The latest MLS Insider chronicles the return of several U.S. World Cup players to their MLS clubs - capturing the adulation, media hype, and players' reflections on the tournament and the sport's progress at home. The Insider crew captured the return of RSL Captain Kyle Beckerman and veteran goalkeeper Nick Rimando to Real Salt Lake. Watch the well-done video above.
Real Salt Lake hits the road on Saturday, taking on Western Conference rival LA Galaxy at StubHub Center at 8:30 p.m. MT. Saturday’s match will be broadcast live on CW30, ESPN 700 and 102.3 La Gran D FM.
Here are a few storylines to watch ahead of Saturday’s clash:
Real Salt Lake looks to go undefeated v. LA in 2014 regular season
Saturday’s match in California will be the third and final regular season meeting between RSL and LA Galaxy. The two sides met twice in March this year with the claret-and-Cobalt pulling off a 1-0 win in its season opener at StubHub Center on March 8, and then drawing 1-1 two weeks later at Rio Tinto Stadium. If RSL gets a positive result this weekend, it will mark only the second time in Claret-and-Cobalt history that RSL has gone undefeated in the regular season against LA.
Nick Rimando in pursuit of the all-time MLS shutout record
Real Salt Lake veteran goalkeeper Nick Rimando is one clean sheet away from tying retired goalkeeper Kevin Hartman for the all-time MLS shutout record with 112. If the 35-year-old ties the record this weekend, Rimando will have as many cleans sheets as Hartman in 60-less games. Hartman achieved 112 shutouts through 416 games played; Rimando has currently played 355 MLS regular season games. The California native will likely surpass the record this year, with 17 MLS matches left to play in the 2014 regular season.
Morales and Donovan look to continue success against each other
RSL’s Javier Morales and LA’s Landon Donovan have torched each other’s teams in their MLS careers. Morales has put up five goals and eight assists in 16 career regular season games against the Galaxy. Those numbers are impressive, but Donovan has done Javi one better, registering nine goals and nine assists with LA in 20 career regular season games against RSL. Donovan’s nine goals and nine assists are the second-most against RSL of any player in MLS history in both categories.
Beckerman and Rimando remain undefeated in 2014 MLS play
RSL Captain Kyle Beckerman and goalkeeper Nick Rimando are still currently undefeated in MLS play in 2014. The U.S. international duo left for World Cup duty after the club’s 5-2 win at Houston Dynamo on May 11, and up until that point the Claret-and-Cobalt were still undefeated in MLS play. Upon the duo’s return to Salt Lake last Friday, RSL pulled off a 2-1 victory over New England Revolution to keep RSL undefeated in 2014 when both players are in the lineup. Beckerman’s only defeat this entire year came at the hands of Germany, in the U.S.’s 1-0 loss in the group stage of the World Cup. Even if the club is no longer undefeated (RSL went 1-3-2 in their absence) Beckerman and Rimando can still keep their individual streak alive this weekend.
RSL and USMNT goalkeeper and Southern California native Nick Rimando got a little bit of love from one of the biggest stars in baseball on Friday, as LA Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig donned The Wall of the Wasatch’s U.S. shirt for a TwitPic.
— yasielpuig (@YasielPuig) June 13, 2014
A Cuban defector, Puig is killing it for the Dodgers this year, sitting near the top of MLB in several major statistical categories. We won’t question his judgment too much – he is one of the most electric players in baseball – but he might want to take that Rimando shirt a size up. Smedium’s totally played out.
Rimando, RSL teammate Kyle Beckerman and the rest of the U.S. squad will begin their World Cup on Monday, taking on Ghana in a critical Group G match at 4:00 p.m. MT on ESPN. Check out our #RSLBrazil section for front-to-back coverage of that match as well as the rest of the World Cup.
The Salt Lake Tribune's RSL beat writer Chris Kamrani made his TV debut last night, joining ABC 4’s Real Sports Live. The RSL writer gave some interesting and keen insight into RSL’s dramatic 3-2 win over Chicago. Kamrani also shared his take on how RSL should respond when its likely World Cup bound players, Alvaro Saborio, Kyle Beckerman and Nick Rimando, head off to Brazil. Check out the segment above.
Ever wonder what it's like to be on a RSL away trip?
Check out the above video - graciously shot by RSL fan Taylor Fugate during the Claret-and-Cobalt's recent trip to Portland - to get a good picture of what life is like on the road for traveling RSL supporters.
Real Salt Lake and Seattle Sounders FC don't have the longest history, but - despite its relative brevity - the rivarly between the Claret-and-Cobalt and the Rave Green is full of great moments. Saturday's match between the two Western Conference powers figures to be another solid meeting. Until then, enjoy these four "Signature Moments" in the RSL-Seattle series.
March 30, 2013: Luis Gil scores a fantastic diving header in RSL's 2-1 win over Seattle at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Nov. 2, 2012: Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando turned in a performance for the ages in RSL's scoreless draw at Seattle in the first leg of the 2012 Western Conference Semifinals, making incredible stop after incredible stop - even after suffering a broken nose in the second half - to keep the clean sheet.
Nick had so many good stops in the game that we thought it'd be unfair to single out just one. The full highlights - featuring all of Rimando's fantastic stops - are below:
Nov. 2, 2011: Tony Beltran had one of the best goal-line clearances we've ever seen in the second leg of RSL's Western Conference Semifinal series against Seattle, acrobatically heading away a Jeff Parke volley to keep the game scoreless. The Claret-and-Cobalt went on to lose the match 2-0, but advance past Seattle and into the West Final 3-2 on aggregate.
Oct. 29, 2011: RSL ran rampant in the first leg of the 2011 West semis against Seattle, downing the Sounders 3-0 at Rio Tinto Stadium to take a hefty lead into the series' second leg. Alvaro Saborio had the first two goals for the Claret-and-Cobalt - his second was particulary impressive, with the Costa Rican striker showing just how skilled he is with an incredible back-heeled goal.