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Real Salt Lake

12 July 9:48 am

Real Salt Lake Captain Kyle Beckerman will take the field at Rio Tinto Stadium on Saturday for the U.S. in its Gold Cup Group C match against Cuba. The Claret-and-Cobalt captain tweeted out a bit of a call to arms to fans on Thursday, inquiring about a possible USA remix to RSL’s famous “Believe” anthem. 

Beckerman is one of four players who will be at the RioT for Gold Cup action on Saturday. Claret-and-Cobalt defender Tony Beltran and goalkeeper Nick Rimando will also suit up for the U.S., while forward Alvaro Saborio will captain Costa Rica in its match against Belize. U.S.-Cuba kicks off at 1:30 p.m. MT, while Costa Rica-Cuba will begin at 4:00 p.m. MT. Click here to get your tickets

12 July 8:42 am

As told to Sam Stejskal

  1. I come from a family of soccer players. My Dad played for Atlas in Mexico before a knee injury ended his career. My great-grandfather played for Chivas Guadalajara, and they won like six titles in a row while he was there.  My Dad’s uncle, Hugo Salcedo, actually played for the U.S. at the 1972 Olympic Games. Editor’s Note: Jorge Salcedo – Hugo Salcedo’s son and Carlos’s first-cousin, once removed – played in MLS from 1996-2000, earned three caps with the U.S. national team and is the current head coach at UCLA. Jorge Salcedo coached current RSL defender Tony Beltran at UCLA in 2006 and 2007.
  2. When I was younger, I played for Chivas [Guadalajara’s] academy. I spent two years there, but eventually moved to Tigres’s youth team when [current Chivas Sporting Director] Dennis Te Kloese moved from Chivas to Tigres. I was at Tigres for almost three years. While I was there, we went to Dallas Cup, and that’s where [RSL-Arizona Academy Director of Soccer] Martin Vasquez scouted me and invited me to come see RSL. At that time, I didn’t have a contract, and didn’t want to re-sign with Tigres, so then I decided to go to the RSL-Arizona Academy and try something new. 
  3. My Dad and Martin have actually known each other for a long time. They got to know each other at Atlas; when my Dad retired, Martin was just getting to the team.  When I got here, that’s when my Dad said that he knew a coach at RSL.
  4. I was at the RSL-Arizona Academy for about eight months.  The academy was good.  Basically, you wake up, go to school, and after that you have everything you need to become a soccer player. You have daily practices, weight-lifting, you have such a great coaching staff – it’s pretty big-time.
  5. After I graduated from the Academy last summer, I had offers from three Mexican teams – one of them was Santos Laguna. But I spoke with my Dad and my agent, and I didn’t want to go down to the same atmosphere down in Mexico. I wanted to try something else here in MLS, so I came here last July and began practicing with the team.
  6. Coach Jason [Kreis] believed in me, and I think that was a big step for me to take this chance – if the coach believes in you, that’s a good point for you.  That’s what made me come here.  [General Manager] Garth Lagerwey also was here to talk to me, and I think that was good for me. But what really was huge was already practicing with the team for six months and playing in Reserve games last year.
  7. My life changed a lot this year, because I’ve been getting playing time with the first-team.  At the beginning of the preseason, they were telling me that I would be playing on the Reserve team, but when RSL first told me that I’d be playing, I was excited that I got the opportunity.  I’d like to thank Garth, Bill, all those guys that helped me to become a better soccer player, and made my dream come true.
  8. I think I’ve been getting more and more experience each game I’m playing, and I think it’s a hard league.  It’s going to help me get to the next step; to my next goal, which is going to Europe.  I think MLS is a good league for defenders, because you get to play against hungry, big-time players like Keane, Henry, Martins and others that have already made a career [in Europe].  You see really good young players, too. 
  9. [RSL goalkeeper] Lalo Fernandez and I used to be roommates, but I moved out like a month ago.  It was a good experience, but now I think that we’ve decided to go separate ways, and that’s good at the end of the day.  We’re still good friends – he’s one of my best friends – and nothing has changed.  It was a good experience to live with another player, hanging out with him every day.  Right now I live with a family that I met over here last year.  They’re from Colombia, and I like it a lot to live with them.  They’re such a good family, and they’re supportive of me.
  10. I love Utah.  I like that everything is super-chill.  For me, I’m not the type of player who likes to go out in crazy cities and all those things.  I love living here, and I want to live here after I retire.
11 July 10:57 pm

Real Salt Lake reserve goalkeeper Lalo Fernandez made his pro debut on Thursday night, going the full 90 and making two saves in Phoenix FC's 1-0 win over Antigua Barracuda at Sun Devil Soccer Stadium. 

Fernandez traveled to Phoenix on Tuesday afternoon, training with the Wolves on Wednesday before earning the shutout on Thursday night. The 20-year-old RSL-Arizona Academy graduate will now return to the Claret-and-Cobalt. 

Fernandez could very well return to Phoenix for more games later this year.

10 July 9:52 am

RSL-Arizona Academy PR ace Garrett Cleverly will provide us with periodic updates from the Casa Grande Academy. Garrett's latest update is below - Follow him and the Grande Sports Academy on Twitter and check the Grande Sports Academy blogFacebook page and Instagram for all the latest info on RSL's youth development program.

10 July 9:35 am

Portland's fans unveiled quite the tifo for Tuesday night's U.S.-Belize Gold Cup match, unfurling several huge banners and a green, "Cascadia" Uncle Sam just prior to the start of the Stars-and-Stripes' 6-1 Group C win at Jeld-Wen Field. 

You know by now that the U.S. is coming to Rio Tinto Stadium on Saturday for a Group C doubleheader. RSL's Kyle Beckerman, Tony Beltran, Nick Rimando and the rest of Jurgen Klinsmann's side will take on Cuba at 1:00 p.m. MT, with Claret-and-Cobalt forward Alvaro Saborio and Costa Rica playing Belize immediately afterwards at 4:00 p.m. The game will be a great chance - the second one this summer, of course - for Salt Lake fans to put a unique stamp on a national team match. Portland did it last night - let's get after it in our own way on Saturday.  

09 July 10:35 pm

Real Salt Lake midfielder Kyle Beckerman dropped an absolute dime on the U.S.'s second goal in Tuesday's Gold Cup Group C opener against Belize, curling a beauty of a cross into San Jose forward Chris Wondolowski for a headed goal in Portland. 

Check out Kyle's gorgeous cross above. Some Twitter love for the Claret-and-Cobalt captain is below: 

09 July 4:27 pm

The latest "Soccer Smarts with Professor Leo" dropped earlier on Tuesday. Give it a watch and learn all you need to know about the CONCACAF Gold Cup, which will come to Rio Tinto Stadium on Saturday, when the U.S. takes on Cuba at 1:30 p.m. and Costa Rica faces off against Belize at 4:00 p.m. in a Group C doubleheader at the Sandy facility.

RSL Captain Kyle Beckerman (U.S.), defender Tony Beltran (U.S.), goalkeeper Nick Rimando (U.S.) and forward Alvaro Saborio (Costa Rica) will all be available for selection on Saturday. Click here to get your tickets

08 July 12:43 pm

Currently with the U.S. national team on Gold Cup duty, Real Salt Lake captain Kyle Beckerman and goalkeeper Nick Rimando did an interview with Fox Soccer on Sunday. Part of that interview? Take 20 seconds to draw a picture of the other.

Kyle's drawing of Nick is on the left, while Nick's picture of Kyle is on the right. Check the artwork out on U.S. Soccer's Instagram and above. 

08 July 10:47 am

We're at just about the halfway mark of the 2013 season and midseason awards columns are starting to roll out. 

ESPN FC's Jeff Carlisle's gave RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando some love in his awards column on Monday morning, naming the veteran 'keeper his MLS Goalkeeper of the Year. Nice call, Jeff: Amongst goalkeepers with at least 10 starts, Rimando leads the league in save percentage, wins and goals against average and is near the top in shutouts and saves. 

Of course, Rimando brings much more than solid numbers to RSL. As Carlisle points out: 

"The veteran netminder's contribution transcends mere numbers. RSL's rebuilding project saw the departure of former Defender of the Year Jamison Olave while injuries to Kwame Watson-Siriboe and Chris Schuler have also prevented RSL from fielding anything remotely resembling a consistent backline. All of which points to Rimando's experience and organization in keeping RSL among the league's defensive leaders."

Currently with the U.S. national team, Rimando will return to RSL following the conclusion of the CONCACAF Gold Cup at the end of July. He'll likely be in action at Rio Tinto Stadium with the U.S. squad this Saturday, when the Americans will take on Cuba at 1:30 p.m. in the first match of a Gold Cup doubleheader that will see RSL forward Alvaro Saborio and Costa Rica take on Belize at the RioT at 4:00 p.m. Get your tickets to the Gold Cup doubleheader here

02 July 5:07 pm

On the back of a match struck by experimentation, Jason Kreis's side has been hit once again by international absences. Heading into tomorrow's match against the Philadelphia Union, the concerns weigh on the mind, but solid squad depth should play an easing role.

The 4-3-3: Did it work?

When we take a look back at last weekend, we will rightly wonder if the switch to a 4-3-3 worked. It's a difficult question to answer with the sort of win we found, as it wasn't particularly a win that was down to the system. That said, we saw that it has some potential, particularly in pushing players in wide areas. It did lack a bit of thrust from the midfield, and the strikers were increasingly isolated; whether this is down to a systemic issue or to personnel is difficult to say without further evidence.

That noted, we're not likely to see it again tomorrow unless we're making a second-half adjustment. It would be reasonable to assume that Jason Kreis wasn't looking to change the diamond, but to explore other options for adjustments as needed.

Absence makes the heart grow something-something

Four incredibly important players will be absent for this match and for a few more: Nick Rimando, Tony Beltran, Kyle Beckerman, and Alvaro Saborio are all off with international absences, and when you're missing four crucial players, things get — shall we say — tricky. Continuity becomes an issue, as does a drop-off in performance. But critically, some tactical decisions will be involved as well.

Josh Saunders may be a fine goalkeeper, but Nick Rimando is superb when playing with a high-line defense in front of him, as he is quick and good with his feet. Saunders is less of both of those things, though he is certainly a good shot-stopper. A bit more caution from the defenders will be necessitated, and perhaps this will force the defensive midfielder to sit back a little further to allow less room to exploit.

Yordany Alvarez, who will almost certainly be in for Beckerman, lacks the vision and precision of Beckerman, but his break-up play is superb, and he's not a slouch in attack. With him dropping back, the outside midfielders will need to tuck in a bit more, and the full backs will need to push a bit more forward to snuff out wide play.

Saborio's absence certainly affects the attack, but as importantly as anything, he serves as an escape for the midfield and defense in difficult situations. While he may lose the ball from a high-risk pass, his position higher up the pitch obviates much of the risk faced when the opposition receives the ball in dangerous positions. Without him in the side, the ball is more likely to be played to strikers in wide positions, which are more difficult to attack from for a side like ours.

Patching the holes

Those absences aren't damning. Saunders, Palmer and Alvarez should slot in rather naturally, even if things change as a result. All permutations of our striking pairs are now tested and have their positives and negatives, so Saborio's absence is not nearly so worrying. The defense is solidifying after a fine performance from Aaron Maund. It's all getting there — but while we're patching holes, we want to be succeeding through the summer glut.

regular contributor to RealSaltLake.com, Matt Montgomery runs the SB Nation blog RSL Soapbox. Follow Matt on Twitter @TheCrossbarRSL