from the U18 game here. Pictures from the U16 game here.
- Both the U-18’s and the U-16’s qualified for the USSDA Playoffs and Showcase, which will be held from June 24-28 at FC Dallas Park in Frisco, Texas. The draw for the Academy Playoffs is scheduled for Monday, June 17. The top sides from the Academy Playoffs will advance to U.S. Soccer’s Finals Week in Houston from July 14-20.
- Final standings update for the Real Salt Lake U18 & U16 Academy teams in the Southwest Division.
- Real Salt Lake has invited Andrew Brody to train with the first team until June 15th. He also played in a reserve game vs San Jose Earthquakes on June 1st and earned praise or his performance.
- Brandon Johnston and Kostas Kotselas celebrated graduation from Mission Heights Preparatory High School. Haedan Turner celebrated graduation from Primavera High School.
- GSA Exports is our newest feature. It's where we track the progress of our former players who are playing at the next level. Academy alums featured in MLS, the MLS Reserve League and in PDL over the last week. Read about them all here.
- Graduating seniors share their thoughts on playing their final game for the Grande Sports Academy.
- Looking for a soccer camp this summer? RSL-AZ will have camps running through July. Details here.
Real Salt Lake advanced to the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Quarterfinals on Wednesday night, scoring five unanswered goals to beat the Charleston Battery 5-2 at Rio Tinto Stadium in the tournament's fourth-round.
Here are a few interesting numbers from the match:
Wednesday’s offensive output of five goals marked the fourth-straight match across all competitions that saw RSL score at least three goals. The Claret-and-Cobalt has now scored three or more goals in five of its last six matches across all competitions dating back to May 19.
RSL has now scored 25 goals in its last nine matches across all competitions. That’s good for 2.78 goals per game. That’s absurd.
Real Salt Lake is now 7-1-1 in its last nine games across all competitions dating back to the team’s 2-0 win over Vancouver Whitecaps FC on May 4. The Claret-and-Cobalt has scored multiple goals in eight of those nine games and outscored its opponents 25-11 during that span.
Real Salt Lake forward Devon Sandoval – who scored two goals on Wednesday night – now has three Open Cup goals in just two career games in the tournament. The rookie second-rounder is tied for the all-time RSL lead in Open Cup goals with Head Coach Jason Kreis, Head Scout Andy Williams and Captain Kyle Beckerman.
RSL will return to the Open Cup on Wednesday, June 26, when it will host the NASL Carolina RailHawks in the tournament’s Quarterfinals at 7:30 p.m. at Rio Tinto Stadium. This is just the third-time in Claret-and-Cobalt history that the team has advanced to the Open Cup Quarters – RSL lost at this stage in the 2006 and 2011 tournament. Tickets to the June 26 game against Carolina – which are not included in the RSL Season Ticket Package – are for sale at the Rio Tinto Stadium box office, online or over the phone at 801-727-2700.
Real Salt Lake's continued run in the US Open Cup presents its own tactical problems, from the need for rotation to questions about how both the defense and attack will deal with a certain-to-be-resolute Charleston Battery defense.
There are two well-balanced opinions that play into a match like this: In one, the impetus on Kreis should be about rotation and ensuring squad fitness; in the other, the impetus is the opposite, and he should roll out a squad best-fitted to win. The point of balance lies somewhere between the two, but with a weekend off for once, it's difficult to argue if veterans play all 90 (and hopefully a positive 90 and not a negative 90 or a nail-biting 120) against Charleston Battery.
But some rotation will happen naturally. Sebastian Velasquez is a sure-starter in the midfield, and he may just take the place of Luis Gil with no other general changes to the setup. Devon Sandoval might get another chance to start up top after a fine performance in the last round of the Cup. Carlos Salcedo and Kwame Watson-Siriboe, too, may get another chance to partner, allowing Nat Borchers a rest.
Push and Pull
Real Salt Lake has been incredibly successful in moments of transition this season (when, of course, the transition if rom defense to attack) and one might attribute a number of our goals to that fact. But this becomes difficult to manage effectively when the opposition plays withdrawn, and our mode of scoring has to shift. With a tricky midfielder or two — Velasquez and the ever-effective Javier Morales — Charleston's midfield and defense will be kept busy; this leaves important spaces for forwards to run into.
Devon Sandoval could be incredibly effective against this level of side, as well. He's still adjusting to MLS play (though remarkably well, it must be said) but he has a golden opportunity to get in the heads of the Battery defense. With midfield runs occupying some attention, the remainder might be shifted to him, leaving a free forward. His uncanny ability to retain the ball and make a safe if unexciting pass can sometimes be an effect of tentative play, but it's this sort of passing and movement that will have the biggest impact on a less-able defense. He'll push and pull defenders out of position — it's important that he makes the right decisions in that regard.
How many times have we conceded an unnecessary goal at some point in the match simply because it looked like our collective minds were elsewhere? We saw it in the last round of the Open Cup: We can't go around conceding cheap goals and risking a loss or even another overtime excursion. With bodies bursting forward in efforts to score and unlock what may be a staunch defense, the match becomes more difficult to manage.
It'll be vital that, when everyone is forward, the three or so defenders that have stayed back are in good positions to recover and can communicate danger to their teammates. Otherwise, we may be looking at another match where we're on the cusp of something great, but mistakes see us caught out.
Real Salt Lake doesn't have much history in the U.S. Open Cup, but it has had a few good moments over the years.
We've put together a couple of the Claret-and-Cobalt's "Signature Moments" in the Open Cup ahead of Wednesday's fourth-round match between RSL and the Charleston Battery at Rio Tinto Stadium.
May 28, 2013 - RSL beats the Atlanta Silverbacks 3-2 in dramatic fashion in the 2013 third-round.
June 28, 2011 - Highlights from RSL's 2-0 win over the Wilmington Hammerheads in the fourth-round of the 2011 Open Cup. Defender Tony Beltran and former RSL man Jean Alexandre scored for the Claret-and-Cobalt; the goal is the only one of Beltran's career.
Way, way back on July 29, 2006, Real Salt Lake converted a pair of penalty kicks in second half stoppage time to beat D.C. United 2-1 at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
The D.C. player who conceded both penalties? John Wilson, now a defender with the USL Pro Charleston Battery.
Oh, and the color commentator on the broadcast is none other than RSL GM Garth Lagerwey, D.C.'s TV analyst from 2001-2007.
RSL will host the Battery in the fourth-round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup at 7:30 p.m. at Rio Tinto Stadium on Wednesday. Click here to get your tickets.
The Real Salt Lake U-18′s & U-16′s recently closed out an extremely successful regular season that saw a number of academy records fall. Here are some interesting and notable numbers from the past season.
Real Salt Lake U-18′s & U-16′s have both qualified for the playoffs in three consecutive years.
In the season ending victory over Arsenal FC, Real Salt Lake U-18′s matched an academy best with eight goals in a game, previously done on May 19th, 2012 against Strikers FC.
The U-16′s set an academy best in goals scored and goals allowed this season. The 68 goals scored this season surpasses the previous high of 64 in 2010-2011, and the 34 goals allowed is the best since 38 in 2010-2011.
Represents the amount players who graduated from High School this year and will be moving into the collegiate ranks in the fall. Eight of these graduating seniors have been at the academy since the beginning: Jose “Coco” Navarro, Luis Chavez, Cesar Cobos, Eric Gonzalez, Isaias “Junior” Juarez, Jose “Bean” Vasquez, Danny Gavin and Jon Zabasajja.
When Carlos Salcedo came on as a sub in the 89th minute of RSL's 2-0 win against the Vancouver Whitecaps on May 4 at Rio Tinto Stadium, he became the first player from the academy to play for the Claret-and-Cobalt first team.
The U-18′s set a new record for wins in a season along with lowering the academy record for losses and draws in a season. The previous high for wins was 16 in the 2011-2012 season, the previous low for losses was 8 in the 2010-2011 season and the 4 draws this season lowered the previous high of 5 the past 2 seasons.
Coco Navarro equalized a U-18 record of 20 goals in a season set by Maikon Orrellana in the 2010-2011 season. Navarro is now the sole leader in goals scored for the academy with 45 in three seasons.
The U-18′s set a new record for points in the season with 61, surpassing the previous high of 53 in the 2011-2012 season.
Dillon Nino started and played in 28 games this season, tied for the most in the nation with one other U-16 player.
The percentage of the U.S. U-17 team's goals scored by RSL-AZ Academy U-16's Brooks Lennon and Sebastian “Bofo” Saucedo during last week's Caspian Cup. Lennon recorded two hat-tricks and scored a total of seven goals and Bofo recorded one hat-trick and scored a total of four goals. The U-17 MNT scored a total of 19 goals in the Cup.