Blog

MLS Regular Season

06 May 1:08 pm

Real Salt Lake got back on the right track on Saturday night, when it closed out its three-game home stand with a solid 2-0 win over Vancouver Whitecaps FC at Rio Tinto Stadium.

Here are a few interesting numbers from Saturday’s match:

1

19-year-old Real Salt Lake defender Carlos Salcedo became the first RSL-Arizona Academy graduate to play in a MLS match when he came on for forward Joao Plata in the 89th minute of Saturday’s win. Saturday was Salcedo’s first appearance in the 18 since March 16, when he suffered a concussion in the RSL Reserves 2-1 win over Colorado immediately following the first-team game.

4

RSL forward Joao Plata is tied with Kansas City midfielder Graham Zusi for the league lead with four assists. The Ecuadorian attacker had two assists in Saturday’s game, crossing to midfielder Luis Gil for the opener before squaring a ball to playmaker Javier Morales for the second goal. The two assist performance was the first time in 2013 that a RSL player has had multiple assists in a game.

7

Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando now has seven career assists after he was credited with one on the Claret-and-Cobalt’s opening goal on Saturday. Saturday’s assist was Rimando’s second in a game in which he also kept a clean sheet, with the first such effort coming in RSL’s 1-0 win over Seattle on Aug. 8, 2009.

90

Real Salt Lake defender Chris Wingert started and played all 90 minutes on Saturday. It was Wingert’s first MLS appearance of the season; the veteran left back missed RSL’s first seven games while recovering from a right foot fracture suffered in December and did not play in either of the Claret-and-Cobalt’s previous two matches.

8

Saturday’s starting forward pairing of Plata and rookie forward Devon Sandoval is the eighth different starting striker duo RSL has used in 10 games this season. The Plata-Sandoval pair was the seventh different strike combination used by RSL in its last seven games. 

06 May 11:35 am

Real Salt Lake midfielder Sebastian Velasquez had a nice sitdown interview with David James on CBS 2's Talkin' Sports on Sunday night. The second-year playmaker goes into detail on his early life during the interview, at one point telling James that RSL "saved his life."

Click here to watch the entire interview. Definitely worth the time. 

03 May 3:15 pm

With Vancouver coming to Rio Tinto Stadium tomorrow, Real Salt Lake will be looking to establish a strike partnership to carry forward with Alvaro Saborio out with injury.

Striking up a partnership: Olmes at the core

Leading scorer Alvaro Saborio is out for at least a few weeks, and that's certain to add a bit of stress to the RSL strike force. As a result, it's important that a partnership be struck up between the strikers available — whether this is Olmes Garcia and Devon Sandoval or Olmes Garcia and Joao Plata is difficult to say. It seems likely, though, that Olmes Garcia is at the center of considerations at this point, such have been his displays in this still-early season.

He presents different advantages with each option: Alongside Sandoval, Garcia could play a little deeper and more central, picking up on balls shook loose by the big man. Sandoval's also a disruptive figure, and we've seen him getting some joy with his ability to hold off an opponent. Alongside Plata, Garcia could be a more central figure around which Plata would pivot. The options are boundless.

There's always a chance Garcia doesn't get the start, but if he's fit, the odds seem pretty good. He's the most flexible option of the three potentially available, and with RSL's attack still developing and building anew, that flexibility may be enough to sway considerations. He's also the only one of the three with a goal, and in every match he's played, he's looked dangerous and likely to score further goals.

Familiarity

We're not unfamiliar with how Vancouver Whitecaps FC is looking this season, largely because we played against them only — what — three weeks ago? It's a funny thing, this somewhat-randomized intra-conference play. As a result, there shouldn't be any real surprises — and hopefully no strangely decided penalty kicks with which to contend. This should be particularly useful when considering Vancouver's attacking options. Truth be told, RSL looked pretty good against Vancouver, but improving on that will be a high priority.

First to the gates

Something like that, right? The onus is on Real Salt Lake to control the proceedings and to score first. It's an obviously desirable thing, but as we've seen, this side has trouble breaking down teams defending deep. Particularly without Alvaro Saborio out there to disrupt defenders through hold-up play, there's an inherent difficulty in breaking down those walls — unparking the bus, as it were. Scoring first and early forces Vancouver to abandon any designs to sit back and defend.

A regular contributor to RealSaltLake.com, Matt Montgomery runs the SB Nation blog RSL Soapbox. Follow Matt on Twitter @TheCrossbarRSL

03 May 9:51 am

ABC4's Dana Greene filed a hilarious report on Thursday night featuring several RSL personalities ahead of Saturday's Star Wars Day at Rio Tinto Stadium. Give it a watch - and May the 4th be with you. 

02 May 3:32 pm

Tony Beltran - RSL's biggest Star Wars fan - with a friendly reminder to dress up in your best Star Wars gear for this Saturday's "May the 4th be with you" 7:00 p.m. kickoff against Vancouver at Rio Tinto Stadium. 

Get your tickets for Saturday's match here.

02 May 9:31 am

Really, really fantastic stuff out of Portland, where the Timbers and the Make-A-Wish Oregon made 8-year-old Atticus Lane-Dupre's dream of playing the MLS side at Jeld-Wen Field come true on Wednesday

Atticus - who was diagnosed with cancer last fall - and his Green Machine teammates were treated to the full gameday experience on Wednesday, with more than 3,000 rowdy fans cheering them on as they took down Portland 10-9. Atticus scored four goals - nutmegging former RSL midfielder Will Johnson on one - and was named Man of the Match. 

Thanks, Portland. And thank you, Atticus.

01 May 3:42 pm

Known throughout the galaxy for his tactical wisdom and (inter)stellar man-management, Real Salt Lake Head Coach/Jedi Master Jason Kreis is also a gem in the media. Here are a few of his best quotes, as interpreted by Yoda ahead of Saturday's Star Wars Day at Rio Tinto Stadium match between RSL and Vancouver Whitecaps FC.

Credit to the folks at Yoda Speak for the translations

Kreis: “The Team is the Star.”

YodaKreis: “The star, the team is.  Yes, hmmm.”

@JasonKreis on Twitter: “A thought: adversity always reveals people's character. So why shouldn't we look at it as an opportunity? A chance to show who/what we are!”

YodaKreis: “Adversity always reveals people's character. So look at it as an opportunity why should we not, hmm?  Who and what we are, it is a chance to show!”

Kreis: “It’s amazing how much can be accomplished if no one cares who gets the credit.”

YodaKreis: "Amazing how much can be accomplished if no one cares who gets the credit, it is. Herh herh herh."

Kreis: "Do not bear this great challenge before us as a burden, but rather rejoice in it, soak it up, and know that together we can accomplish anything."

YodaKreis: "Bear this great challenge before us as a burden, do not. But rather, rejoice in it, soak it up and accomplish anything, know that together we can.  Yeesssssss."

Kreis: "Professional sports lead to big egos. We do not have room or time for that."

YodaKreis: "To big egos professional sports lead.  Room or time for that we have not.  Hmmmmmm."

Kreis: "The victorious performance itself is merely the demonstration of championship character."

YodaKreis: "Merely the demonstration of championship character, the victorious performance itself is.  Yes, hmmm."

@JasonKreis on Twitter: “Always striving to give our best.”

YodaKreis: “To give our best always striving.  Yeesssss.”

Kreis: “I don’t like it and if I had refereed that I wouldn’t have made that call, but I don’t referee, I coach, and hopefully I’ll stay that way.” 

YodaKreis: “I like it not and if I had refereed that I would not have made that call, but referee I not, I coach, and hopefully, stay that way, I will.  Yes, hmmm.”

01 May 1:46 pm

From left to right: Real Salt Lake Head Coach Jason Kreis as Luke Skywalker, Assistant Miles Joseph as Han Solo, Goalkeeping Coach Jeff Cassar as Chewbacca and Assistant C.J. Brown as Lando Calrissian. 

May the 4th be with you. 

30 April 3:51 pm

You’ve seen the poster and you’ve seen the Twitter pictures; you may have even spotted him at Rio Tinto Stadium.

Until now, though, you may not have known the identity of Real Salt Lake’s favorite bounty hunter, Garrett Davis. A RSL season ticket holder since the inaugural season in 2005 and a huge Star Wars fan, Davis attends every Claret-and-Cobalt home match in a full-body, RSL-themed Boba Fett suit.

With that sort of commitment to both club and Empire, you can imagine how excited Davis was when he first heard that RSL would be hosting Star Wars Day at Rio Tinto Stadium for this Saturday’s match against Vancouver Whitecaps FC.

“I have a hard time describing it,” he told RealSaltLake.com on Tuesday. “My wife said it perfectly: Just saying I’m excited about Saturday’s match is an understatement. It’s definitely two of my passions, it’s a match made in heaven. It’s like peanut butter and jelly, having RSL and Star Wars together. I’ve seen other teams in different leagues do something like this and I always thought it’d be great to have here and I’m really excited to be a part of the festivities. My brother called me to let me know I was on the poster and I was absolutely ecstatic to be a part of it.”

For those who don’t know, Boba Fett is a villainous bounty hunter who first appeared in the second Star Wars film, The Empire Strikes Back. Davis began putting his Fett costume together last season, when he bought his helmet, painted it Claret and Cobalt and started wearing it to games. He even got it signed by most RSL players at last year’s “Meet the Team” event, several of whom – most notably noted Star Wars fan Tony Beltran – got a kick out of the head gear.

He took things up a notch this season, buying the full-body suit to match his helmet. And, despite his character’s evil tendencies – Boba Fett pals around with Darth Vader and Jabba the Hutt in George Lucas’s iconic series – Davis has been embraced by RSL fans, who often pose for pictures with him at home games.

“It’s been incredible,” he said of the fan reaction to his costume. “Even last year when I just had the mask it was great. This year, with the full suit, it’s just been incredible. It’s been really fun to take pictures with other fans and the reception’s always great when I’m walking into the stadium with friends and family.”  

Davis – who said he’s “a little nervous” about wearing the suit to the stadium in the summer heat – will participate in Saturday’s “May the 4th be with you” festivities as the RSL Season Ticket Holder of the Game. You’ll have a chance to catch him on the Rio Tinto Stadium big screen before the match as he leads the Parade of Kings out onto the field.

“It’s a fun way to combine two passions of mine and a fun way to express my fandom to the club,” he said. “Putting together the costume with the RSL colors and logo shows some extra passion, I guess. Luckily, it hasn't driven away my wife and she still comes to games with me."

29 April 9:53 pm

It would be painfully easy to focus on the very poor start to the 2-0 loss against LA Galaxy on Saturday night, but what's tactically more interesting (and less depressing) is the nature of RSL's response to the challenge.

Three at the back

It's not the first time we've seen Jason Kreis shift things around for a three-man back line, and there's something slightly worrying about the necessity of that trend — but when it came time for, as he called them, "desperate measures," there wasn't a moment of hesitation.

But if we look at the Opta chalkboards, we see that it might be more accurate to call it two at the back — Tony Beltran essentially played as an attacking winger, mirroring Ned Grabavoy on the pitch and getting involved in much action. Of course, it's difficult to derive positional arguments out of the late harried action on Saturday night, but there's something to be said for your right back dictating play on the attacking flank.

Beckerman pushed up

Rather than looking toward a nominally more attacking 3-4-3, Kreis went toward a 3-5-2 that saw Kyle Beckerman pushed further up the pitch than usual. Yordany Alvarez came on — essentially for Lovel Palmer, although the order of substitutions speaks ever-so-slightly differently — and was deployed centrally in a vaguely anchoring role. Beckerman moved further up, and given his work rate and energy on the night, it's hard to fault Kreis. It was a strong response late on from the captain, and he covered an immense amount of ground as desperation set in and LA Galaxy sat deeper and deeper.

Dealing with the bus

Real Salt Lake have obviously problems when 11 opponents are sat in the defensive end of the midfield, but they're hardly alone in this. Breaking down a well-organized side like LA Galaxy is difficult on any given match day, but it's rendered tougher when the opposition is handed an early lead to protect.

It should be said, though, that RSL had a great response to that defensive challenge, and with two players hitting the woodwork in the final 30 minutes and five shots blocked — three of which were in the box — it doesn't seem so much a matter of figuring out how best to break down a deep, dedicated defensive line, but how to finish around them. There's certainly some reason for encouragement in that respect.

A regular contributor to RealSaltLake.com, Matt Montgomery runs the SB Nation blog RSL Soapbox. Follow Matt on Twitter @TheCrossbarRSL