Real Salt Lake
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.
Good stuff from Real Salt Lake color commentator Brian Dunseth breaking down RSL's 3-3 draw at San Jose on Sunday night's Real Sports Live on ABC 4.
Check out Dunny's take on the game above.
Real Salt Lake continues it California road trip on Saturday night, taking on Western Conference foe San Jose Earthquakes at 8:30 p.m. MT on ABC 4 at Buck Shaw Stadium.
Saturday’s match is full of interesting storylines. Here are a few to watch out for:
RSL Head Coach Jeff Cassar looks for consistency after win in debut
Newly appointed Head Coach Jeff Cassar had a great first game in charge of the Claret-and-Cobalt, shutting out LA Galaxy 1-0 at StubHub Center in the 2014 season opener. With his first win under his belt, Cassar will look for consistency from his squad as RSL faces another tough road match in San Jose. With a few starting players suffering from injuries, it will be interesting see how the team responds and whether or not it can pull out a result against a very physical and challenging San Jose side.
RSL looks to snap San Jose’s 20-game home unbeaten streak
Real Salt Lake and San Jose Earthquakes last met at Buck Shaw Stadium on March 3, 2013, with RSL beating the Bay Area side 2-0. That match marked the last defeat the Quakes suffered at home, with the “Goonies” going on a 20-game home unbeaten streak across all competitions since. RSL players and coaches didn’t seem to know San Jose’s last home defeat came at their expense but they did remark about how difficult it is to play at Buck Shaw Stadium. The atmosphere in Santa Clara is sure to be heightened on Saturday, as it is the Quakes’ 2014 MLS season opener. Hopefully, RSL can pull off a repeat of last year and keep this storyline alive.
U.S. Men’s National Team players will face off against each other
A few Real Salt Lake and San Jose Earthquakes players are more familiar with each other than most, as both squads have players that are regular members of the U.S Men’s National Team. RSL U.S. internationals, midfielder Kyle Beckerman and goalkeeper Nick Rimando, have played alongside San Jose forward Chris Wondolowski and defender Clarence Goodson for the Stars-and-Stripes frequently. Most recently, they were all included in the national team’s annual January camp a few months back, along with RSL midfielder Luis Gil, who was in his first senior camp.
Having consistently played alongside your opposition might prove helpful this Saturday with the U.S. internationals intimately knowing each other’s strengths and weaknesses. It will be interesting to see which U.S. duo comes out on top.
Will San Jose’s CCL result affect its starting lineup vs. RSL?
San Jose was able to get a 1-1 draw against Toluca in the first leg of its CONCACAF Champions League Quarterfinal series on Tuesday. With the positive result, Quakes’ Head Coach Mark Watson could give his starters a bit of a break on Saturday with his focus on the team’s second leg next Wednesday in Toluca.
Kyle Beckerman and Nick Rimando continue climbing up the record books
Real Salt Lake stalwarts Kyle Beckerman and Nick Rimando continue their climb up the MLS record books this season, with both players set to achieve more career milestones this year.
RSL’s captain, Beckerman will crack the top-10 in MLS history in games played this season. Currently on 326 games played, he needs 16 appearances to become fifth in league history in appearances, and he should set himself up for a run at the top-three in 2015. He’ll also continue his rise up the games started list. Beckerman tied Tyrone Marshall for eighth all-time in MLS history with his start against LA Galaxy last weekend. He’ll likely end 2014 in fifth in this category, as well. Look for Becks to crack the top-five in MLS history in career minutes played this season, too.
Rimando is slightly ahead of Beckerman in the aforementioned categories. Currently in fourth in league history with 347 games played, Rimando should pass Jeff Cunningham (365) for third-all time and get within touching distance of Steve Ralston (378) for second. Rimando could become the all-time leader in games played early in the 2016 season, when he could conceivably catch current leader Kevin Hartman (416). Rimando should pass Ralston for second all-time in both games started and minutes played this season.
Of course, the biggest record in play for any RSL player this year is the all-time shutout mark. Rimando is second in MLS history with 109 clean sheets, just three behind Hartman for the all-time record. Here’s hoping that deficit will be two after this weekend.
Real Salt Lake faces a difficult task on Saturday: Defeat a San Jose Earthquakes side that hasn't lost at home in over a year. Given we were the last side to beat them at home, though, we can turn our focus toward more practical matters.
Watch the long ball
We have plenty of evidence that San Jose excels in situations where they don't have long spells of possession in advance of a goal. We've seen it over and over: They'll hoist a ball into the box, have one of their rather-large men get on the end of it, cause some havoc, and score.
Bypassing our midfield is the biggest threat we face. If we don't pay heed to long, direct passing -- or long, hopeful passing, as the case may be -- we'll be forcing our defenders to deal with some of the most difficult moments they'll face in MLS. It takes only a single pass for Steven Lenhart or Alan Gordon to have a prototypical moment in the box followed by a Chris Wondolowski poached goal for the damage to be done.
This starts at the front, too: While unreasonably high pressure or over-eagerness isn't the solution, standing off the midfield and allowing them long-ball opportunities could possibly be worse.
Watch for space
Against the Galaxy, we played a more direct style generally, and it worked well for us in the end. But we found our goal in a particularly probing moment, when our forwards were given opportunities to pull defenders out of position and generally cause problems. This was against two top-quality central defenders in Omar Gonzalez and Leonardo, which speaks highly of our movement.
We'll want to do exactly the same thing on Saturday against two defenders of slightly lower quality. Clarence Goodson and Victor Bernardez, both of whom are capable, will be vulnerable to the same types of movement. With a forward corps of Joao Plata and Alvaro Saborio, there's no reason why we can't continue to perform in the same way.
Jeff Cassar's substitution patterns will understandably be subject to some scrutiny in these early weeks of his career. How we reshape to approach a match from the 60th minute forward essentially shapes our game; a poor substitution and tactical decision, and we're in a difficult spot and struggling to regain any footing we had. A good substitution, and we can turn the game on its head.
Saturday saw three smart, effective substitutions: We brought in players who are hungry for playing time, capable on the ball, and who could have an attacking impact. The Jordan Allen substitution sticks out the most: He's a fast, bright attacking player, but most importantly, he can maintain possession. We saw exactly that, and his confidence on the ball made the game slightly easier for us to win in the end.
Don't succumb to the mind games
San Jose will hack us down, they'll bash us around in the area, and all-in-all, they'll do what they can to get inside our heads. Not literally, I hope.
It's hard to call it a tactical approach, but we'll need to keep our wits about us. We've lost these matches before because we get sucked into it like it's bad reality TV -- we can't let that happen. There is, of course, something tactically meaningful about retaining all 11 players in the game.