Blog

sam stejskal

03 June 1:53 pm

Real Salt Lake turned in a dominant performance on Saturday night, scoring three first half goals to down the San Jose Earthquakes 3-0 at Rio Tinto Stadium.

Here are a few interesting numbers from Saturday’s home win:

4-1-1

Saturday’s win gave Real Salt Lake a 4-1-1 record in its last six matches, tied for the top mark in the league over that span with the Montreal Impact and Seattle Sounders FC. RSL’s 13 league points since the start of May stands alone as best in MLS.

14-6

RSL has outscored its opponents 14-6 over its last six league matches. The team’s +8 goal differential is tied for the best in the league over that span with the New England Revolution, which has outscored its opponents 11-3 over its last six MLS games, including a 5-0 win over the LA Galaxy on Sunday. 

6

Real Salt Lake midfielder Javier Morales – who had a goal and an assist on Saturday night – now has six goals and six helpers in 12 career regular season games against the Quakes. That’s the most goals Morales has against any one team and the second-most assists he has against any one side. The Argentine playmaker has the most goals and most assists in RSL-San Jose games as any player on either side of the rivalry.  

3

Midfielder Ned Grabavoy’s 33rd minute goal on Saturday night gave him three regular season goals in his last three league games, matching his total output in the five MLS seasons from 2008-2012. Grabavoy – whose three goals so far this year equals his career high for goals in a season – scored two goals in RSL’s 4-1 win at Chivas USA on May 19.

300

Morales and Claret-and-Cobalt captain Kyle Beckerman both played 300 minutes last week – 90 each in RSL’s MLS games against Chicago and San Jose and 120 in the club’s Open Cup win over Atlanta. 

31 May 3:50 pm

Real Salt Lake is set to continue its home stand on Saturday night, when it will host the San Jose Earthquakes at 7:30 p.m. MT at Rio Tinto Stadium.

Here are a few interesting storylines ahead of Saturday’s game:

Javier Morales: The boss of San Jose

RSL midfielder Javier Morales has had a ton of success against San Jose, registering five goals and five assists in 11 career regular season games against the ‘Quakes.

Morales’ domination against San Jose isn’t in question. Whether or not he’ll get a chance to continue it on Saturday is. The 33-year-old Argentine playmaker went the full 90 last Saturday and played all 120 minutes in RSL’s 3-2 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup win over Atlanta on Tuesday and could be in line for a rest tomorrow.

Ned Grabavoy v. Frank Yallop

Saturday’s match will pit RSL midfielder Ned Grabavoy against his former coach and current San Jose manager Frank Yallop. Grabavoy played for Yallop in 2008 in San Jose before getting waived by the ‘Quakes on the eve of the 2009 season. RSL picked up Grabavoy the same day that San Jose dropped him, with the midfielder helping the Claret-and-Cobalt to its MLS Cup that same season.

Khari Stephenson faces off against former team

Real Salt Lake midfielder Khari Stephenson – who scored an insane goal in extra time on Tuesday night to give RSL the win – will be facing off against his former team on Saturday night. The Jamaican midfielder played for San Jose for two-and-a-half years before joining RSL this offseason, scoring eight goals and notching eight assists in 69 regular season appearances for the ‘Quakes.

RSL looking to make it two in a row over San Jose

Prior to last season – when RSL lost all three of its games against San Jose – the Claret-and-Cobalt hadn’t lost to San Jose in six-straight meetings and nine out of its last 10 games against San Jose.

RSL is looking to run its unbeaten streak over San Jose to two on Saturday; the Claret-and-Cobalt got a brace from forward Alvaro Saborio to beat San Jose 2-0 at Buck Shaw Stadium in the season opener on March 3. 

31 May 2:24 pm

RSL's Kyle Beckerman, Tony Beltran, Nick Rimando and Alvaro Saborio were all named on Friday to preliminary rosters for this summer's CONCACAF Gold Cup. 

Beckerman, Beltran and Rimando were all named to Jurgen Klinsman's U.S. roster while Saborio was named to Costa Rica's preliminary team. The preliminary rosters will be trimmed down from 35 to to 23 ahead of the tournament's start in July. Managers will be allowed to call up to four players from the preliminary roster that were not initally on the 23-man roster following the tournament's Group Stage. 

Both Saborio and Rimando will go on international duty prior to the Gold Cup, with Saborio leaving on Sunday to join Costa Rica for three World Cup Qualifiers and Rimando meeting up with the U.S. team on June 9 for its June 11 qualifier against Panama in Seattle and its July 18 match against Honduras here at Rio Tinto Stadium. Rimando is one of four 'keepers on the U.S.'s preliminary roster along with Houston's Tally Hall, D.C.'s Bill Hamid and Chicago's Sean Johnson. The RSL backstop figures to play a major role for the Stars-and-Stripes at the Gold Cup. 

Click here for the preliminary rosters for all 12 teams set to compete in the Gold Cup.

31 May 1:19 pm

San Jose goalkeeper Jon Busch joined On Frame on Thursday night to look ahead to Saturday's RSL-Earthquakes matchup, talk U.S. Open Cup and discuss San Jose's year thus far.

The veteran 'keeper said something particularly interesting about the Earthquakes "Goonies" mentality, telling Brian Dunseth and Trey Fitz-Gerald that he thinks the "Goonies" mantra needs "to be put to rest."   

Click here to listen to Busch's entire interview. Give the entire show a listen here

30 May 3:27 pm

Good times in Real Salt Lake's last game at San Jose: A Saborio brace, the birth of the Sabo-Plata love affair and - most importantly - a Claret-and-Cobalt win. 

Check out the full highlights from RSL's March 3 season opening win at Buck Shaw Stadium above. 

29 May 4:22 pm

In predicting the lineup, few would have ventured playing Kyle Beckerman and Yordany Alvarez alongside each other as a distinctly possible option. Ever the man with a plan, Jason Kreis opted for surprise over, well, no surprise.
 
Doubling down
 
The choice involved in playing Beckerman and Alvarez together was rendered particularly interesting by two things: Alvarez had played at the side of the diamond in the past, and it must be said, he hardly impressed during those moments; and Beckerman has been a rock in the deep-lying spot, having not played on the side since 2008 or so.
 
Surprisingly to some, it worked very well. Our captain has shown a more attacking bent this season than in the past, and that he works in the side of the diamond should come as no real surprise. He's a flexible, dynamic sort of player. The question then becomes one of coordination and interaction and less about positional sense. Unsurprisingly, both traded spots with regularity, and Alvarez was as often on the left side of the diamond as he was at the base.
 
That rotation is an extension of the rotation we've already seen this season in the midfield through all parts — and that's not excluding Javier Morales, who, at times, has popped up at the base of the diamond. Clearly, each player that spends time in a position brings a different set of characteristics. It brings to the side an ability to operate dynamically and switch focus on-the-fly — for example, when Beckerman is further up the pitch and Morales is deeper, an opportunity to send a long pass in emerges; when it's reversed, play flows in a decidedly different manner.
 
Permutations, not partnerships
 
It comes down not to partnerships — this wasn't about Yordany Alvarez and Kyle Beckerman together — but to permutations of the larger whole. The permutations allowed by including two nominally defensive midfielders allow for important tactical variety. While finishing was again an issue, the midfield controlled the game.
 
Interestingly, the permutations allowed for with two nominally attacking midfielders and two nominally defensive midfielders produced some tactical moments we've not seen this group produce. When Velasquez and Morales went wide, Beckerman and Alvarez played centrally and filled the distribution role; when Morales dropped deep to pick up possession, Velasquez hopped up top to fill the space thusly vacated. When Ned Grabavoy came into the match, he simply popped up everywhere to maintain possession, freeing other midfielders for creative movement.
 
regular contributor to RealSaltLake.com, Matt Montgomery runs the SB Nation blog RSL Soapbox. Follow Matt on Twitter @TheCrossbarRSL
29 May 3:52 pm

It took a little longer than usual, but Real Salt Lake managed to win its Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup third round match on Tuesday night, beating NASL side the Atlanta Silverbacks 3-2 after extra time at Rio Tinto Stadium. 

Here are a few interesting numbers from Tuesday's match:

5

Tuesday night’s game was Real Salt Lake’s fifth Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup match that went into extra time. The Claret-and-Cobalt played one Open Cup extra time game in 2005, another in 2006 and two in 2010.

9,644

9,644 hearty souls braved some nasty weather to attend Tuesday’s match, chanting and singing throughout the 120 minutes of rain, wind and soccer to help propel RSL to victory. Tickets to the June 12 Open Cup match against Charleston are on sale now and can be purchased at the Rio Tinto Stadium box office and over the phone at 801-727-2700. Tickets will be available for purchase online in the near future.

2008

Real Salt Lake Captain Kyle Beckerman played on the outside of the Claret-and-Cobalt’s midfield diamond on Tuesday night for the first time since the 2008 season, when he lined up in front of then-RSL captain Carey Talley. Yordany Alvarez played in Beckerman’s familiar holding midfield spot on Tuesday.

1

Real Salt Lake midfielder Khari Stephenson’s 101st minute goal – the eventual game-winner – was his first in a RSL uniform. Stephenson joined the Claret-and-Cobalt this offseason after spending the previous two-and-a-half years with San Jose.

June 12

Tuesday’s win advanced Real Salt Lake to the fourth round of the Open Cup. The Claret-and-Cobalt will host USL Pro side Charleston Battery in its fourth round match at Rio Tinto Stadium at 7:30 p.m. on June 12. The Battery beat the San Jose Earthquakes – which RSL will take on at Rio Tinto Stadium on Saturday night – 1-0 in South Carolina on Tuesday to advance to the fourth round.

9

The Battery has a long history of Open Cup success, finishing as runners-up to D.C. United in 2008, making the semifinals in 1999 and 2004 and reaching the quarters in 2007, 2009 and 2010. The Battery has beaten MLS teams nine times in its Open Cup history. 

27 May 10:55 am

Need some more background on the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup ahead of Real Salt Lake's third-round match against the Atlanta Silverbacks at 7:30 p.m. at Rio Tinto Stadium on Tuesday?

No worries, give the latest Soccer Smarts with Professor Leo a watch and bone up on all your Open Cup info.

26 May 8:32 am

Real Salt Lake couldn’t quite hold on against the Chicago Fire on Saturday night, taking the lead through forward Alvaro Saborio in the 78th minute before seeing Chicago forward Quincy Amarikwa equalize in the 84th to tie the Fire 1-1 at Rio Tinto Stadium.

Here are a few interesting numbers from Saturday’s draw:

209

Saturday night’s game was the 209th career regular season match that RSL captain Kyle Beckerman and RSL defender Nat Borchers have played together, moving them past former New England teammates Shalrie Joseph and Matt Reis and into first-place on the list of teammates that have played the most games together.

Borchers and Beckerman played together in Colorado from 2003-2005 before reuniting at Real Salt Lake when Borchers signed with the club ahead of the 2008 season. In all, Borchers – who has 236 regular season appearances – has only played 27 times without Beckerman in front of him.

Thanks to Peter Hirdt of the Elias Sports Bureau for the notes on Beckerman and Borchers.

30,033

RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando became just the fourth player in league history to reach 30,000 career regular season minutes played on Saturday night. The Claret-and-Cobalt ‘keeper – who went the full 90 on Saturday – has now played 30,033 regular season minutes, trailing only New York goalkeeper Kevin Hartman (37,620), former New England attacker and current Houston Assistant Coach Steve Ralston (33,142) and Vancouver goalie Joe Cannon (30,731) on the all-time minutes played list.

332

Rimando’s appearance on Saturday was the 332nd regular season appearance of his career. He is now tied for eighth-place in MLS history with former RSL midfielder and current Head Scout Andy Williams on the career appearances list. Rimando is third amongst goalkeepers in games played, trailing only Hartman (416) and Cannon (342).

68-32

RSL dominated the match on Saturday, holding a 68-32 percent possession advantage over the Fire. RSL attempted 574 passes to the Fire’s 246 – a difference of 328 – and hit on 87 percent of its passes compared to Chicago’s 74 percent completion rate.

20-12

Real Salt Lake outshot the Fire 20-12 on Saturday night, putting nine shots on goal to Chicago’s two.

8

Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson made eight saves – several of them spectacular – to limit RSL to just one goal on Saturday night.

24 May 9:59 am

As told to Sam Stejskal

  1. The way I spend my time has kind of evolved a lot in the last few months because I just bought a house here. I’ve been learning how to become a responsible homeowner and seeing how much work there is to do around the house. It’s been fun, it’s a lot of work, but it’s rewarding work because I’m putting it into something that I value, that I care about. It’s kind of funny remembering kicking the soccer ball around my parents’ house, kicking it against the wall, breaking things. I mean they were saints. That must have driven them crazy because any time someone drops something on the floor and doesn’t pick it up it drives me nuts.
  2. Outside of that the majority of the way I spend my time, my biggest hobby or pastime is reading. It’s kind of nice that what I do for a profession allows me a lot of time to read. It’s something I grew up doing, something I’ll always do.
  3. Picking out a favorite book is tough. I have favorite authors, but that changes too. A lot of times the last book I read is my favorite book. I just finished re-reading The Great Gatsby; I wanted to do that before the movie came out. Right before that was The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton and before that I read Lolita by Vladimir Nabakov.
  4. Two of my best friends are U.S. Olympic speed skating hopefuls Jonathan Garcia and Matt Hickson. They’re both long track skaters and this year is an Olympic qualifying year. Jonathan does the 1,000 and 1,500 meters and Matt does the 500, he’s a sprinter. The trials are at the end of December; Jonathan actually would’ve qualified with his times from last year had it been an Olympic qualifying year.
  5. Jonathan and I are actually roommates. It’s interesting because we’re both athletes, we’re both competing towards a common goal but it’s different because his sport is individual and mine is more tea-oriented. Obviously we get along famously, but I take a lot from his training regimen, dietary stuff that he’s really into, and try to incorporate that into my life. It’s great living with another athlete because we have that common ground of both wanting to take care of ourselves.
  6. I’ve kind of kept this under wraps, but I performed at Ballet West here in Salt Lake in December 2011. Robbie Russell and Nat Borchers were rehabbing from surgeries and they were rehabbing with Ballet West Principal Michael Bearden. The three of them became good friends and I was very close with Robbie and Nat and I are very close so I became friends with Michael through those two. The Ballet does a couple of performances of The Nutcracker and then they do a spoof of it and this particular year, the spoof was sports themed. He asked me if I wanted to be a part of it and I said sure. I thought it’d be fun, something outside of the box and something where I’d get to hang around with pretty girls, to be honest. I went and saw them perform and I was blown away by their athleticism, by their grace and everything so I wanted to see how they trained, hang out with them and get to know their sport. It actually ended up being a lot more than I thought I’d signed up for. We did a full-on three-minute routine that Michael choreographed and it was like a Spanish dance that incorporated me juggling a ball with two ballerinas around me. I have video, but I’ll never show it to anybody, though I think I actually showed Chris Schuler once… But yeah, it was tons of fun. I’ve never been so nervous, not even for soccer games.
  7. I was a history major initially in college. It was tough, I was so young – entering college I was just 17 – and so focused on soccer that I just didn’t really think about it, to be honest. I just didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life outside of soccer and so that kind of seemed like a safe avenue, a lot of the other guys on the team were doing it and I like history so at the time it seemed practical. But then after I got a little bit older and started to think about the future a little bit more, I just realized, why don’t I just stick with what I love to do outside of soccer? So I came back to English. It made sense. So I’m going to the University of Utah now to finish up my degree. I went on a bit of a hiatus when the National Team stuff came up this winter, but I’m hoping to get back in soon and finish up the year I have left.
  8. It was pretty exciting how quickly everything happened with the National Team this winter. The season ended and I didn’t expect it, but a few days before Christmas I found out that I’d be going to the biggest camp of my life. It was so much fun playing with the guys, just being in a situation with a lot of my peers from around the league. At a MLS-based camp everyone has the same goals, you’re there, you’re competing, you’re flying around trying to impress so it was really fun. The trainings were fantastic, it was really demanding and it was cool to be involved with the National Team, especially since Kyle Beckerman was there.It meant the world to me that he was in camp, he’s such a great guy and a great leader so that really helped. Then camp came and went and I thought I held my own and I was pleased with the effort I put in. When I got called into the last qualifying camp because there were a couple of injuries, to know that I was just outside and so close was a really good feeling. It’s great that I got called in for those, but I have to keep focusing on the things that got me there in the first place and hopefully I can get back.
  9. I kind of go back and forth on whether I want to stay in soccer after my playing career ends. It’s tough, that’s one thing that keeps me up at night and I’m sure it keeps a lot of soccer players up at night. On the one hand I love soccer so much, it’s such a huge part of my life and it would be very strange to just completely walk away from the game. But on the other hand I would love to be able to prove that I can be successful in something completely unrelated to soccer, something that I’ve done on my own and away from the sport. So we’ll see, I don’t know quite yet.
  10. This is my sixth year in Utah. It is different than where I’m from in L.A. It’s funny, when I first found out I was coming here a lot of people were sympathetic. They were like ‘I’m sorry you’re going to Utah, such a bummer.’ I remember the first day I got here, it was a rough winter and there was a ton of snow. I was walking to the grocery store, trying to get something to eat from the hotel I was staying at just thinking, ‘Where am I?’ But I learned quickly that this place is a hidden gem. It’s fantastic and I love it. It’s certainly a slower pace of life than L.A., but the pace suits me. The people here are just so nice and so welcoming and I really feel like the community has embraced my presence here and the team’s presence here. It’s just such a fun thing to be a part of and I am extremely happy in Salt Lake.