It was interesting to watch RSL wheel and deal this offseason – GM Garth Lagerwey and Head Coach Jason Kreis jettisoned a few high-priced players and in return tried to create competition at every position.
By all indications they did a very good job at building that depth, to the point that RSL color commentator Brian Dunseth called the Claret-and-Cobalt the deepest team in MLS. Thanks to injuries and family matters, RSL’s bench has been tested plenty already this season, and while the results haven't been perfect, they haven't been bad either. The depth will get its biggest test of the young season on Saturday at Dallas, thanks to national team call-ups hitting RSL hard as World Cup qualifying hits full stride this weekend.
Tony Beltran, Nick Rimando, and Kyle Beckerman have been called on by Jurgen Klinsmann to represent the Stars-and-Stripes. They'll be facing off on Friday against their RSL teammate and Costa Rican international Alvaro Saborio. Finally, Abdoulie Mansally is making the long trip back to Africa to join his native Gambia.
No other MLS team was hit as hard as RSL, and when combined with the current spate of injuries, RSL could be down as many as 11 players going to Dallas. So while national team call-ups are a great reward and a source of pride to players, the timing is going to leave their club in a bit of a lurch.
These call-ups are peppered around the field and cause concern in almost every positional group, but RSL's depth should help mitigate some of the risks. RSL probably has the best backup goalkeeper in the league with Josh Saunders; Nat Borchers played in the last reserve match - and looked good, I might add - and if he can start it will help Claret-and-Cobalt cover for Tony Beltran; Lovel Palmer has done well at outside back; and Yordany Alvarez is a more than capable replacement for Beckerman.
The biggest question is who is going to fill in for Saborio. Rookie forward Devon Sandoval is physically able to stand in for him, and the pairing of Findley and Plata is a possibility, but so far nobody has been able to step up and take the scoring load from Sabo. Someone is going to have to do it if RSL hopes to get its first win in Texas.
Here's my guess at RSL's starting lineup for Saturday based on the assumptions I've made above (L to R):
Saunders; Palmer, Borchers, Watson-Siriboe, Schuler; Alvarez; Gil, Grabavoy; Velasquez; Findley, Plata
Bench: Attinella, Maund, Martinez, Grossman, Stertzer, Sandoval, Garcia
The injuries and call-ups haven't created an ideal situation for RSL by any means, but considering the circumstances, that's not a bad lineup. And that's exactly what Kreis and Lagerwey were after during those long winter months.
A former RSL beat reporter for multiple outlets, Jeremy Horton is a regular contributor to RealSaltLake.com and helps cover the team for ESPN 700 AM.
According to a tweet from MLSsoccer.com Chicago reporter Anthony Zilis, U.S. Men's National Team manager Jurgen Klinsmann indicated on Wednesday at a Gold Cup press conference in Chicago that Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando will back-up Aston Villa's Brad Guzan for the U.S. while first-choice 'keeper Tim Howard is out injured.
Howard will miss the U.S.'s World Cup Qualifiers on March 22 against Costa Rica and on March 26 at Mexico due to a back injury.
Klinnsmann: (paraphrased) Nice of Friedel to offer, but we're fine with Guzan, then Rimando as backup. #usmnt
— Anthony Zilis (@adzilis) March 13, 2013
— Anthony Zilis (@adzilis) March 13, 2013
Real Salt Lake midfielder Luis Gil notched an assist in the U.S. Under-20 national team's 1-0 win over Costa Rica in the Group Stage of the CONCACAF U-20 Championship on Friday night.
Gil delivered the corner kick that L.A. Galaxy attacker Jose Villarreal nodded home in the 63rd minute. Friday night's win moved the U.S. to 2-0-0 in the Group Stage, giving the Stars-and-Stripes the Group A title.
The U.S. will now face Group B runners-up Canada in the CONCACAF U-20 Championship Quarterfinals on Feb. 26. The winner of that match will advance to this summer's 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Turkey.
Luis Gil and the U.S. Under-20 national team got some good news on Wednesday night, when Costa Rica beat Haiti in Group A action at the CONCACAF U-20 Championship to book the U.S.’s passage into the Quarterfinals.
The U.S. now sits in first-place in Group A, ahead of second-place Costa Rica by virtue of the goals scored tiebreaker. The U.S. and Costa Rica will both advance out of Group A, as Haiti concluded its Group Stage schedule with zero points and cannot finish as one of the top two teams in the group.
Gil and the U.S. beat Haiti 2-1 on Monday night, with Gil scoring the opener on a penalty kick and starting the play that led to the U.S.'s second goal.
The U.S. will play Costa Rica on Friday with the Group A title on the line. The Stars-and-Stripes need just a tie against Los Ticos to win the group. The Group A winner will play either Canada or Nicaragua in the Quarterfinals, while the Group A runner-up will take on Cuba in the Quarters.
The four teams that advance out of the CONCACAF U-20 Championship Quarterfinals and into the tournament Semifinals will qualify for this summer’s FIFA U-20 World Cup in Turkey.
Real Salt Lake midfielder Luis Gil and the U.S. Under-20 national team will kick off the CONCACAF U-20 Championship with a Group A match against Haiti on Monday. U.S. Soccer produced a solid video preview of the tournament featuring Gil and U-20 Head Coach Tab Ramos.
Check out the video above and make sure to tune in to Fox Soccer Channel at 4:30 p.m. MT to see Gil and the U-20's take on Haiti.
Real Salt Lake forward Alvaro Saborio had a big night for Costa Rica on Wednesday, scoring a goal and adding an assist in Los Ticos' 2-2 draw at Panama.
Sabo scored in the 38th minute of the match, cutting Costa Rica's deficit to 2-1 with a powerful header from 12 yards out. Saborio is expected to join to the Claret-and-Cobalt for the first time this preseason on Monday in Tucson ahead of the FC Tucson Desert Diamond Cup.
IRVINE, Calif. – Plenty of Real Salt Lake players’ eyes were glued to the television on Wednesday afternoon for the U.S.’s 2-1 World Cup qualifying defeat at Honduras.
While that game didn’t go as most of the team would’ve liked, it’s far from the only international match that RSL will be watching on Wednesday. Claret-and-Cobalt forward Alvaro Saborio will be in action for Costa Rica in its Hexagonal match at Panama on Wednesday night (7:00 p.m. MT, beIN Sport), with several RSL staffers and players planning to head to a local establishment to watch Sabo in action for Los Ticos.
Three RSL players who won’t be watching Saborio play for Costa Rica on Wednesday are goalkeeper Lalo Fernandez and defenders Carlos Salcedo and Lovel Palmer. They’ll be locked in to the Mexico-Jamaica match (7:00 p.m. MT, ESPN2), with Jamaican international Palmer hoping that his Reggae Boyz can take down Fernandez’s and Salcedo’s El Tri at Estadio Azteca. There’s been quite a bit of banter about the match between Fernandez and Palmer, with the two betting dinner on the outcome. Stakes are steaks.
The USMNT will play its first match of 2013 on Tuesday night, when it will take on Canada at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston (7 p.m. MT, ESPN2).
Real Salt Lake’s Kyle Beckerman and Tony Beltran are both on the U.S. roster for the match, and several outlets are predicting that both Claret-and-Cobalt players will be in manager Jurgen Klinsmann’s starting lineup.
Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl and Pro Soccer Talk’s Steve Davis both have Beckerman and Beltran pegged for the First XI. Beckerman in particular is getting a lot of press, with Fox Soccer’s Kyle McCarthy and American Soccer Now’s Josh Deaver both writing extensively about how the Claret-and-Cobalt captain has taken a leadership role in the U.S. camp.
While Beckerman is getting more publicity, Tuesday’s game is undeniably bigger for Beltran. Unlike Beckerman, who has 23 senior national team caps, Beltran has never appeared for the USMNT and will be looking for his first cap on Tuesday. A good performance against Canada could also net Beltran a spot on the roster for the U.S. Hexagonal opener at Honduras on Feb. 6, a roster that Beckerman is likely to make regardless of how he performs in Houston.
Beckerman and Beltran are both expected to return to RSL for the team’s third and final preseason leg at the FC Tucson Desert Diamond Cup from Feb. 11-24.
Make sure you watch both Kyle and Tony in action on Tuesday night.
U.S. Soccer announced on Tuesday that San Jose defender Steven Beitashour and Colorado forward Edson Buddle have both left Jurgen Klinsmann's January camp due to injury.
While unfortunate, Beitashour's departure opens the door wider for RSL defender Tony Beltran to pick up his first U.S. senior cap in the Americans' Jan. 29 friendly against Canada at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston. Beltran, New York defender Connor Lade and Hertha Berlin youngster Alfredo Morales are now the only three right backs in Klinsmann's camp. Beltran is by far the most experienced of the three, with his 110 professional regular season appearances dwarfing Lade's 26 and Morales's 11.
Of course, Beltran isn't the only RSL player currently in U.S. camp. Captain Kyle Beckerman is also training with the national team in Carson, Calif. He's been a favorite of Klinsmann's since the German took over in August 2011, regularly appearing for Klinsmann in friendlies and World Cup Qualifiers alike.
Let's hope Beltran and Beckerman get the start next Tuesday against Canada. They've both certainly earned it with their stellar play on the field and hard work off of it.
Both players are expected to return to RSL for the Claret-and-Cobalt's third and final preseason leg from Feb. 11-24 at the FC Tucson Desert Diamond Cup in Tucson, Ariz.
A fun bit of news came out of Costa Rica on Thursday, when it was announced that Real Salt Lake star striker Alvaro Saborio will captain Costa Rica during this month's Copa UNCAF tournament.
is the new captain of the Costa Rican national team.
Saborio, who is currently with the Ticos as they prepare for the Copa UNCAF and for their Feb. 6 Hexagonal opener at Panama, tweeted about the honor, writing (loose translation here, bear with me) that "it's an honor to be captain of la Seleccion" and that he'd do "everything for the good of la Sele."
Muchas gracias a todos, es todo un honor ser capitan de la Seleccion, voy a dar todo como siempre para el bien de la sele...
— Alvaro saborio (@al_saborio) January 17, 2013
MLS's third-leading scorer last season, Saborio will re-join Real Salt Lake after Costa Rica's Feb. 6 game at Panama, linking up with RSL in Tucson, Ariz. for the team's third and final leg of the preseason.
The club's biggest congrats go out to Sabo for the honor. Can't wait until he's back in the Claret-and-Cobalt.