MLS Regular Season
Toronto FC Head Coach Ryan Nelsen had a bit of a go at Real Salt Lake on Tuesday, telling reporters at TFC’s media availability that he thinks that Claret-and-Cobalt forward Alvaro Saborio should be suspended for his challenge on LA’s A.J. DeLaGarza (video above) in Saturday’s 1-1 draw.
Nelsen’s the latest to hop in on the debate, which began on Saturday when LA’s Bruce Arena, Landon Donovan and Omar Gonzalez called for Saborio to be suspended in postgame comments after the RSL-LA match at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Nelsen commented on Saborio after fielding questions about TFC midfielder Jackson, who Nelsen predicted will likely get suspended for this elbow to DC’s Davy Arnaud.
“That could have broken his leg,” Nelsen said of Saborio’s challenge in a report by Sportsnet’s John Molinaro. “If Jackson gets suspended, you’d like to hope that a [player] who has nearly broken a guy’s leg is going to get suspended as well. You never know, though. I don’t make up the rules.”
Nelsen also commented on TFC’s early season schedule on Tuesday, calling it “probably the toughest start of any team in the whole of the league.”
Here’s Toronto’s start: at Seattle, v. DC, at RSL, at Columbus, v. Colorado, at Dallas.
Here’s RSL’s: at LA, at San Jose, v. LA, v. Toronto, at Kansas City, at Philadelphia.
And, just for good measure, here’s Colorado’s: at New York, v. Portland, v. Kansas City, at Vancouver, at Toronto, v. San Jose.
We’ll let you be the judge.
Real Salt Lake will host a revamped Toronto FC side on Saturday, welcoming the 2-0-0 Canadian club to Rio Tinto Stadium for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff. The match will feature a battle of two of the best central midfielders in MLS, with RSL Captain Kyle Beckerman facing off against TFC Designated Player Michael Bradley.
While Bradley is widely considered the better of the two players – he starts ahead of Beckerman on the U.S. Men’s National Team – one RSL player sees things a little bit differently. Claret-and-Cobalt defender Nat Borchers thinks Beckerman is the better than Bradley, and said as much during his Monday appearance on “The Bill and Hans Show” on ESPN 700.
Nat’s full quote is below. Click here to listen to his full interview.
“I think Bradley is a very similar player to Kyle Beckerman, except I think Kyle’s a better player. Both of those players are getting paid to score goals, assist on goals and to do the dirty work defensively. You look at Bradley, he’s not afraid to track runners back into his own half, not afraid to press defenders forward into their half. He’s all over the place and he can cover an amazing amount of ground. To quantify what he does on the pitch is really more about wins and losses than goals or assists. He just does so much for his team, just like Kyle Beckerman does for us.”
Well said, Nat.
The Washington Post’s Steven Goff came out with some interesting info yesterday, breaking the news that U.S. Men’s National Team Manager Jurgen Klinsmann will be at Rio Tinto Stadium when Real Salt Lake hosts Toronto FC this Saturday.
— Steven Goff (@SoccerInsider) March 24, 2014
As Goff reported, Klinsmann will be in town to watch RSL’s Nick Rimando and Kyle Beckerman and TFC’s Michael Bradley ahead of the U.S.’s friendly against Mexico in Phoenix next Wednesday. Klinsmann will likely also be keeping a close eye on Claret-and-Cobalt midfielder Luis Gil, who received his first cap with the senior national team on Feb. 1 against South Korea.
By our count, this will be Klinsmann’s fourth time at Rio Tinto Stadium since last June. The USMNT manager was in town for the June 18, 2013 World Cup Qualifier against Honduras, the July 13, 2013 Gold Cup Group Stage match against Cuba and the Oct. 1 RSL-D.C. United U.S. Open Cup Final.
As always, ABC 4’s Real Sports Live did a great job of covering Real Salt Lake on Sunday night, going in-depth on the Claret-and-Cobalt’s home opening 1-1 draw with the LA Galaxy.
RSL defender Nat Borchers appeared on this week’s show, talking about Saturday’s match with ABC 4’s Wesley Ruff. Check out Nat’s interview above.
Nice work from MLSsoccer.com's Matt Doyle and Dan Haiek previewing Saturday's RSL-LA tilt. Check out their scouting report above.
As told to Sam Stejskal
- I grew up in Preston, England. Obviously football is just so popular there, so I started as soon as I can remember with a ball at my feet. Played with my primary school team, my high school team, but my whole time in England I never got picked up by a professional team’s academy. So I went and played for my local college team, Preston College Football Academy. Before going there I knew that they went on a yearly trip to America and the ultimate goal for that trip was for players to get scholarships to university. University football in England is not the same as it is in America, it’s a lot better in America because university sports aren’t a big deal in England. So, I had two options, either to stay in England, work and play in like the fifth tier and try and work my way up, or try and come out to America. I had my heart set on that, and got a scholarship offer from Wingate University in North Carolina after my English team played at a President’s Day tournament in Phoenix.
- Wingate was definitely a lot different than what I was used to. I didn’t even know where the college was located before I started, I didn’t really know what I was in for, so once I got there it was a lot different. One of the good things that helped me was that we had a big freshmen class and a lot of them were from England and Ireland, so we had a good core group of close friends so I didn’t feel too far away from home.
- In college I picked up the nickname “Dutch.” I guess Mulholland was just too long of a name for everyone to keep calling me in training, so one of my friends just started calling me “Dutch” because of the “Holland” in my name. It just stuck. The majority of my college friends would still refer as Dutch.
- My first year as a pro with [Wilmington Hammerheads] in USL in 2011 I was making peanuts money, so I asked for a second job. The head coach there put me in touch with the woman who owned the postgame pub where everyone would go to and also owned a law firm across the street. So I started working at the pub as a waiter and a bartender, and then one of the secretaries over at the law firm quit, so she asked me if I could be a secretary. I said sure and I was a lawyer’s secretary/bartender/soccer player for a couple of months, so that was interesting.
- It would’ve been nice to after my first year at Wilmington if I could’ve made the jump to MLS. It was a bit unfortunate actually, because after I got done with Wilmington I was going to go to Philadelphia Union for a Reserve League game. My PDL coach was an assistant coach there at the time so he was keen on getting me in and the head coach was too, but then they had a bad hurricane that weekend so the game got cancelled and I didn’t end up going. The next week Minnesota signed me for the rest of the NASL season and I ended up going there.
- Something similar ended up happening when I got done with Minnesota. My agent told me that New England wanted me to come in and practice with them for a few days. They hadn’t made the playoffs but were still training, and I had just got done in Minnesota, just won the championship and thought three days won’t hurt. I went in, but days before I got there the head coach got fired. So when I went in it was only the assistant coach. It wasn’t really anything too strenuous, but I was hoping I’d done enough to get an invite back for preseason. But after that was all said and done, they hired the new head coach and he got rid of all the backroom staff so it was like I’d never really been there. That was disappointing, but at the same time from that loan spell at Minnesota I attracted Tampa’s interest and they signed me on a one-year deal with a club option for a second season. I had a good first year there and they were keen on keeping me, so I stayed at Tampa for another year.
- I kept in touch with Jeff Attinella last year after he and I played together in Tampa in 2012. I’d check in just to see how he was doing, and he would always tell me to keep doing what I’m doing in the league. He told me that RSL was interested and then before the end of the season my agent told me that there was a discovery rights claim on me from RSL. So I knew they were interested, and I was obviously delighted with that. Over the offseason we were able to come to an agreement on a contract and I came in for preseason in January and felt right at home ever since.
- I’ve definitely been delighted with my start to the season. To get in the first game at LA, coming off the bench as the first sub and getting a taste for it, and obviously 10 minutes into the game scoring a goal, it would’ve been a dream start, but it is what it is now. It’s still baffling in regards to how that goal got disallowed, but I was just over the moon from the support from the fans that got into it and welcomed me to the club. That we got the win as well on the road, it was a great feeling to start the season off. Then getting the goal last week felt like a just reward after the first week.
- I don’t know that there was any inspiration behind my celebration after scoring. Obviously I enjoy playing my football and the best part about playing football is scoring goals, so I enjoy them when I do score. That was just a little dance that I’ve been doing recently in my celebrations so I thought I’d bust it out. And obviously we have [Joao] Plata and [Olmes] Garcia and they always like to dance so I feel comfortable around them, just showing them what my moves are or whatever, so it was all fun.
- I was very surprised with the big ovation I got at the fan event at Scheels this week. Completely delighted, very glad that the fans there were very welcoming to me. It means a lot you know, especially as a new player on the team. Coming from Tampa we had big huge support there, and it was sad to leave, but at the same time it was very exciting to move on up. The fact that the fans have been so great and warmed to me already has made it even better, and I’m really looking forward to getting out in front of them this Saturday.
MLSsoccer.com’s Scott Pierce updated Real Salt Lake’s injury situation on Wednesday, writing up a piece off of RSL Head Coach Jeff Cassar’s Tuesday media availability.
First, the good news: RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando is a go for Saturday’s home opener against LA Galaxy after having some back issues last weekend at San Jose.
Now, the bad: Claret-and-Cobalt midfielder Sebastian Velasquez and defender Aaron Maund will both miss the match due to hamstring injuries. Forwards Robbie Findley – recovering from surgery – and Devon Sandoval – rehabbing a preseason foot injury – will also miss the match.
RSL’s questionable contingent includes midfield maestro Javier Morales, defender Chris Schuler, defender Kwame Watson-Siriboe and midfielder Jordan Allen. Morales missed Saturday’s draw at San Jose with a back injury, Schuler is coming back from offseason surgery and has yet to play this year, Watson-Siriboe is recovering from a torn ACL suffered last summer and Allen hurt his ankle in an appearance off the bench at San Jose.
Cassar expanded on RSL’s health situation on “The Bill & Hans Show” on ESPN 700 on Tuesday afternoon, talking to Hans Olsen and fill-in host Keith Stubbs at the club’s Meet the Team event from Scheels in Sandy.
You can listen to Cassar’s full interview here. Here’s what he had to say regarding the club’s injuries:
On the injury situation as a whole:
“They’re all progressing. I think Sebastian Velasquez maybe took a step backwards, he kind of re-aggravated his hamstring while training with the guys that didn’t travel [to San Jose last weekend], but all the other ones are progressing. Whether they’ll be available or not we’ll have to evaluate that in the next few days.”
On Nick Rimando and Aaron Maund:
“Nicky’s feeling great. He just had a spasm that tightened up during the game, but he’s feeling fantastic. He did great in training today. Aaron has a hamstring pull, he’s probably day to day, but I’d say it’s not looking good for him this weekend.”
On whether having this many injuries is rare this early in the season:
“A lot of them are things that happened last year. Chris Schuler, Devon Sandoval, Robbie Findley, they’re carrying over from [older injuries], so we’re trying to be careful. It’s a long season and we don’t want them to stay injured, so we’re trying to be careful. Robbie’s a little bit further away, but Schuler’s starting to get into full training sessions, so we’re really happy about that.”
The LA Galaxy won’t be a happy bunch at Saturday’s RSL home opener at Rio Tinto Stadium.
LA lost its CONCACAF Champions League Quarterfinal series on Tuesday night, falling 4-2 in the second leg at Mexican side Club Tijuana to drop the series 4-3 on aggregate.
LA got off to a nightmare start at Estadio Caliente, giving up three goals in the first 30 minutes to fall behind 3-1 on aggregate. The Galaxy pulled within one goal when Robbie Keane put away a 47th minute free kick, but fell behind 4-2 on aggregate when Richard Ruiz scored for Tijuana in the 82nd minute. Keane pulled LA back again in the 85th, but it wasn’t enough, with LA failing to find a winner in the game’s final stages.
The CCL Quarterfinal loss adds to LA’s rough start to the season, with the Galaxy now having a Champions League loss under their belts to go along with their season opening defeat to your Claret-and-Cobalt. Real Salt Lake will look for its second win against LA on Saturday, opening its 2014 home schedule at 2:00 p.m. MT against its Western Conference rival. Get your tickets here.
Real Salt Lake will open its 2014 home schedule on Saturday, when the LA Galaxy will come to Rio Tinto Stadium for a 2:00 p.m. kickoff.
The Galaxy aren’t worried about Saturday’s match just yet, however, what with the small matter of a CONCACAF Champions League Quarterfinal second leg at Mexican club Tijuana to attend to tonight. The Galaxy beat Xolos in the first leg of the series last Wednesday, topping the Baja California club 1-0 at StubHub Center.
Tonight they have a taller order: Hold off Tijuana in a hostile environment south of the border. LA will need a strong performance from its full complement of players if they’re to advance past Xolos and into the CCL Semifinals, where they would face the winner of the Sporting Kansas City-Cruz Azul series. The first leg of that series would be played on April 1, 2 or 3.
Tonight’s LA-Tijuana second leg kicks off at 8:00 p.m. MT. Watch it live on Fox Sports 2.