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28 April 1:24 pm

The latest edition of the Crossbar Challenge dropped on ABC 4’s Real Sports Live on Sunday night, with Dunny taking on “Believe” anthem originator, RSL fan and Rancid drummer Branden Steineckert.

Dunny and Branden had a very wide-ranging interview, talking for nearly 45 minutes at the shoot at Rio Tinto Stadium on Friday. You can check out the 34-minute extended cut of the Crossbar Challenge above. Don’t have that kind of time? Watch the nine-minute version that ran on Real Sports Live on Sunday night here

28 April 11:21 am

ABC 4’s Real Sports Live was all over RSL’s 2-2 Saturday draw against Vancouver Whitecaps FC, covering the match front-to-back on their Sunday night show.

Claret-and-Cobalt midfielder Ned Grabavoy and defender Tony Beltran sat down with Brian Dunseth and Bill Riley after the game for part of that coverage, both giving honest, forthright assessments of RSL’s disappointing draw.

Check out their interviews in the above video. 

25 April 2:57 pm

Real Salt Lake will look to stay unbeaten in the 2014 season on Saturday, when it will host Canadian side Vancouver Whitecaps FC in a 7:30 p.m. MT tilt at Rio Tinto Stadium.

Here are a few storylines to watch ahead of Saturday’s match:

Rimando looks to make history

Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando can make history on Saturday, as he’s just one shutout away from tying retired goalkeeper Kevin Hartman for the all-time MLS shutout record with 112 career regular season clean-sheets. The Wall of the Wasatch has three shutouts in just five games this season, tied with Houston’s Tally Hall and Sporting KC’s Eric Kronberg for most in the league.

RSL aims to extend club-record unbeaten streak

RSL has gotten off to a fantastic start in 2014, posting an unbeaten 3-0-4 record through its first seven games. The lone remaining unbeaten team in MLS, this is RSL’s longest-ever unbeaten run to start a season. The Claret-and-Cobalt’s current regular season unbeaten streak of 11 games dating back to last September’s win at Vancouver is the second-longest in club history, behind the 18-game regular season unbeaten run compiled from July 2010-April 2011. Should RSL pick up a result on Saturday, it would become just the ninth team in MLS history to start a season unbeaten in its first eight games.

Could Cassar move up the record books?

Real Salt Lake Head Coach Jeff Cassar’s seven-game unbeaten streak to start his managerial career is one of the best in MLS history, tied for third in league history with ex-Chicago Manager and current Montreal Head Coach Frank Klopas. Cassar can move into a tie for second with a result on Saturday, as an eight-game unbeaten streak to start a head coaching career would bring him even with the late Tom Fitzgerald, who started 8-0-0 after taking over the Columbus Crew midway into the 1996 season. Should RSL get a result on Saturday, Cassar would have the longest unbeaten run to start a coaching career in MLS’s non-shootout era; Lothar Osiander started his MLS coaching career 12-0-0 with LA in 1996.  

Will Plata return to the starting lineup?

Real Salt Lake forward Joao Plata made his return from injury last week, coming off the bench in the second half after missing three games due to a left hamstring strain. The dangerous Ecuadorian has been dynamite this season, registering two goals and two assists in just 230 minutes. We could see him return to the starting XI on Saturday, something that would no doubt give RSL a boost against the dangerous ‘Caps.

Last home game for international trio?

Saturday’s match could be the last home game for quite some time for three of RSL’s biggest players, as Rimando, Captain Kyle Beckerman and forward Alvaro Saborio could all be with their respective national teams ahead of the World Cup prior to the Claret-and-Cobalt’s next home match on May 17 against Colorado. FIFA mandates that clubs release players for pre-World Cup camps on May 14. Should all three players make their country’s World Cup roster, the next possible home game they would be available for wouldn’t be until July 4 against New England, over two months from now.  

25 April 11:03 am

Real Salt Lake has had a good deal of success against Vancouver Whitecaps FC, posting a 4-2-2 all-time record against the Canadian side. RSL is currently on a four-game unbeaten run against the ‘Caps dating back to 2012. The Claret-and-Cobalt won its last match against Vancouver, using a reserve-laden side to top Whitecaps FC 1-0 at BC Place last September.

Check out highlights of last September’s victory above. RSL faces Vancouver again on Saturday, hosting the ‘Caps at Rio Tinto Stadium at 7:30 p.m. MT. 

24 April 5:52 pm

Saturday’s matchup between Real Salt Lake and Vancouver Whitecaps FC will likely feature a clash of the Morales’. RSL’s own Javier Morales will go up against Vancouver’s new addition, 28-year-old Pedro Morales. Acquired in the offseason, Pedro Morales spent the last two seasons with Spain’s La Liga side Malaga CF, starting 13 of his 22 appearances and notching four goals for the Spanish club.

Javier and Pedro have a lot more in common than just their last names. The two both hail from neighboring countries in South America – Javier from Argentina and Pedro from Chile. But don’t let their proximity fool you; Argentina and Chile aren’t known to have the best relations which include a deep futbol rivalry between the nations. On the pitch, both Javier and Pedro play a similar role for their respective clubs, both serve as the attacking playmaker on the field – positions associated with the famed number 10.

Javier has been with RSL for his entire MLS career and is now in his eighth season with the Claret-and-Cobalt, so comparing the two overall is a bit premature, but both Morales’ stats in 2014 seem to show how similar the two players might really be.

Javier has started six of RSL’s first seven matches for a total of 527 minutes of playing time. The Argentine has notched two assists and recorded a total of seven shots with two shots on goal. Pedro has similarly been an influence for Vancouver, scoring one goal and notching two assists in seven appearances – five of which were starts – in 472 minutes played. The Chilean seems to pull the trigger more often though, registering a total of 19 shots with eight on goal.

Here are some comparable stats between the two:

Javier Morales (RSL) 527 min.
Pedro Morales (VAN) 472 min.
Chances created (incl. assists)
Chances created from open play
Chances created from set play
Passing Accuracy
Passing accuracy in opp. half
Passing accuracy in final third
Passes into final third
Successful crosses/corners

As you can see from the above table, the two playmakers have similar starts to the 2014 season. Passing accuracy between the two is almost even across the board. Only one overall chance created stands between the two with Pedro edging out the RSL veteran with two more chances created from open play. The biggest difference between the two is the number of passes into the final third, with Pedro recording 15 more than Javier.  

Saturday’s matchup looks to be an entertaining one with both Morales’ playing key roles and wielding their influence on their respective clubs. Only time will tell which Morales comes out on top.

24 April 10:29 am

Real Salt Lake’s Ned Grabavoy had a fantastic interview on the Pitch Pass podcast last night, speaking out about his family, home life, love of Chicago sports teams and his goal celebration after scoring in Saturday’s 1-0 win over Portland, something that’s generated a bit of conversation in Salt Lake over the last few days.

Here’s what Ned had to say about the celebration, which you can watch right here.

“It was just shaking the dice, I was trying to just throw the dice,” he said. “I feel like the first six or seven games I’ve been around the box and haven’t been doing as well with the finishing, so I’ve kind of been pushing for a goal a little bit and wanting to get on a little run. Sometimes you get streaky and get a couple goals in three, four games so all I was trying to do was roll the dice and get hot a little bit. I think someone tried to jump on my back and tackle me a little bit, so I had to drop him and try to throw the dice again.”

On whether he was rolling the dice like he was playing craps, or like he was playing Yahtzee:

“I don’t know what I was trying to roll, but it was something good to get hot and get the team hot and trying to get going,” he said. “When you score a goal and you start to run towards a corner where your fans are screaming, you blackout a little bit and you lose your thought process and kind of grab the first thing that comes to your mind. I don’t plan these things out in advance, just kind of do whatever.”

Go listen to the entire 25-minute interview. It’s a good picture into the life of the always-quotable Grabavoy, who was certainly in fine form for the segment. You can skip directly to the Grabavoy by clicking the “Segment 2: Ned Grabavoy” box in the YouTube window above. 

22 April 2:47 pm

Real Salt Lake defender Nat Borchers joined Bill Riley for his ABC 4 postgame interview after RSL’s 1-0 win over Portland Timbers. Borchers gives his take on RSL’s dominance over the Timbers and outlines what the Claret-and-Cobalt have to look out for in Saturday’s clash with Vancouver Whitecaps FC. Check out the quick interview below.

21 April 11:54 am

The U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team lost 2-0 in the 2014 Dallas Cup Final to Argentine side River Plate at the Cotton Bowl on Sunday. The two sides had met previously in their opening match of the tournament, which saw a different outcome with the Americans coming out on top 3-2.

River Plate’s Lucas Boye proved unstoppable, as he scored both goals – one in each half – for the Argentine side. The U.S. looked to be out of gas after having played five games in seven days. A match recap can be found here.

The U.S. U-20’s went undefeated up until the Final, defeating River Plate 3-2, shutting out German side Eintracht Frankfurt 3-0, beating Mexican club Tigres UANL 1-0 and defeating Brazilian club Fluminense 3-2 in the semifinals.

Two RSL players, midfielder Jordan Allen and forward Benji Lopez, featured heavily for the Americans throughout the tournament. Allen notched two assists and earned the game-winning penalty in the semifinal match against Fluminense. Lopez recorded one goal, notching the first in the Americans’ 3-0 win over Eintracht Frankfurt.

Both Allen and Lopez will return to Salt Lake City today.

19 April 3:00 pm

Real Salt Lake’s Jordan Allen played a big role for the U.S. Under-20 National Team in its 3-2 Dallas Cup Semifinal victory over Brazilian club Fluminense on Friday, coming off the bench and hitting the post and earning the game-winning PK for the Stars-and-Stripes.

The U.S. got off to a great start on Friday, getting goals from Rubio Rubin and Ben Spencer to take a 2-0 lead after just 18 minutes. Fluminense cut the U.S.’s lead in half just before the halftime whistle and went up a man shortly after the break, with U.S. defender Erik Palmer-Brown picking up a second yellow card in the 48th minute. The U.S. held strong after Palmer-Brown’s ejection, but couldn’t quite see the game out, with Fluminense equalizing in the third minute of stoppage time to force extra time.

Allen was active in overtime, hitting a curling ball off the post in the first period of extra time and getting fouled in the box to earn the decisive penalty in the second overtime period. Rubin had his ensuing PK saved, but he slotted home the rebound to give the U.S. a 3-2 win.

Allen, fellow RSL Homegrown Benji Lopez and the rest of the U.S. U-20’s will take on a youth side from Argentine club River Plate in the Dallas Cup Final at 5:00 p.m. MT on Sunday.