Blog

MLS Regular Season

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:

STATS
Javier Morales (RSL) 527 min.
Pedro Morales (VAN) 472 min.
Chances created (incl. assists)
15
16
Chances created from open play
12
14
Chances created from set play
3
2
Passing Accuracy
79.02
79.23
Passing accuracy in opp. half
76.69
75.82
Passing accuracy in final third
66.43
65.15
Passes into final third
60
75
Successful crosses/corners
8
12

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.

18 April 3:50 pm

Real Salt Lake will renew its rivalry with the Portland Timbers on Saturday night, welcoming Will Johnson, Caleb Porter and co. into Rio Tinto Stadium for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff.

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

RSL looks to stay unbeaten in 2014

Last weekend’s results left RSL as the lone remaining unbeaten in MLS. Currently sitting at 2-0-4, the Claret-and-Cobalt will be looking to pick up the full three points on Saturday – the first of four home games in RSL’s next six matches – after drawing its last two matches.

Can RSL stay hot against Portland?

A lot has been said about RSL’s dominant history against Portland, and rightfully so. RSL enters Saturday’s match on a 10-game unbeaten run against the Timbers, not having lost to the Cascadia side since the first-ever meeting between the sides, way back in April 2011. The Claret-and-Cobalt was particularly strong against the Timbers in 2013, notching a 4-0-2 record against Portland in all competitions, including a perfect 3-0-0 mark at Rio Tinto Stadium. The Claret-and-Cobalt didn’t lack for goals against the Timbers in 2013, with nine different players scoring a total of 14 goals against the Oregon club in the six meetings across all competitions between the clubs.

Morales and Saborio look to continue success against Timbers

No Real Salt Lake players have as successful a history against Portland as Javier Morales and Alvaro Saborio. The dynamic attacking duo has killed the Timbers, with Saborio registering seven goals and one assist in seven career games against Portland and Morales notching four goals and five assists in 10 career matches against the Cascadia club. 

17 April 3:24 pm

"Beckerman's a python, and Bradley's a cobra. One helps his side sort of strangle a game incrementally, and the other one can mesmerize you and figure out exactly where to strike. Either way, you're dead." 

-Graham Parker, writer at Grantland and The Guardian

Kyle Beckerman and Michael Bradley: Two of the best central midfielders in MLS, U.S. Men's National Team teammates and stars of Kick TV's most recent MLS Insider piece, "Pair of Aces." 

Watch the excellent piece above. 
16 April 5:10 pm

Meetings between Real Salt Lake and Portland Timbers have never lacked for excitement, with the two teams producing open-ended, high-scoring matches ever since the Timbers joined MLS in 2011. The meetings went up a notch last year, with then-rookie Portland Head Coach Caleb Porter bringing an RSL-like possession style to the Timbers.

Real Salt Lake has had great success against the Cascadia side, posting a 7-1-3 all-time record against the Timbers across all competitions, with RSL’s sole loss coming in the teams’ first-ever encounter in April 2011. RSL and Portland had a couple of high-stakes matchups last year, meeting in the U.S. Open Cup Semifinal on Aug. 7, with the Claret-and-Cobalt pulling off a 2-1 victory to advance to the USOC Final. RSL and the Timbers then went on to meet in the 2013 Western Conference Final series, with RSL defeating Portland 4-2 in the first leg and earning a 1-0 win in the second leg on the road to advance to MLS Cup 2013. 

The team truly is the star when it comes to Real Salt Lake’s success against Portland, as nine different RSL players scored against the Timbers in 2013 alone, and 10 current Claret-and-Cobalt players have scored against Portland in their career. Not surprisingly, RSL’s most prolific scorer against Portland is forward Alvaro Saborio, who has seven goals and one assist in seven games against the Oregon side. RSL maestro Javier Morales has also been excellent against Portland, posting four goals and five assists in 10 meetings against the Timbers. And it’s not just all about the goals – seven different RSL players had assists against Portland in 2013, and eight current RSL players have assists against Portland all-time.

Let’s hope RSL can continue its unbeaten streak on Saturday and get even more Claret-and-Cobalt players on the scoreboard.

Here’s a full breakdown of current RSL players with goals and/or assists against the Timbers:

Kyle Beckerman: 1 goal, 4 assists – 9 games
Nat Borchers: 1 goal – 11 games
Robbie Findley: 2 goals, 1 assist – 6 games
Luis Gil: 1 goal, 2 assists – 9 games
Ned Grabavoy: 1 goal – 10 games
Cole Grossman: 1 goal – 1 game
Javier Morales: 4 goals, 5 assists – 10 games
Joao Plata: 1 goal, 3 assists with RSL, 1 assist with Toronto FC – 6 games
Alvaro Saborio: 7 goals, 1 assist – 7 games
Devon Sandoval: 1 goal – 2 games
Chris Schuler: 1 goal – 4 games
Chris Wingert: 1 assist – 10 games

16 April 2:42 pm

Real Salt Lake owned the Portland Timbers last year, posting a dominant 4-0-2 record in six matches across all competitions against the Cascadia club. RSL and the Timbers will face off for the first time in 2014 on Saturday, when Will Johnson, Caleb Porter and co. will come to Rio Tinto Stadium for a 7:30 p.m. MT kickoff.

The best of the six RSL-Portland games in 2013 came in the Western Conference Final series, which Real Salt Lake won 5-2 on aggregate on the back of a 4-2 win at home on Nov. 10 and a 1-0 win at Portland on Nov. 24. Highlights of those triumphant victories are below. Check them out before Saturday’s big tilt at The RioT.


First Leg: RSL 4-2 Portland


Second Leg: RSL 1-0 (5-2) Portland

15 April 4:05 pm

MLSsoccer.com is in the midst of running its "Generations" video series, a sequence of videos looking at the past, present and future of MLS's Generation adidas and Homegrown players. RSL midfielder Jordan Allen featured in the latest Generations spot, with the Rochester, N.Y. native talking about his decision to join the Claret-and-Cobalt academy, his decision to go to University of Virginia, signing with the first-team this offseason and more. 

Chicago Fire Homegrown Harrison Shipp and San Jose Homegrown Tommy Thompson are also featured in the video. It's an interesting look at three of the top young players in the league. Give it a watch above. 

15 April 11:25 am

Real Salt Lake Captain Kyle Beckerman and goalkeeper Nick Rimando recently shot a commercial with RSL partner Zions Bank, with the pair playing a little office soccer set to some Samba music.

We think the spot turned out pretty great. Give it a watch above.