MLS Regular Season
Real Salt Lake’s Kyle Beckerman, Tony Beltran and Nick Rimando finally returned to Salt Lake on Thursday, coming back to the Claret-and-Cobalt after spending the last month with the U.S. national team at the CONCACAF Gold Cup and the MLS All-Stars for Wednesday’s All-Star Game.
Here are a few interesting numbers from the trio’s stint away from RSL.
Beckerman, Beltran and Rimando spent 32 days away from RSL, leaving the team on June 30 following the club’s 1-0 win at Toronto FC before returning to Salt Lake on Thursday. RSL played four matches while the trio was gone, posting a 1-2-1 record against Philadelphia, Dallas, Kansas City and New York.
Beckerman, Rimando and Beltran combined to play 1,102 minutes while away from RSL. Rimando totaled the most minutes of the trio, playing 450 minutes in the Gold Cup and 45 in Wednesday’s All-Star Game. Beckerman wasn’t far behind notching 382 minutes – and three assists – for the U.S. and starting and playing the first 45 in the ASG. Beltran totaled 180 minutes, going the full 90 in both the U.S.’s win over Cuba at Rio Tinto Stadium on July 13 and in the All-Star Game on Wednesday night.
RSL’s international/All-Star trio flew a distance of 10,954 miles over the last month. Assuming they were all non-stop, here are the nine flights KB5, Tony and Nick were on during the last month:
Toronto to San Diego; San Diego to Portland; Portland to Salt Lake City; Salt Lake City to Hartford; Hartford to Baltimore; Baltimore to Dallas; Dallas to Chicago; Chicago to Kansas City; Kansas City to Salt Lake City
That’s a lot of frequent flyer miles, all four time zones and way too many hotel rooms.
Between Sunday’s Gold Cup Final, Wednesday’s All-Star Game, Saturday’s MLS match at Colorado and Wednesday’s U.S. Open Cup match against Portland, Beckerman and Rimando – Beltran is suspended for this weekend’s Rocky Mountain Cup match – will be eligible to play in four different competitions in a span of just 11 days.
When Beckerman, Beltran and Rimando left RSL after the team’s 1-0 win at Toronto, RSL was in first-place in MLS. Despite two-straight losses, that’s exactly where the Claret-and-Cobalt stand now, with three of the team’s top players returning to the fold.
Real Salt Lake hasn't been at its best in the 2013 Rocky Mountain Cup Presented by Mark Miller Subaru, tying the rival Rapids 1-1 in the home opener at Rio Tinto Stadium on March 16 before falling 1-0 at Colorado on April 6.
The Claret-and-Cobalt's 0-1-1 mark in the 2013 Rocky Mountain Cup has the team in a tough spot, with the Utah side needing to win - and only a win - at Dick's Sporting Goods Park on Saturday to retain its seventh-straight RMC.
RSL's fantastic videographer Nick Lamping put together a solid recap of the first two Rocky Mountain Cup matches of 2013. Give it a watch above - and get that blood boiling for Saturday's 6:30 p.m. kick.
Real Salt Lake will head to Denver this weekend for Saturday's crucial Rocky Mountain Cup Presented by Mark Miller Subaru match at the rival Colorado Rapids.
RSL sits squarely behind the eight-ball in the battle for the 2013 Rocky Mountain Cup, needing a win on Saturday at Dick's Sporting Goods Park in order to keep the RMC for the seventh-straight year.
The last time the Claret-and-Cobalt was this close to losing the Rocky Mountain Cup was in 2010, when the Rapids - needing a win to take the Cup - led the Utah side 2-0 in the dying moments of the regular season finale. The Colorado colors were already attached to the trophy when Real Salt Lake forward Alvaro Saborio brought the Claret-and-Cobalt all the way back, scoring twice in stoppage time to give RSL the draw and the Cup.
Yes, Marcelo, soccer is indeed a cruel game.
Real Salt Lake forward Alvaro Saborio netted his third career RSL hat trick on Saturday, putting in three in the Claret-and-Cobalt's 4-3 loss at the New York Red Bulls. Saborio's outstanding performance led to the MLS Player of the Week award, a MLS Goal of the Week nomination and a spot on the FIFA Ultimate Team of the Week.
Check out video of all nine goals from Sabo's three RSL hat tricks - last year against Portland, last year at Chivas USA and Saturday at New York - above.
Real Salt Lake will travel to Denver this weekend, taking on the Colorado Rapids on Saturday at Dick's Sporting Goods Park in the deciding game of the 2013 Rocky Mountain Cup Presented by Mark Miller Subaru.
The Rapids - who got a little weird ahead of the April 6 match between the sides - started the hype machine for Saturday's match on Monday, calling their fans to "Defend the Fortress" by releasing the above video.
— Colorado Rapids (@ColoradoRapids) July 29, 2013
We thought the phrasing was a little bit odd. Guess the Rapids don't know that Rio Tinto Stadium is The Original Fortress.
— Real Salt Lake (@RealSaltLake) July 29, 2013
— Sam Stejskal (@samstejskal) July 29, 2013
— Real Salt Lake (@RealSaltLake) July 29, 2013
Despite getting three goals from Alvaro Saborio, Real Salt Lake lost in stoppage time for the second consecutive match on Saturday, falling 4-3 at the New York Red Bulls.
Here are a few interesting numbers from Saturday’s match:
Real Salt Lake forward Alvaro Saborio scored three goals on Saturday, completing his third career MLS hat trick with a fantastic goal in the 82nd minute. After Saturday’s performance, Saborio is now first in MLS among players with more than 207 minutes played with 0.85 goals per 90 minutes.
Saborio has seven goals on only thirteen shots on target this year, good for an insane scoring percentage of 53.8 percent.
Real Salt Lake was whistled for 28 total fouls on Saturday, the team’s highest total of the season. The previous high for the club was 17 fouls committed in the June 1 match against the San Jose Earthquakes.
New York Red Bulls midfielder Dax McCarty scored the game-winning goal in the 94th minute of play, marking the second consecutive match where RSL has give up a go-ahead goal in stoppage time.
Real Salt Lake forward Joao Plata’s well-timed pass – resulting in Saborio’s third goal of the match – marked Plata’s sixth assist of the season. Plata is now tied for seventh in the league in assists.
With 6 shots on goal against New York on Saturday, the Claret-and-Cobalt increased their average shots on goal to 5.5 per game, tops in the league. The Montreal Impact are a distant second, at 5.25 shots on goal per game – an overall gap of 16 shots on target.
Despite having lost consecutive matches, Real Salt Lake maintains the best goal differential in the league, with a differential of +12.
For the second consecutive week, a match featuring Real Salt Lake resulted in a total of seven yellow cards. Saturday’s match also marked the second straight match where an RSL player has been shown a yellow card within the first five minutes of play.
With the completion of the Gold Cup, the Claret-and-Cobalt no longer be without the services of goalkeeper Nick Rimando, midfielder Kyle Beckerman and defender Tony Beltran, giving the team zero players out on international duty. Due to a red card suspension, however, Beltran will miss the Aug. 3 match at the Colorado Rapids.
Real Salt Lake will look to bounce back from last weekend’s tough loss to Sporting Kansas City this Saturday, when it will take on the New York Red Bulls at 5:00 p.m. MT on ABC 4 at Red Bull Arena.
Here are a few storylines to watch ahead of Saturday’s contest:
RSL v, Jamison Olave, Fabian Espindola and Jonny Steele
Saturday’s match will pit the Claret-and-Cobalt against former RSL men Jamison Olave, Fabian Espindola and Jonny Steele. Olave and Espindola were dealt to New York this offseason in the same December trade, while Steele signed with the Red Bulls after RSL declined to pick up his option. The trio spent a combined 12 seasons with the Claret-and-Cobalt, with Olave and Espindola playing huge roles on the 2009 MLS Cup winning side and on the team that advanced to the final of the 2011 CONCACAF Champions League.
Return of Sabo
Star forward Alvaro Saborio will be available to make his return to the RSL lineup this weekend after playing just twice since April 20 due to a combination of international call-ups and injury. Saborio was most recently with the Costa Rican national team for the CONCACAF Gold Cup, re-joining RSL earlier this week after Los Ticos were eliminated by Honduras in the tournament’s quarterfinals on Sunday.
Real Salt Lake faces another top Eastern Conference team
Saturday’s match is RSL’s fourth-consecutive against a team in playoff position, and third time this month that it will face a top Eastern Conference side after taking on Philadelphia and Kansas City earlier in July. The Red Bulls currently sit in third-place in the East with 32 points from a 9-7-5 record.
A backline without Beltran and Wingert
Saturday’s game will mark the first-time in 74 games across all competitions that RSL will play without both Tony Beltran and Chris Wingert. Beltran is unavailable while with the U.S. national team for Gold Cup duty, while Wingert is out while serving the first game of a two game suspension.
Getting back on track
The loss Saturday night against Sporting Kansas City was Real Salt Lake’s first in 12 matches across all competitions. The last loss, prior to Saturday, was a 3-2 loss against the Montreal Impact on May 11 in Montreal.
18-year-old forward Benji Lopez signed a Homegrown contract with RSL last week. His welcome to the team? This unicorn mohawk, courtesy of midfielder Sebastian "Ruffio" Velasquez.
— SeBasTian VeLasQueZ (@TiaN_Futbol) July 24, 2013
Has to be one of the roughest cuts I've ever seen. Yikes. Credit to Javier Morales for calling for the clippers, Lalo Fernandez for the unique idea, and the one-and-only Seba Velasquez for the execution.
— SeBasTian VeLasQueZ (@TiaN_Futbol) July 25, 2013
Real Salt Lake will face off against former Claret-and-Cobalt players Fabian Espindola, Jamison Olave and Jonny Steele for the first time this Saturday, when RSL will take on the trio's New York Red Bulls at 5:00 p.m. MT at Red Bull Arena on ABC 4.
RSL Head Coach Jason Kreis, defender Nat Borchers and midfielder Ned Grabavoy have already shared their thoughts on going up against the former RSL men. On Thursday, Espindola and Steele spoke to NewYorkRedBulls.com about facing off against their former team.
"It's going to be special," Espindola said. "I know that they're a great team. They're going to play and be a tough team to beat."
"Everything about Real Salt Lake was good for me," he continued. "I have a lot of good things from my time there and I'm grateful for that team."
Steele - who made his MLS debut as a member of RSL against the Red Bulls on March 17, 2012 - was also complimentary of the Claret-and-Cobalt.
"Salt Lake is a small franchise but they do things right and things are professional," he said. "All around they've got great coaches and they've been succesful."
Espindola is particularly looking forward to the on-field battle between Olave and RSL maestro Javier Morales on Saturday.
"I was just joking with [Olave] about how I'm going to laugh when I watch him and [Javier Morales] fighting," he said. "That's going to be funny.
- The last couple of weeks have been pretty hectic after getting my first games. A lot of my friends that I haven’t talked to in a while have been reaching out to me, I had my parents fly in last minute for the Sporting KC game, my in-laws came in, so it’s been pretty hectic, but it’s been fun too. I didn’t want to go the whole season and not feel like I was a part of the team and didn’t contribute in any way, so to get the opportunity to contribute is something that I’ve really appreciated.
- After I made my debut in the Dallas game it was pretty wild. Leading up to Kansas City I was just doing my best to kind of focus. I was on edge a little bit all week and I think I got my wife pretty annoyed with me, but it’s starting to settle in. This week I definitely feel a lot more comfortable; I’m not on pins and needles this week the way I was last week.
- It was tough not getting any games for four or five months and then getting thrown in there. I mean it still is tough; I have big shoes to fill with Nick and Josh. It’s kind of funny because I hadn’t been playing much in Reserve games either, so I hadn’t really gotten many minutes at all and just to get my first 90 minutes with RSL against a MLS team in a game where its first-place vs. first-place, sold-out stadium, and then to have everything go the way it did and the end to happen the way it did, I feel like I experienced at least five months worth of emotion in about 90 minutes.
- While it’s definitely been pretty crazy, I’m just appreciative that the staff trusts me enough to throw me into that situation. To be able to contribute to the team in a positive manner – which I feel like I’ve done so far – is something I’ve really, really appreciated.
- The support from the fans has definitely been incredible. I think coming in at Dallas and making a great save probably had something to do with that, because I can’t imagine the expectations were that high originally. But the team support as well has been really what has been helping me get through this. Nick has been reaching out to me a bunch, telling me to keep calm and play my game. Josh has been really supportive as well, which is obviously tough in his situation. And all the teammates have really shown a lot of faith in me. That they feel comfortable with me back there means everything. The support from really the whole RSL family has been pretty incredible, actually.
- Where I was in preseason and where I am now I think that I’m such a better ‘keeper. A lot of that is a credit to Nick and Josh, just watching them train, picking their brains every chance I can. Obviously working with [Goalkeeper Coach Jeff Cassar] has been great as well, but to be able to see these two guys up close and personal every day for five months, I’ve learned so much from them.
- We’re obviously in a pretty weird goalie situation here with four goalies on the roster. Josh has been a starter in this league for a long time, Nick is obviously the best goalie in the league and then there’s Lalo and I, so the goalkeeper situation I think had a chance to be pretty awkward and unsupportive because everyone’s competing for a certain spot. Thankfully, it’s been the opposite of that and I think that speaks really highly to the type of people that Nick and Josh both are.
- Honestly, coming out of college, I thought not making RSL and going to the minors was a huge setback. You don’t really know how hard it is to make it to this level right out of school. I was first-team All-American my junior year, I went overseas a couple of times and did really well, so I thought things were going to come pretty easy, to be honest and to go down to the minors right away and get drafted in the Supplemental Draft and not taken on the first day was a huge wakeup call. But it was a blessing in disguise. I went down to the Tampa Bay Rowdies and got 50+ games and gained a ton of experience. Obviously I got to stay in my hometown for two extra years, and that was awesome – playing professional soccer in your hometown, it doesn’t really get any better than that. So it was huge, I owe the NASL and the Rowdies a lot. Being able to get those games, playing one or two games every week for eight months was huge for my experience and I really think that it helped me get to the point I am now, even if just in the fact that I feel comfortable in the net in a game situation. The game Saturday was probably my 60th career professional game including the NASL; it’s a lot different when you’re playing in your 60th compared to if that was my first start as a pro.
- I’m a huge Tampa Bay sports fan, so any chance I get I’m watching those teams in action. I have a Slingbox hooked up to the TV in my parents’ house, so I’ve been watching a lot of Rays baseball. I’m also spending a lot of time taking my dog to different trails and things like that. I’m trying to get a little bit of Utah life, the whole outdoors life, see what that’s like. Off the field, I just spend a lot of time with my wife. When the guys are getting together, I hang out with the guys, a lot of the single guys, so I’m sure my wife appreciates that. But I’ve just been trying to dive into Utah and getting used to how life is out here.
- I listen to all kinds of music; really it depends on my mood. But I am a country fan and I was 100 percent planning on going to go the Jason Aldean concert this weekend at Rio Tinto Stadium. I went to that concert actually twice in Tampa and had a great time. Obviously I’d rather be in New York with the team, though, and I’m happy I’ll be there this Saturday. But when I saw Jason Aldean coming and that we were away I was pretty excited about getting the chance to see him again. The plan is for my wife to go and take some videos for me, though.