Real Salt Lake won’t have an easy start to the Jeff Cassar era, with the Claret-and-Cobalt scheduled to open its 2014 MLS regular season campaign with a brutal slate of matches.
RSL will play four of its first six matches on the road, traveling to LA for Saturday’s season opener, taking on San Jose at the always unfriendly Buck Shaw Stadium on March 15, playing at defending MLS Cup champion Sporting KC on April 6 and traveling across the country to take on Philadelphia on April 12.
RSL’s early season home games won’t be a cakewalk either, with the Claret-and-Cobalt hosting the Galaxy in the home opener on March 22, taking on Michael Bradley and revamped Toronto FC on March 29 and welcoming 2013 Western Conference Final opponent Portland Timbers to Rio Tinto Stadium on April 19.
The average 2013 point total for RSL’s first seven opponents comes out to 49.57 points, the seventh-highest mark in the league across the first seven matches. That average, however, is skewed somewhat by the inclusion of Toronto FC, which had just 29 points last year – third-fewest in the league – but is projected for far more than that in 2014 after adding Bradley, DP’s Jermain Defoe and Gilberto and Brazilian national team goalkeeper Julio Cesar this offseason.
In fact, only one of the six teams ahead of RSL in this category – Colorado, which clocks in at fourth in the league at 50.57 – also have Toronto on their schedule in their first seven games. None of the teams ahead of RSL have Chivas USA or D.C. United on tap for their first seven games; Chivas and D.C. were the only teams to finish below Toronto in the standings last year.
All of this means that we’ll need to keep our expectations in check for the start of the season. RSL has a very tough opening schedule, and it’ll be incredibly difficult to get off to a flying start. A tough beginning shouldn’t be much cause for concern however – RSL was 2-3-2 after seven games in 2013, and managed to put in a decent season.
In honor of Real Salt Lake opening its 10th season this Saturday at LA, The Salt Lake Tribune on Monday opened voting on three polls concerning RSL history. Fans can vote on RSL’s all-time starting XI, rank the team’s top-10 moments and rank the top-10 goals in franchise history.
Click here to vote in the polls. The Tribune will post the results in an online presentation ahead of the Claret-and-Cobalt’s March 22 home opener against the Galaxy.
Exciting news, Real Salt Lake fans: RSL GM Garth Lagerwey will be holding a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” on /r/MLS next Thursday at 1 p.m. MT, ahead of the Claret-and-Cobalt's MLS season opener at LA next Saturday.
Those participating in the AMA will be able to ask Garth any question they’d like in real time. He’ll answer as many as he can get to. Make sure that someone asks Garth about the above hairstyle. Thing’s wilder than anything Sebastian Velasquez has ever even dreamed of doing.
In the latest sign that the season is just around the corner, the Professional Referees Organization (PRO) released on Tuesday the referee assignments for MLS’s opening weekend.
Real Salt Lake drew Silviu Petrescu for its March 8 opener at LA. Petrescu is an experienced official who was named the 2012 MLS Referee of the Year. He was the man in the middle for several RSL games in 2013, most notably officiating RSL’s 4-3 loss at New York on July 27. Petrescu was very quick to the whistle in that match, calling an astounding 46 total fouls – including a season-high 28 on RSL – and showing seven yellow cards.
Rounding out Petrescu’s March 8 crew are linesmen Daniel Belleau and Phil Briere and fourth official Mathieu Bourdeau.
TUCSON – After taking the day off on Sunday, Real Salt Lake got back to work on Monday, hitting the training fields for another practice session ahead of Wednesday’s Desert Diamond Cup match against FC Tucson.
Monday’s training officially marked the start of the final week of preseason training for the Claret-and-Cobalt, which will return to Utah on Sunday and train in Sandy next week ahead of the March 8 opener at LA. RSL Head Coach Jeff Cassar is looking for a few things from the last week of preseason camp, with full match fitness topping the list.
No RSL player has gone 90 minutes yet in the Desert Diamond Cup, with Cassar playing the starters 60 minutes and making mass substitutions at the hour mark in both of the first two DDC games. Expect that to change in the final two games in Tucson.
“In these last two games we’re looking to get closer to 90 minutes for everybody in each game,” Cassar said. “It’s time to start to gear up towards what our lineup will look like against LA.”
RSL will return to action on Wednesday, when the team will take on USL-Premier Development League side FC Tucson at 6:00 p.m. MT in the final group game of the Desert Diamond Cup. Wednesday’s game will be streamed live here on RealSaltLake.com and MLSsoccer.com.
TUCSON – Real Salt Lake on Friday returned to the training field for the first time since Wednesday’s scoreless draw against New England, putting in a two hour training session ahead of Saturday’s FC Tucson Desert Diamond Cup match against the Colorado Rapids.
Saturday’s match will be streamed live here on RealSaltLake.com, under the “Match Streams” page in Preseason Central. It will be the first stream of the preseason for the Claret-and-Cobalt, which has a 0-1-3 record so far this preseason.
RSL enters Saturday’s match in a four-way tie for second in the DDC standings with one point. Colorado is in sixth – and last – place in the tournament after losing their opener 2-1 against Chicago on Wednesday. RSL will finish Desert Diamond Cup group play next Wednesday, when they’ll take on USL-Premier Development League side FC Tucson at 6:00 p.m. MT.
The Desert Diamond Cup will conclude next Saturday, with the Championship and Consolation matches. The DDC round-robin stage winner will take on Mexican side Chivas de Guadalajara in the tournament final at 6:00 p.m. MT on Saturday, while the second- and third-place and the fourth- and fifth-place MLS teams will face off earlier in the day.
CASA GRANDE, Ariz. – Real Salt Lake won the Generation Adidas Cup Central Region on Monday, with the Claret-and-Cobalt U-17’s defeating the Houston Dynamo U-17’s 4-1 at Grande Sports World in the final match of group play to qualify for the GA Cup’s final stage.
Monday’s win advanced the RSL U-17’s to the final stage of the GA Cup, which will take place in April. The RSL U-17’s will be pitted against two other MLS U-17 teams and a group of international teams in the final stage of the GA Cup.
RSL posted a 4-1-0 record in five GA Cup Central Region group stage matches, finishing atop the group that also featured U-17 squads from the Chicago Fire, Colorado Rapids, FC Dallas, Houston Dynamo and Sporting Kansas City. The Claret-and-Cobalt outscored its opposition 21-7 in the group stage.
RSL got goals from four different players in the win over Houston on Monday. The Claret-and-Cobalt jumped out to an impressive start, with Josh Doughty tapping in a Sebastian Saucedo cross in the 11th minute to give RSL the lead.
RSL doubled their lead in the 50th minute, when Saucedo curled in a low free kick that hit the post and bounced in for his fourth goal in three matches. Doughty notched his fourth assist in three matches when he played to Kris “Haiti” Fourcand in the 72nd-minute. Fourcand then shifted to his right, dribbled into the box and scored RSL’s third goal.
RSL’s backline of: Justen Glad, Aaron Herrera, Miles Stray and Gavino Carranza along with central midfielder Danny Acosta held the Dynamo attack to a few shots and recorded their first shutout in GA Cup play.
Real Salt Lake defender Nat Borchers kept busy over the weekend, stopping by Rio Tinto Stadium on Saturday to answer a few questions at RSL's Open House before dropping by the ABC 4 studios on Sunday for an interview with Wesley Ruff on Real Sports Live.
Nat and Wes put a bow on the 2013 RSL season and looked forward to 2014, with Nat discussing new Claret-and-Cobalt boss Jeff Cassar and the team's preseason camp. Check out the video above.
Borchers wasn't the only RSL player on Real Sports Live on Sunday night, as fellow defender Chris Wingert appeared on the show to raise awareness for a great cause. We'll have more on Wingert's appearance later on.
RSL is traveling to Tucson today for the upcoming FC Tucson Desert Diamond Cup. The Claret-and-Cobalt will kickoff the Desert Diamond Cup on Wednesday, taking on the New England Revolution at 6:00 p.m. MT.
You may or may not know that RSL Captain Kyle Beckerman has the record for most fouls committed in MLS history. So it goes when you're a defensive midfielder who's been in the league going on 15 years.
Turns out, most of Beckerman's MLS colleagues didn't know that KB5 holds that record, either. MLSsoccer.com asked quite a few of them about it, with only four - Seattle Head Coach Sigi Schmid, Kansas City's Matt Besler, D.C.'s Bill Hamid and New England's Andrew Farrell - able to correctly identify Captain Kyle.
Two of the league's biggest villains were among the more popular guesses, with SKC's Aurelien Collin and San Jose's Steven Lenhart getting their names dropped a few times.
Our favorite moment from the video? Vancouver Captain Jay DeMerit's "a foul for every dread" comment.
MLSsoccer.com’s Dan Itel wrote up a nice piece on Tuesday on U.S. Men’s National Team Head Coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s comments on RSL midfielder Luis Gil and fellow 20-year-old national teamer, Seattle Sounders FC defender Deandre Yedlin.
Klinsmann had plenty of complimentary things to say about Gil and Yedlin, both of whom participated in the USMNT’s January camp and registered their first senior caps as substitutes in Saturday’s 2-0 friendly win over Korea Republic at StubHub Center.
Klinsmann’s main message? While they’re promising prospects, both Gil and Yedlin still have plenty of work to do to become mainstays with the senior national team.
“I think both youngsters … did well in this first introduction to the senior national team,” Klinsmann said. “That’s why we gave them also their first cap, their first couple of minutes on the field with the so-called older guys. They have a lot of talent, there’s no doubt about it.”
“It’s really important that they stay with their feet on the ground, stay modest,” he continued. “Yes, be proud of that moment, it’s a special moment when you play your first cap, but this is hopefully just the beginning of a very, very good career.”
Klinsmann also pushed for them to take more responsibility with their club teams, a notion Gil discussed with reporters at RSL’s Media Day on Tuesday.
“We need them now to push the envelope with their MLS teams,” he said. “We need them to understand that there’s more responsibility on their shoulders as a senior national team player.”
We’ll have more from Gil on his time with the USMNT and his first cap later on Wednesday. Stay tuned.