Real Salt Lake will face off against former Claret-and-Cobalt players Fabian Espindola, Jamison Olave and Jonny Steele for the first time this Saturday, when RSL will take on the trio's New York Red Bulls at 5:00 p.m. MT at Red Bull Arena on ABC 4.
RSL Head Coach Jason Kreis, defender Nat Borchers and midfielder Ned Grabavoy have already shared their thoughts on going up against the former RSL men. On Thursday, Espindola and Steele spoke to NewYorkRedBulls.com about facing off against their former team.
"It's going to be special," Espindola said. "I know that they're a great team. They're going to play and be a tough team to beat."
"Everything about Real Salt Lake was good for me," he continued. "I have a lot of good things from my time there and I'm grateful for that team."
Steele - who made his MLS debut as a member of RSL against the Red Bulls on March 17, 2012 - was also complimentary of the Claret-and-Cobalt.
"Salt Lake is a small franchise but they do things right and things are professional," he said. "All around they've got great coaches and they've been succesful."
Espindola is particularly looking forward to the on-field battle between Olave and RSL maestro Javier Morales on Saturday.
"I was just joking with [Olave] about how I'm going to laugh when I watch him and [Javier Morales] fighting," he said. "That's going to be funny.
- The last couple of weeks have been pretty hectic after getting my first games. A lot of my friends that I haven’t talked to in a while have been reaching out to me, I had my parents fly in last minute for the Sporting KC game, my in-laws came in, so it’s been pretty hectic, but it’s been fun too. I didn’t want to go the whole season and not feel like I was a part of the team and didn’t contribute in any way, so to get the opportunity to contribute is something that I’ve really appreciated.
- After I made my debut in the Dallas game it was pretty wild. Leading up to Kansas City I was just doing my best to kind of focus. I was on edge a little bit all week and I think I got my wife pretty annoyed with me, but it’s starting to settle in. This week I definitely feel a lot more comfortable; I’m not on pins and needles this week the way I was last week.
- It was tough not getting any games for four or five months and then getting thrown in there. I mean it still is tough; I have big shoes to fill with Nick and Josh. It’s kind of funny because I hadn’t been playing much in Reserve games either, so I hadn’t really gotten many minutes at all and just to get my first 90 minutes with RSL against a MLS team in a game where its first-place vs. first-place, sold-out stadium, and then to have everything go the way it did and the end to happen the way it did, I feel like I experienced at least five months worth of emotion in about 90 minutes.
- While it’s definitely been pretty crazy, I’m just appreciative that the staff trusts me enough to throw me into that situation. To be able to contribute to the team in a positive manner – which I feel like I’ve done so far – is something I’ve really, really appreciated.
- The support from the fans has definitely been incredible. I think coming in at Dallas and making a great save probably had something to do with that, because I can’t imagine the expectations were that high originally. But the team support as well has been really what has been helping me get through this. Nick has been reaching out to me a bunch, telling me to keep calm and play my game. Josh has been really supportive as well, which is obviously tough in his situation. And all the teammates have really shown a lot of faith in me. That they feel comfortable with me back there means everything. The support from really the whole RSL family has been pretty incredible, actually.
- Where I was in preseason and where I am now I think that I’m such a better ‘keeper. A lot of that is a credit to Nick and Josh, just watching them train, picking their brains every chance I can. Obviously working with [Goalkeeper Coach Jeff Cassar] has been great as well, but to be able to see these two guys up close and personal every day for five months, I’ve learned so much from them.
- We’re obviously in a pretty weird goalie situation here with four goalies on the roster. Josh has been a starter in this league for a long time, Nick is obviously the best goalie in the league and then there’s Lalo and I, so the goalkeeper situation I think had a chance to be pretty awkward and unsupportive because everyone’s competing for a certain spot. Thankfully, it’s been the opposite of that and I think that speaks really highly to the type of people that Nick and Josh both are.
- Honestly, coming out of college, I thought not making RSL and going to the minors was a huge setback. You don’t really know how hard it is to make it to this level right out of school. I was first-team All-American my junior year, I went overseas a couple of times and did really well, so I thought things were going to come pretty easy, to be honest and to go down to the minors right away and get drafted in the Supplemental Draft and not taken on the first day was a huge wakeup call. But it was a blessing in disguise. I went down to the Tampa Bay Rowdies and got 50+ games and gained a ton of experience. Obviously I got to stay in my hometown for two extra years, and that was awesome – playing professional soccer in your hometown, it doesn’t really get any better than that. So it was huge, I owe the NASL and the Rowdies a lot. Being able to get those games, playing one or two games every week for eight months was huge for my experience and I really think that it helped me get to the point I am now, even if just in the fact that I feel comfortable in the net in a game situation. The game Saturday was probably my 60th career professional game including the NASL; it’s a lot different when you’re playing in your 60th compared to if that was my first start as a pro.
- I’m a huge Tampa Bay sports fan, so any chance I get I’m watching those teams in action. I have a Slingbox hooked up to the TV in my parents’ house, so I’ve been watching a lot of Rays baseball. I’m also spending a lot of time taking my dog to different trails and things like that. I’m trying to get a little bit of Utah life, the whole outdoors life, see what that’s like. Off the field, I just spend a lot of time with my wife. When the guys are getting together, I hang out with the guys, a lot of the single guys, so I’m sure my wife appreciates that. But I’ve just been trying to dive into Utah and getting used to how life is out here.
- I listen to all kinds of music; really it depends on my mood. But I am a country fan and I was 100 percent planning on going to go the Jason Aldean concert this weekend at Rio Tinto Stadium. I went to that concert actually twice in Tampa and had a great time. Obviously I’d rather be in New York with the team, though, and I’m happy I’ll be there this Saturday. But when I saw Jason Aldean coming and that we were away I was pretty excited about getting the chance to see him again. The plan is for my wife to go and take some videos for me, though.
It's one of the best features on MLSsoccer.com: Simon Borg takes a look at controversial refereeing decisions from the weekend and breaks them down, as only he can.
This week's edition is - unsurprisingly - heavy on decisions from Real Salt Lake's tough 2-1 loss to Sporting Kansas City on Saturday. Mr. Borg offers his opinion on the calls and RSL Head Coach Jason Kreis' assesment of them. Give it a watch above.
The Real Salt Lake-Arizona Academy U-16's won the U.S. Soccer Developmental Academy Championship on Saturday, defeating Dallas-based Solar Chelsea 4-2 to take home RSL-AZ's first title.
After the match, the players celebrated on the field by signing the "Believe" anthem. Video above.
What could possibly be better than Real Salt Lake's first ever win on Texas soil?
How about a behind the scenes video of that trip, directed and shot by the man with the best rat-tail in MLS, RSL midfielder Sebastian Velasquez.
Check out "Road Trip with Sebastian" above. You won't regret it.
Interesting video from MLSsoccer.com's Greg Lalas and Josh Whisenhunt on Real Salt Lake's Saturday home match against Sporting Kansas City.
Greg and Josh debate whether or not RSL-SKC is a MLS Cup Preview; Greg says it is, Josh picks Kansas City to make it, but bails on RSL. Greg's clearly the smarter of the pair.
Saturday's match will kickoff at 8:00 p.m. at Rio Tinto Stadium. Tickets are going fast; click here to get yours now.
U.S. manager Jurgen Klinsmann made four swaps in his CONCACAF Gold Cup squad on Wednesday, bringing in Sporting Kansas City defender Matt Besler, LA defender Omar Gonzalez, San Jose forward Alan Gordon and Seattle forward Eddie Johnson and sending home Houston's Corey Ashe, Philadelphia's Jack McInerney and ex-MLS players Herculez Gomez and Oguchi Onyewu.
Besler's call-up means the Sporting Kansas City defender will miss Saturday's RSL-SKC match at Rio Tinto Stadium. His absence will be a big one; the 2012 MLS Defender of the Year is Sporting's best defender, playing a crucial role in organizing SKC's back four, distributing well, posing an offensive threat on set pieces and locking down opposing strikers.
A very limited number of tickets are still available to Saturday's 8:00 p.m. match, which will be followed by a postgame fireworks display in celebration of Pioneer Day. Click here to get yours.
Real Salt Lake defender Tony Beltran talked with U.S. Soccer about his opportunity with the U.S. national team in the Gold Cup. It's a nice piece; check it out above.
Beltran and RSL teammates Kyle Beckerman, Nick Rimando and the U.S. return to action tomorrow night, when they'll take on Claret-and-Cobalt forward Alvaro Saborio and Costa Rica in Group C's deciding match.
Great story on Real Salt Lake midfielder Yordany Alvarez and his decision to defect from Cuba in 2008 from KSL's Dave McCann. It's a powerful piece; watch a tease above and check out the whole story here.
Cuba will be in action at Rio Tinto Stadium at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, when they'll take on RSL's Kyle Beckerman, Tony Beltran, Nick Rimando and the U.S. national team in a Gold Cup Group C game. Claret-and-Cobalt forward Alvaro Saborio will be in action at the RioT at 4:00, when he'll captain Costa Rica in a Group C match against Belize.
Alvarez and the rest of the Real Salt Lake squad are currently in Dallas, where they'll take on FCD in a battle of the top-two teams in the Western Conference at 7:00 p.m. Saturday night on CW30.
Real Salt Lake Captain Kyle Beckerman will take the field at Rio Tinto Stadium on Saturday for the U.S. in its Gold Cup Group C match against Cuba. The Claret-and-Cobalt captain tweeted out a bit of a call to arms to fans on Thursday, inquiring about a possible USA remix to RSL’s famous “Believe” anthem.
— Kyle Beckerman (@KyleBeckerman) July 11, 2013
Beckerman is one of four players who will be at the RioT for Gold Cup action on Saturday. Claret-and-Cobalt defender Tony Beltran and goalkeeper Nick Rimando will also suit up for the U.S., while forward Alvaro Saborio will captain Costa Rica in its match against Belize. U.S.-Cuba kicks off at 1:30 p.m. MT, while Costa Rica-Cuba will begin at 4:00 p.m. MT. Click here to get your tickets.