MLSsoccer.com's Matt Doyle and Dan Haiek gave Saturday's Real Salt Lake-Seattle Sounders FC matchup the Scouting Report treatment. Give it a watch ahead of tomorrow's 7:30 p.m. kick at Rio Tinto Stadium.
If you're anything like me, when things in the soccer world are going well, life just seems to be a little bit better. It's hard not to leave Rio Tinto Stadium with a smile when your team earns three well-deserved points. If it seems like your post-game walk to the car has often been a happy one lately, that's because it has - teams that call Rio Tinto Stadium home have been extraordinarily successful as of late. Consider the following:
- RSL is on fire in MLS play right now. Since the beginning of May, the Claret-and-Cobalt have collected a league-best 16 points in just 7 matches. Along the way they've found the back of the net a whopping 17 times. At home they've taken 10 of a possible 12 points with a goal differential of +7.
- While all that MLS action was going down, RSL also managed to find success in U.S. Open Cup play. May/June saw two home contests, both won by RSL, both against lower-division foes, though it wasn't easy as both games went into extra time before Salt Lake could secure the victories. As in MLS play, goals have been plentiful for Real in the USOC as they've managed to score eight times in those two matches, with five of those goals coming in 60 total minutes of extra time played.
- The weather wasn't all that was hot on Tuesday night as the U.S. Men's National Team continued their torrid run of form in dispatching Honduras 1-0 in the CONCACAF Hexagonal. The U.S. men started their streak of good results on June 2 with a thumping of world soccer power Germany 4-3 in a final tuneup before three straight World Cup Qualifiers. After that they took their show on the road in Jamaica where a dramatic stoppage-time goal by Brad Evans gave the Red, White, and Blue three crucial road points. All eyes then focused on Seattle where the Nats easily handled Panama with perhaps their best showing in the last few years, setting the stage for this week's victory at Rio Tinto. That win was the U.S.'s fourth straight, giving the team all nine possible points in World Cup qualifying in June. With six games down and four to go, the U.S. is now in command of The Hex from the top of the table, two points ahead of Costa Rica and five points clear of Mexico. It's not over until it's over, but thanks to the current hot streak we all got to be a part of, the U.S. is a virtual lock for the 2014 World Cup.
It's interesting to note that the U.S. men and Real Salt Lake have found their recent success by different means. For the U.S. team, their success has come from stability - for the first time in a long time, lineups and player personnel decisions were consistent. For RSL, their success has come from versatility - with the crowded schedule, injuries, and international absences, most of the roster has seen minutes in MLS and/or U.S. Open Cup play. For the U.S. team, their scoring load has been shouldered by Jozy Altidore who has scored in all four of the States' recent wins, while for RSL, their scoring load has been spread far and wide - nine different players have scored since the start of May. This goes to show that what two teams need to be successful are not necessarily the same. It also illustrates the difference between a cluster of three games followed by a long break (where consistency is needed) vs. the constant grind of a nine-month MLS season (where flexibility is needed).
If you've missed out on these red-hot teams in their various competitions, don't fret - both clubs will be back at Rio Tinto shortly.
- RSL has three MLS home games in the next month, starting this Saturday with Seattle paying a visit. This is a great chance for RSL to continue their strong run in league play while climbing the table and also putting some distance between them and a Western Conference foe.
- Real will be contesting their U.S. Open Cup Quarterfinal match at home next Wednesday against Carolina. If you've never given the USOC a chance, this would be a good time to see what it's all about. We've seen two good matches already, but the U.S. Open Cup gets even more compelling starting now as teams realize that they're only a couple of wins away from a CONCACAF Champions League berth. You will see playoff-atmosphere soccer in this one, especially considering the winner hosts a USOC Semifinal against Portland or Dallas.
- The U.S. men will be back to Rio Tinto on July 13 for a Gold Cup tilt against Cuba. Granted, this won't be the strongest team the U.S. is capable of fielding, but it gives us a look at some up-and-coming players on the national scene. Nothing is for certain but this game could have a couple RSL players featuring prominently while the likes of Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey get a well-deserved vacation. Plus it's still high-level international soccer; if you haven't experienced international soccer, it has a unique vibe to it. Everyone needs to be a part of something like this at least once.
We've been blessed with lots of great soccer - and great teams - at Rio Tinto Stadium recently, and it's not over yet. See you out here!
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.
Remember the last time Real Salt Lake played Seattle? Yeah, that was fun. Let's do it again on Saturday.
Fan voting for this summer's MLS All-Star Game began on June 10. On Thursday, a new element was added: The Twitter vote.
How does the Twitter vote work? Here's all you need to know:
- Votiing is open from 10 a.m. MT on Thursday until 9:59 p.m. MT on Friday. It's a short window, so vote for your favorite RSL players early and often.
An eligible vote consists of the hashtag #MLSAllStar
AND the player's full name (first and last required) with or without a space.
- Example: Kyle Beckerman or KyleBeckerman
OR their Twitter handle
- Example: @NickRimando
- AND the player's full name (first and last required) with or without a space.
- Fans may vote for multiple players in a tweet; however fans may not vote for a single player multiple times within one tweet.
Fans may only vote for players on the All-Star ballot
- The six RSL players on the ballot are: Kyle Beckerman, Tony Beltran, Nat Borchers, Javier Morales, Nick Rimando and Alvaro Saborio. Click here to see the full ballot.
- There is no limit to the number of tweet votes fans can submit for any one player. Like we said, vote early and vote often.
- Each Twitter vote counts equal to one text vote or one online vote.
Don't have Twitter? No, worries. Click here to fill out the standard online ballot. Vote RSL!
Really cool video from RSL-Arizona Academy U-18 player Trevor Hyman, who used a GoPro camera to take us inside life at Grande Sports Academy.
Hyman filmed his journey to Casa Grande from his home in Southern California, a few RSL-AZ training sessions and some footage from the roof of the Academy dorm. It's a really great look at life at the RSL-AZ Academy - definitely worth a watch.
Hyman and the RSL-AZ U-18's will begin their run in the U.S. Soccer Developmental Academy Playoffs next Monday in Dallas. The Claret-and-Cobalt enter the playoffs as the top seed in their group, which includes St. Louis Scott Gallagher-Missouri, CASL Chelsea FC Academy and D.C. United. Each playoff team has a chance to qualify for USSDA's Finals Week, which will be held from July 14-20 in Houston.
Hyman will join Stanford University's soccer team this fall. Give him a follow on Twitter @trevorhyman8.
U.S. Men’s National Team Manager Jurgen Klinsmann sure seems like a fan of Salt Lake City.
Klinsmann was very complimentary of SLC and Real Salt Lake on Friday in a U.S. Soccer Q&A ahead of Tuesday’s World Cup Qualifier against Honduras at Rio Tinto Stadium. Good thing, too: After spending six days in town ahead of Tuesday’s qualifier, Klinsmann and the USMNT will return to Utah in just a few short weeks for its July 13 CONCACAF Gold Cup match against Cuba in Sandy.
Here’s what Klinsmann’s expecting from Tuesday’s sold-out Rio Tinto Stadium crowd:
”Everybody was thrilled to experience Seattle [where the U.S. beat Panama 2-0 on June 11]. Everybody said afterwards, ‘Wow, this was definitely the right decision to go all the way to the Northwest from Jamaica.’ We spent eight hours on the plane, but then we were thrilled because the support was just amazing and we expect the same at Rio Tinto Stadium. We know this is a very passionate crowd, they love soccer here in Salt Lake and what happens with Real Salt Lake similar to the Sounders is just wonderful. It shows how strong MLS has become, how strong soccer has become in this country. It’s more proof of it, and therefore we can’t wait to start that game. I’m sure the fans will carry us through the game, help us to push the envelope, help us keep the energy high and help get these three points that we badly need.”
U.S. Soccer published a nice video piece on Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando on Sunday ahead of Tuesday's World Cup Qualifier against Honduras at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Check it out to get Nick's thoughts on being with the national team, plus some added color from his U.S. teammates Tim Howard, Michael Bradley and Sacha Kljestan.
Real Salt Lake midfielder Luis Gil suffered a setback in the U.S. Under-20’s friendly win over Portugal on Friday, starting and coming off in the 40th minute after colliding heads with a Portuguese defender.
Gil joined the U-20’s last week for a training camp in Portugal ahead of the U-20 World Cup in Turkey. The U.S. is drawn into the tournament’s “Group of Death” with Spain, France and Ghana. The Stars-and-Stripes will open the tournament against Spain next Friday. The top two teams from each of the six groups and the top-four third-place teams in the tournament will advance to the Round of 16.
There’s no word yet on the severity of Gil’s injury. We’ll update as soon as we know more.
Update (5:45 p.m. MT on Friday): Sounds like Gil will be alright. According to a U.S. Soccer representative, the 19-year-old midfielder substition was merely precautionary.
Lower-league opponents in the U.S. are nearly always a tricky bag, and Charleston Battery further exemplified this rule. Compact, decisive, and quick, the Battery gave everyone a good scare when they scored the first two goals of the match. The question, then: How did Real Salt Lake adjust for their comeback?
Everyone got better. This is easy to say and hard to do, and it doesn't say much of anything from a tactical perspective. That said, it's difficult to execute any tactical decisions when you're looking at the worst you've been in some time. Everybody stepped up their quality in the second half.
A center back was removed. With the impetus on Real Salt Lake to get back into the affair, and with the Battery quite rightly sitting very deep and hoping to fend off an undoubtedly inevitable onslaught, two defenders almost seemed extraneous. Making his first club appearance — an admittedly poor one at that — Aaron Maund stepped off shortly into the second half and Jason Kreis switched the formation.
It took a quintessential attacking 3-4-3 to really break down the Battery defense. Joao Plata and Robbie Findley occupied the attacking flanks, with Devon Sandoval serving as a target man and grabbing two headed goals along the way. Javier Morales and Ned Grabavoy served as the more-attacking midfielders (they really did all attack) and Khari Stephenson and Kyle Beckerman sat deeper and more centrally. Chris Wingert tucked in slightly centrally to position himself better for runs down the middle, and Tony Beltran bombed forward from right back to stretch play.
We stretched play superbly. When we face a hyper-defensive side — and again, there's not an ounce of blame in that for Charleston in their strategy — we have historically struggled to break them down. With Findley and Plata wide to stretch play laterally and Devon Sandoval to stretch along the vertical axis, it became difficult for Charleston to ignore any of those three players up top. Given their proclivity for staying in central positions, this opened room for Plata and Findley to receive clever passes from the midfield and cut inside. Even when they weren't involved in goalscoring movement like that, both players were important to the fightback.
Real Salt Lake doesn't have much history in the U.S. Open Cup, but it has had a few good moments over the years.
We've put together a couple of the Claret-and-Cobalt's "Signature Moments" in the Open Cup ahead of Wednesday's fourth-round match between RSL and the Charleston Battery at Rio Tinto Stadium.
May 28, 2013 - RSL beats the Atlanta Silverbacks 3-2 in dramatic fashion in the 2013 third-round.
June 28, 2011 - Highlights from RSL's 2-0 win over the Wilmington Hammerheads in the fourth-round of the 2011 Open Cup. Defender Tony Beltran and former RSL man Jean Alexandre scored for the Claret-and-Cobalt; the goal is the only one of Beltran's career.