Blog

sam stejskal

11 April 10:09 am

RSL reserve goalkeeper Lalo Fernandez has yet to see the field for the first-team, but he's got quite the story off of it. Read about the 20-year-old Mexican-American 'keeper below. 
 
As told to Sam Stejskal:
  1. My Dad was a professional goalkeeper in Mexico so I moved around a lot growing up. I was born in Guadalajara, Mexico and moved to Morelia, Mexico City and Veracruz, really all over the place. When my Dad retired from playing soccer my family moved to El Paso, Texas, his hometown. I was there until I was 15, when I went to Chivas Guadalajara for two years. After that I went to the RSL Academy in Casa Grande, Ariz. for a year and then I went off to Uruguay for six months.
     
  2. I played for a club called Peñarol in Uruguay. I loved it down there. The Uruguayan people are incredible, they’re really great people and Peñarol is a big team so the atmosphere was great.
     
  3. After six months in Uruguay I came back to Real Salt Lake. I had been in the academy and I knew the coaches and the team really well already. I really felt comfortable when they brought me in for preseason and I always wanted to be here. It’s nice that I’m closer to my family now and it’s great to be on a team that’s always fighting for MLS Cup.
     
  4. Even though my Dad was a professional, my parents never pressured me to play soccer. They put me in a bunch of different sports, they put me in karate, they put me in track they put me in a lot of stuff that they thought I would like before they put me in soccer. I always wanted to play, though. I started out being a forward and ended up being a goalie because one of my teammates couldn’t go to one game and I filled in for him. I had the idea because my Dad would always talk to me about goalie and I ended up doing well. I stuck with it and then my Dad started coaching me and that really helped me a lot.
     
  5. I feel like I’m developing pretty well as a player. Last year was tough; I felt like I was progressing until I broke my wrist in July. Even though that injury kept me from playing goalie, it did help with my foot skills and my strength and fitness. This year I feel a lot stronger and a lot more confident. I feel the group has accepted us young guys more and they’ve given us confidence to show our talents, to show our skills and I really feel like I’m playing better.
     
  6. I think we have a really unique situation here with our goalies. You’ve got Nick [Rimando] as the starter, he’s a national team player, he’s a leader in our locker room and I learn a lot from him. He talks to me about angles and a bunch of simple stuff that might not seem like that big of a deal, but when you put it into practice it really does make a big difference. Then on the other hand you have Josh [Saunders]. He won the last two MLS Cups for L.A. and he’s different than Nick but he’s really good too. I try to take the best things from both of their games. I’m also always talking with Jeff [Attinella] and working with him after training, too. With help from all three of those guys and of course from [RSL Goalkeeper Coach] Jeff Cassar, I think I’ve really started to develop more and more.
     
  7. I’m roommates and good friends with [RSL defender] Carlos Salcedo. He and I knew each other from Guadalajara, he’s from there as well and we played together at Chivas. He’s a year younger than me and he’d play in the third division and sometimes I would go down there to get some games and he would be there and we’d always talk. Him being here is a big help for me because I have someone to relate to, someone who knows my culture and really understands where I come from.
     
  8. I’m also close with a number of other guys on the team like Enzo [Martinez], Seba [Velasquez], David [Viana] and now [Joao] Plata and Olmes [Garcia]. Our relationship here in the locker room and outside the locker room is great; we hang out all the time. Enzo is married and we’re close with his wife. We go to their house all the time and we were there when Enzo’s daughter was born last year. That was a great experience; those are things you will never forget. Now we’re all like a family. They’re all great people and that really helps us all, it makes the group a lot stronger when we’re all comfortable and hopefully we can grow together.
     
  9. I grew up with [No. 1 pick in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft and Vancouver forward] Omar Salgado. We played on the same club teams growing up in El Paso and he came to Chivas a few months after I started there. We Skyped earlier this week and I’m excited to hopefully see him this weekend when we play Vancouver. Hopefully we get to play each other in the Reserve Game on Sunday – that’d be really awesome. Growing up we always used to compete against each other, I’d always trash talk him, tell him he was my son because I’m the type of goalie that likes to talk to the forwards to try and get in their minds. He made a big step coming from Guadalajara to MLS and that was part of the reason why I wanted to come here. I saw how much he was progressing here and he was getting a lot better, getting more opportunities and I felt like coming to Salt Lake would help me like going to Vancouver helped him.
     
  10. One thing a lot of people don’t know about me is that I’ve played for youth national teams for both Mexico and the U.S. With Mexico I went through the whole qualifying process for the [2009] U-17 World Cup in Nigeria. In the end I didn’t get the call-up to the final team, and that was a little bit disappointing, but that opened up other doors. That’s when the U.S. came to me with a chance to play for the U-20’s in 2010 and I took the opportunity, took a lot of pride in it and it was an awesome experience.
08 April 11:56 am

Real Salt Lake lost 1-0 at Rocky Mountain Cup Presented by Mark Miller Subaru rivals the Colorado Rapids on Saturday night.

Here are a few interesting numbers from the match:

4-1

Real Salt Lake now trails Colorado 4-1 in the 2013 Rocky Mountain Cup point standings. RSL must win the one remaining RMC match on Aug. 3 at Colorado to retain the Cup for a seventh-consecutive year.

12-for-13

RSL forward Alvaro Saborio is now 12-for-13 on penalty kicks in his RSL career. Saborio had a penalty kick stopped by Rapids goalkeeper Clint Irwin in the 10th minute on Saturday.

0-4-3

Real Salt Lake is 0-4-3 in its last seven regular season matches at Colorado. The Utah side hasn’t won at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park since Oct. 20, 2007.

405

By playing 45 minutes on Saturday, Claret-and-Cobalt midfielder Sebastian Velasquez moved to 405 MLS minutes played this season, surpassing the 403 league minutes he played during his rookie season of 2012.

16,055

Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando’s 90 minutes on Saturday moved him past the 16,000 minute mark in his Claret-and-Cobalt career. Rimando is RSL’s all-time leader in minutes played, more than 2,500 minutes ahead of second-place Kyle Beckerman.

70

RSL defender Chris Wingert started and played 70 minutes for the RSL Reserves in its 0-0 draw against the Colorado Reserves on Saturday night. It was Wingert’s second time on the field in 2013 – he played 30 minutes off the bench in RSL’s exhibition win over BYU last Monday – after fracturing bones in his right foot during offseason training in December. 

05 April 10:25 am

The Rocky Mountain Cup: RSL tested, C.J. Brown approved. 

The Claret-and-Cobalt take on the Rapids at Dick's Sporting Goods Park at 5:30 p.m. MT on Saturday. Watch live on NBC Sports Network. 

03 April 3:37 pm

Hey Rapids,

Not sure what you're talking about here, but we don't think winning six-straight Rocky Mountain Cups is creepy. 

#DontCreep,

-Real Salt Lake

03 April 11:25 am

MLSsoccer.com took a closer look on Wednesday morning at RSL's spectacular set play goal against Seattle, with Jason Saghini breaking down Luis Gil's first half strike in the site's "Anatomy of a Goal" series. 

Saghini does a great job of breaking down the play, which RSL midfielder Javier Morales - who wasn't even in the game for the goal - drew up in practice last week. 

01 April 11:05 am

Real Salt Lake took down Seattle 2-1 on Saturday, scoring two goals from set pieces and looking rather like the well-oiled machine that seemed absent through most of 2012. It's hard not to focus on those two goals, because they're indicative of something the squad's been missing for some time.

Set pieces

It's just as Alexi Lalas says: "Set pieces." I'm sure there's more to that statement, and it probably relates to what we saw on Saturday. Luis Gil scored from a corner, and Robbie Findley scored from a throw-in. The nature of their goals being as different as they were — one a well-planned attack that caught a defense ball-watching, the other a quick finish that came from awareness up front — it's easy to see how important set piece planning can be.

If there's been a major criticism of Real Salt Lake in attack this year — and perhaps longer than that — it's been a lack of threat from set pieces. Saturday changed that, but it came from a shift in mentality. The first goal saw Tony Beltran thrust a ball into the mix from a throw-in, and the strength of Devon Sandoval kept Seattle from making an easy clearance. Robbie Findley's awareness paid dividends, and not a moment too soon, as he was taken off injured hardly minutes later.

For the second goal, rather than sending a corner straight into the center of the Seattle box, where they were well covered, a touchline-searing ball from Velasquez to Grabavoy set up Luis Gil for a strong header to the far post. Too often, defenses can crowd Real Salt Lake in the middle of the box, but creative play and danger from multiple areas will give defenses pause for thought.

It's perhaps no surprise that Jason Kreis confirmed that more time was spent on set pieces  than in the past. When it becomes less about power and strength (particularly with the departure of Jamison Olave) and more about finesse, Real Salt Lake, with its array of short midfielders, will be a natural benefactor.

Narrow defending

It's difficult to say what the proper tactical approach would have been in the second half, but with Seattle putting RSL on the back foot for the first 15 minutes of the second half, Abdoulie Mansally and Tony Beltran tucked in to cover runs from attacking midfielders. On the conceded goal scored by Brad Evans, the defense had become so narrow as to allow Seattle right back DeAndre Yedlin all the time in the world to cross, and as such, a goal was scored.

The return of Javier Morales and the rise of Sebastian Velasquez

Javier Morales looked closer to the Javi of bygone days than he has in some time. Claims that he's a slow, old player are overblown: The breakaway, on which he should have been awarded a penalty kick after being hauled down by Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, showed that.

Whether it was planned that Luis Gil would come off for Morales or not, there was something incredible about seeing the playmaker-in-chief lining up with the talented Sebastian Velasquez for 30 minutes. Whether that continues depends on how Luis Gil fares in training sessions, but it seems Kreis has every reason to be impressed with the rat-tailed kid. He's been one of RSL's best players in the early days of the season, and his hard work is a sure factor in that.

A regular contributor to RealSaltLake.com, Matt Montgomery runs SB Nation blog RSL Soapbox. Follow Matt on Twitter @TheCrossbarRSL

01 April 9:53 am

Real Salt Lake picked up its first home win of the season on Saturday night, beating Western Conference rival Seattle Sounders FC 2-1 in front of a sold-out crowd at Rio Tinto Stadium.

Here are a few interesting numbers from the match:

20,359

20,359 RSL fans packed a sold-out Rio Tinto Stadium to the rafters on Saturday night. Saturday’s game was RSL’s eighth-straight non-playoff sell-out and seventh-straight MLS regular season sell-out.

882

The number of days between RSL goals for forward Robbie Findley, who opened the scoring for the Claret-and-Cobalt in the eighth minute on Saturday night. Findley’s last RSL goal came on Nov. 6, 2010 in the Western Conference Semifinals second leg against FC Dallas. The 27-year-old speedster left RSL after that match, spending 2011 and 2012 with English Championship side Nottingham Forest before rejoining RSL this offseason.  

Findley’s last regular season goal for RSL came 973 days ago on Aug. 7, 2010 at Kansas City.

408

Findley’s goal broke Real Salt Lake’s 408-minute scoreless streak against Seattle. The Claret-and-Cobalt hadn’t scored in its previous four matches against Sounders FC, last scoring against the Cascadia club in the 50th minute of its 1-0 win at Seattle on May 12 of last year.

62

RSL midfielder Javier Morales entered Saturday’s match in the 62nd minute to make his 2013 season debut. Morales – who entered the game to a raucous standing ovation from the RSL faithful – had missed the Claret-and-Cobalt’s first four matches while recovering from preseason knee surgery.

25-8

Real Salt Lake outshot Seattle 25-8 on Saturday night. The total was RSL’s highest mark of the season and vaulted the Claret-and-Cobalt from seventh in the league in total shots to third. 

28 March 3:24 pm

Pumped yet for Saturday's grudge match between Real Salt Lake and Seattle Sounders FC?

You will be once you watch this great video from RSL videographer Nick Lamping, a.k.a. the greatest hype man since Puff Daddy. 

27 March 9:21 pm

Real Salt Lake announced late on Tuesday night that it will host Brigham Young University in a friendly match at Rio Tinto Stadium on Monday, April 1. 

Claret-and-Cobalt Head Coach Jason Kreis talked on Wednesday about Monday's match, which will kickoff at 6:30 p.m. MT. 

"We have annually enjoyed our games throughout the years with BYU, and are very excited to finally hold this fantastic Utah soccer event at our Rio Tinto Stadium home," Kreis said. "RSL looks forward to a competitive game against our state's best PDL side, and we look forward to welcoming fans from all over Utah for this unique event." 

RSL will likely field a reserve lineup for the match, which will come just two days after Saturday's home match against Western Conference rival Seattle Sounders FC. Monday's game will be the second time in 2013 that the Claret-and-Cobalt's lesser-known players will play under the bright lights of Rio Tinto Stadium -- the RSL Reserves beat the Colorado Reserves 2-1 in Reserve League play at the RioT on March 16. 

Tickets to Monday's match are just $5 for RSL Season Ticket Holders and $10 for the general public. Be sure to give RSL your full support - get your tickets now

26 March 11:28 am

Real Salt Lake offseason acquisition Olmes Garcia made his Claret-and-Cobalt debut on Saturday night, coming on with the score 1-0 in the 77th minute of RSL's 2-0 loss at FC Dallas. 

The 20-year-old Colombian had an exciting debut, nearly equalizing with the first touch of his MLS career. Video of the chance - a diving header that clanged off the near post - is above.