Real Salt Lake’s Jordan Allen and Benji Lopez began their stint with the U.S. Under-20 national team on the right foot on Sunday, with Allen starting and registering two assists in the U.S.’s 3-2 Dallas Cup win over Argentine side River Plate. Lopez did not feature for the U.S.
Allen helped the U.S. get off to a great start in the 15th minute, playing a perfect pass to the penalty spot to forward Ben Spencer, who converted the chance to give the Americans a 1-0 lead. River Plate hit back with two first half goals to take a 2-1 lead into the break, but Allen helped pull the U.S. even with a 74th minute assist to Rubio Rubin to make it 2-2. The U.S. scored the winner in the 78th minute, when Spencer scored from the penalty spot to make it 3-2.
The U.S. will continue Dallas Cup play on Monday, when it will take on German club Eintracht Frankfurt at 3:00 p.m. MT.
Real Salt Lake will look to extend its unbeaten start to the season on Saturday, when it will take on Philadelphia Union at 2:00 p.m. MT on ABC 4.
Here are a few storylines to watch ahead of Saturday’s contest:
Real Salt Lake undefeated against Philadelphia Union
Real Salt Lake and Philadelphia Union have met a total of six times in Major League Soccer history, with the Claret-and-Cobalt never losing to its Eastern Conference foe. RSL has a 2-0-4 record against the Union, with the two sides tying their last two league meetings. Although RSL is undefeated against the Union, the Claret-and-Cobalt have yet to win at PPL Park, tying every match played there. Both of Real Salt Lake’s wins over Philly came at home, with RSL defeating Philadelphia 3-0 in the club’s first ever meeting on May 8, 2010 at Rio Tinto Stadium and claiming a 2-1 win on Sept. 3, 2011 at the RioT.
Attinella likely to fill in for Rimando for second-straight match
With RSL veteran goalkeeper Nick Rimando still recovering from a knee injury, backup ‘keeper Jeff Attinella will likely start on Saturday in his absence. The Florida native started against Sporting Kansas City last weekend in his first appearance for the Claret-and-Cobalt in 2014, turning in a stellar, eight save performance to keep the shutout and earn a 0-0 draw. The scoreless draw marked Attinella’s second MLS career clean sheet. The 25-year-old made a total of five appearances in 2013, posting a 1-2-1 record and earning one shutout. Rimando missed RSL’s last match against Philadelphia while with the U.S. national team for CONCACAF Gold Cup duty – Josh Saunders started in his place.
The goalkeeper connection – Attinella and MacMath go way back
The relationship between Attinella and Philadelphia goalkeeper Zac MacMath goes way back, with the pair first meeting each other during their days at Tampa-area youth club Clearwater Chargers. Attinella and MacMath faced off against each other several times while in high school, with Attinella – then a senior – usually leading Countryside High over MacMath – who was only a freshman – and St. Petersburg HS. Should Attinella play on Saturday, it would mark the first time the Florida-area natives would face off against each other as pros.
Real Salt Lake looks to remain undefeated in 2014
Real Salt Lake enters Saturday’s match undefeated through its first five MLS regular season matches. RSL boasts a 2-0-3 record for a total of nine points, placing the Claret-and-Cobalt second in the Western Conference – four points behind MLS leaders FC Dallas. RSL is just one of two unbeaten teams in MLS, with Dallas – which hosts Seattle on Saturday – currently the only other squad without a loss. Three of RSL’s first five matches have been on the road, with the Claret-and-Cobalt earning a win and two draws as the visiting side. The Claret-and-Cobalt has a win and a draw at home – defeating Toronto FC 3-0 on March 29 and tying LA Galaxy 1-1 in its home opener on March 22.
Real Salt Lake will look to extend its unbeaten start to the season on Saturday, when it will take on the Philadelphia Union at 2:00 p.m. MT on ABC 4 at PPL Park.
RSL and Philadelphia played to a wild 2-2 draw the last time they met on July 3, 2013 at Rio Tinto Stadium. The Union took an early lead in that match, going up in the 13th minute when Sebastien Le Toux tapped home a Conor Casey cross from inside the six. Things went from bad to worse for RSL - which was without four starters due to Gold Cup duty - in the 59th minute, when defender Lovel Palmer was controversially shown a straight red card for a tackle on Philadelphia's Michael Farfan.
Despite being down a man, the Claret-and-Cobalt was able to find an equalizer in the 75th minute through midfielder Luis Gil, who headed home a Javier Morales cross to tie the game 1-1. Unfortunately for RSL, Casey pulled the Union back ahead one minute later, slotting home past Josh Saunders to make it 2-1. Morales stole a point for RSL right at the death, slotting home a penalty kick in the 97th minute after Union defender Ray Gaddis was whistled for a handball in the box.
Check out the highlights from that wild match - one in a series of insane RSL games in July - above.
Real Salt Lake signed defender Justen Glad to a Homegrown contract on Monday, making the U.S. Under-18 international the seventh RSL-Arizona Academy product to graduate to the first team.
Glad trained with RSL for the entire 2014 preseason, showing well in camps in Casa Grande, Ariz., Irvine, Calif. and at the Desert Diamond Cup in his native Tucson. He picked up a nickname while with the full team, with his angular build, reddish-blonde hair and defensive skills earning him the moniker “Mini-Borchers.”
— Nick Rimando (@NickRimando) February 27, 2014
Borchers commented on Glad’s signing on Monday in his weekly appearance on ESPN 700’s The Bill & Hans Show – and yes, he did mention their physical similarities.
“I can’t wait for the obvious talk on Twitter about how similar we look, Justen Glad and myself,” Borchers said. “He’s just as white as I am, and he’s got a very similar haircut. He can’t grow a beard yet like I can, so we’ll have to wait a few years for that, but we’re really excited about this signing. We got to see Justen up close and personal down in preseason camp, and he’s got a very bright future. He’s a center back slash outside back, he’s only I think 17 years old now, he’s just very good on the ball, not afraid to take players on, really good 1-v-1, really good in the air and he’s just got so much potential.”
Borchers, who will turn 33 next week, said he plans on taking Glad under his wing, just like he has with other RSL players in the past.
“I’m definitely proactive about [helping young players,” he said. “I think that the sooner you impart your knowledge about your craft, the better it’s going to be for these young guys. I think a lot of them can learn from your example, and a lot of times you have to take them aside and talk to them about what you do. But it’s going to be great to see his growth and his learning curve, the same way it was with Luis Gil, with Chris Schuler, Tony Beltran and some of the other guys that came into the league as young guys. We really want to make sure we do our jobs as vets to lead them on the right path.”
We’re not exactly sure what’s going on with this video, but we know it gave us a laugh. Titled simply “Cassar on Lagerwey,” it appears as if it’s a bit of an April Fools gag from five years ago. Smart money says RSL was having a bit of a goalkeeper injury crisis, and the joke was that GM Garth Lagerwey – who played ‘keeper alongside Head Coach Jeff Cassar’s teammate in Dallas and Miami in MLS’s early days – would have to suit up and hop in net.
Just watch the video. It’s a gem.
Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Jeff Attinella had a huge game at Kansas City on Saturday, making eight saves – several of them fantastic – to keep a clean sheet and earn a point for the Claret-and-Cobalt.
Attinella talked about his big game with ABC 4’s Real Sports Live on Sunday, chatting with the station’s Dana Greene in studio about his performance in the scoreless draw at Sporting Park. Check out Attinella’s sit down above.
Real Salt Lake's commentary team Bill Riley and Brian Dunseth also previewed the Claret-and-Cobalt's next match, giving a quick breakdown of RSL's Saturday match at Philadelphia Union at the end of the show. Click here to watch their preview.
Real Salt Lake has had a bevy of big games to start the 2014 season – Saturday’s MLS Cup rematch at Sporting Kansas City might just be the biggest of them all.
Here are a few storylines to look out for ahead of Saturday’s match, which will be broadcast live on ABC 4 at 6:30 p.m. MT.
MLS Cup Rematch
Do we even need to say it? Saturday’s match will see RSL return to the scene of the crime, with the Claret-and-Cobalt heading back to Sporting Park for the first time since heartbreakingly dropping a shootout in MLS Cup 2013 last December. It’s a chance to exorcise some demons for RSL, which is just 1-5-3 in nine regular season and playoff games at Kansas City.
Will midweek USMNT duty affect either lineup?
A combined six players between the sides were in Phoenix this week for the U.S.’s 2-2 friendly draw against Mexico, with five – RSL’s Kyle Beckerman, Tony Beltran and Nick Rimando and Sporting’s Matt Besler and Graham Zusi – starting for the USMNT on Wednesday night. Rimando and Besler both wen the full 90 for Jurgen Klinsmann’s squad, while Beltran, Beckerman and Zusi all came out in the second half. RSL midfielder Luis Gil was also in Phoenix, but did not feature against Mexico. All six of the players will have only one training session with their respective club sides prior to Saturday’s contest. How RSL Head Coach Jeff Cassar and his SKC counterpart Peter Vermes handle their international charges on Saturday will likely play a big role in the match – we’ll see who starts and who sits.
Fouls aplenty, fouls galore
It’s been well documented in the buildup to Saturday’s contest that these two teams don’t exactly like each other. SKC forward Dom Dwyer came right out and said it following Sporting’s win at Colorado last weekend, telling Kansas City’s postgame radio show that he hates RSL “very much.” Nat Borchers fired back a bit this week, saying that he loves [Dwyer’s] comments and that he “probably hates every team in the league.” Both matches between RSL and SKC last year were plenty physical, with RSL’s 2-1 loss v. SKC at Rio Tinto Stadium on July 20 featuring 26 fouls and seven bookings and MLS Cup seeing 40 total fouls and five bookings. Referee Armando Villarreal – who’s just 27 – will have a tough task on his hands managing the game on Saturday evening.
Can RSL stay unbeaten against rough schedule?
RSL is currently unbeaten in the Jeff Cassar era, taking two wins and two draws from matches at LA, at San Jose, home to LA and home to Toronto. The Claret-and-Cobalt is just one of just four unbeaten teams left in MLS. They’ll have their work cut out for them if they’re to keep that unblemished record intact on Saturday. Make sure you tune-in on ABC 4.
Two days until Real Salt Lake and Sporting Kansas City renew their rivalry at Sporting Park.
Two days until RSL gets another bite at the apple.
Michael Bradley has been getting a lot of praise for his performance in the U.S.’s 2-2 draw against Mexico last night. Deservedly so, too. The Toronto FC man was excellent, scoring the Americans’ opener, brilliantly heading RSL defender Tony Beltran’s cross into the path of Chris Wondolowski for an assist on the U.S.’s second, distributing wonderfully and turning in a solid defensive shift at the top of Jurgen Klinsmann’s midfield diamond.
Bradley was freed up on Wednesday, and it paid off. Instead of spending 90 minutes providing cover in front of the backline, he was free to roam where he pleased, pulling attacking strings all over the pitch. He put in defensive work when necessary, but mainly served as a creator, with the entire U.S. attack running through him.
The man behind Bradley in the U.S.’s midfield diamond on Wednesday? That’d be RSL Captain Kyle Beckerman, whose positional discipline, rock-solid distribution and defensive ability allowed Bradley to get up the field with aplomb. The Beckerman-Bradley partnership flourished against El Tri; the two had an obvious chemistry, a solid understanding of each other and played well into each other’s strengths.
— American Soccer Now (@ThisIsASN) April 3, 2014
In short, it was everything that the Bradley’s partnership with Jermaine Jones – Klinsmann’s usual first-choice midfield tandem – usually isn’t. Bradley seemed to notice just that, hinting at it in his postgame comments on Wednesday night.
“I didn’t necessarily look at it so differently than normal other than now you’re playing with a guy in Kyle who does a good job of being disciplined and taking care of things in front of the defenders,” Bradley said. “It means that I’m able to have a little more freedom, have the ability to be a little more two-way and be more up-and-down. It’s certainly something I enjoy.”
Kyle clearly enjoyed himself too, completing 39 of 42 passes before coming off in the 72nd minute.
— MLS Fantasy Insider (@Ben_Jata) April 3, 2014
“I thought we got a lot joy from it. That first half was a lot of fun,” Beckerman said. “[Bradley] can just be effective in more dangerous areas. For all of us, really, there was a lot of space and attacking options once we got the ball.”
Now, the big question: Will we see the Bradley-Beckerman partnership this summer in Brazil? And could Klinsmann give Kyle a start (or two, or three), or will he stick with the familiar – if less dynamic – central midfield duo of Bradley and Jermaine Jones? We don't know, but we do know we're not the only ones who want to see KB5 out there come June.
Quick, someone make a mixtape of Kyle Beckerman's passing. Upload it to YouTube with a Euro trance track and send it to Jurgen. #USMNT
— Eric Beard (@BeardEric) April 3, 2014
Real talk: Kyle Beckerman has been this good throughout the entire cycle. You guys just weren't paying attention.
— Maxi Rodriguez (@FutbolIntellect) April 3, 2014
— Men in Blazers (@MenInBlazers) April 3, 2014