Real Salt Lake
Most teams around the league struggle against MLS’s three Cascadian clubs. It’s not hard to see why: Seattle, Portland and Vancouver all have deep pockets, talented rosters, strong support, and play on difficult-to-deal with turf fields.
Of course, most teams around MLS aren’t Real Salt Lake.
The Claret-and-Cobalt has been dominant against the three Cascadian clubs over the last two seasons, posting a 10-2-4 record in all competitions against the Sounders, Timbers and Whitecaps since the start of 2012. RSL is unbeaten against the three sides so far this year, posting 4-0-2 record through four home games and two road matches against them in all comps.
RSL has also been very solid when playing on the road at Seattle, Portland and Vancouver, currently riding a four-game unbeaten streak in Cascadia. The Claret-and-Cobalt has a combined 2-1-4 road mark at the Sounders, Timbers and Whitecaps since the start of 2012.
Jason Kreis and Co. will put their solid run against the Cascadian clubs on the line this Friday, when they take on Seattle Sounders FC in a battle of the West’s top two teams at CenturyLink Field. Friday’s match – which has huge implications for both the Supporters’ Shield race and MLS Cup Playoff seeding – will kick off at 8:00 p.m. MT and will be broadcast nationally on the NBC Sports Network.
Should RSL earn a fifth-straight result in the Pacific Northwest on Friday, it'll have to do it in front of a huge crowd. Seattle – which usually restricts attendance at CenturyLink Field to a little under 40,000 – has opened up the entire stadium for Friday’s affair, with full capacity reaching upwards of 67,000.
— Seattle Sounders FC (@SoundersFC) September 11, 2013
One last note: RSL’s 18 road points this year are tied for tops in the league with Kansas City, while Seattle enters Friday’s match on a team record 12-game regular season unbeaten streak at home.
Something could very well give on Friday. Make sure you tune-in to see it all unfold.
There was some chatter on Wednesday regarding whether or not RSL Captain Kyle Beckerman would be able to play in Friday’s crucial MLS contest at Seattle Sounders FC after going the full 90 for the U.S. in its 2-0 win over Mexico in Columbus on Tuesday night.
Beckerman answered that question pretty definitively upon his return to Salt Lake on Wednesday afternoon, indicating to reporters at the Salt Lake City International Airport that’d he’d be ready for Friday’s critical clash at CenturyLink Field.
Beckerman said the turnaround is the same as Wednesday to Saturday, and he should be ready for Friday's game in Seattle.
— Aaron Falk (@aaronfalk) September 11, 2013
Of course, two Seattle Sounders players took the field for the U.S. with Beckerman on Tuesday night, with Clint Dempsey logging a full 90 and Eddie Johnson scoring a goal before going off with an apparent head injury in the 76th minute.
Sounders Head Coach Sigi Schmid commented today on the status of Dempsey and Johnson, telling Don Ruiz of the Tacoma News-Tribune and other Seattle media that Johnson’s head bump from Tuesday’s game does not call for a concussion protocol, and that both players are scheduled to train with the Cascadia club on Thursday.
“[Eddie] is fine,” Schmid said. “They both say they feel pretty good, but we’ll see how they feel tomorrow…. I don’t think the [U.S. Soccer trainer] classified it as a concussion. I think they said more right now it’s just a sore next, and Eddie said he felt fine today.”
In other Sounders injury news, reports indicate that Seattle defender/midfielder Brad Evans’ status is up in the air for Friday’s match due to a sprained calf and that midfielder Shalrie Joseph will miss the match due to a sprained knee.
Real Salt Lake will take on Seattle for the third and final time this regular season on Friday, facing off against the Sounders in an absolutely crucial Western Conference battle at 8:00 p.m. MT (NBC Sports Network) at CenturyLink Field.
RSL is 2-0-0 against Seattle so far this year, getting goals from Robbie Findley and Luis Gil to topple the Sounders 2-1 at Rio Tinto Stadium on March 30 and notching strikes from Kyle Beckerman and Findley to power past the Cascadia side 2-0 at home on June 22.
Check out highlights from both of RSL's 2013 wins over Seattle below:
March 30 - RSL 2-1 Seattle
June 22 - RSL 2-0 Seattle
Another big USMNT game, another good performance from RSL Captain Kyle Beckerman.
Beckerman helped the U.S. clinch its spot in next summer’s World Cup on Tuesday night, playing a very solid full 90 for the U.S. in its 2-0 win over Mexico in Columbus.
Sitting just in front of the back four, Beckerman completed 46 of 53 passes, staying calm under often significant pressure to keep the ball moving for the Stars-and-Stripes. He also put in a good shift defensively, staying disciplined with his positioning, intercepting a pair of passes, making three clearances and recovering six balls.
Beckerman’s performance earned some praise from all corners, with teammate Landon Donovan calling his performance “great” in a postgame interview with ESPN and various media types giving him love on Twitter.
I watched the game from the south end of the stadium, so take this as you will, but Kyle Beckerman was the best US player on the field.
— Jason Davis (@davisjsn) September 11, 2013
I was serious. Where are the Kyle Beckerman apologies from y'all. The tweets are in the library of congress, folks.
— Neil W. Blackmon (@nwb_USMNT) September 11, 2013
Two players who did their Brazil chances a world of good tonight: Omar Gonzalez and Kyle Beckerman.
— Graham Ruthven (@grahamruthven) September 11, 2013
Beckerman and RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando – who was on the bench on Tuesday night – will both return to Salt Lake City on Wednesday. They’ll both be available for Friday’s huge Western Conference battle at Seattle, which will be televised nationally on the NBC Sports Network.
As we mentioned yesterday, Beckerman has had some success against Mexico, turning in a stellar full 90 in the U.S.'s historic 1-0 win at Mexico on Aug. 15, 2012. Check out a recap of Kyle's performance in that game here, and watch the highlights of the groundbreaking victory - the U.S.'s first and only over El Tri in Mexico - above.
Real Salt Lake Captain Kyle Beckerman could be in line for a start for the U.S. national team in its World Cup Qualifier against Mexico on Tuesday night.
With center midfielders Michael Bradley (injury) and Geoff Cameron (yellow card suspension) out for Tuesday’s qualifier in Columbus, Beckerman – who dressed but did not play in the U.S.’s 3-1 loss at Costa Rica on Friday – could very well get slotted into the middle of the park for Jurgen Klinsmann’s side.
Beckerman has had some success against Mexico, turning in a gem of a performance in the U.S.’s 1-0 win at El Tri on Aug. 15, 2012 – the first and only time the Americans have beaten Mexico south of the border.
Other candidates to start alongside likely lock Jermaine Jones in the central midfield for the Stars-and-Stripes include Mix Diskerud and late call-ins Jose Torres and Joe Corona.
Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando is also on the U.S. roster for Tuesday’s match, which will kick off at 6:00 p.m. MT and will be broadcast live on ESPN. The U.S. can clinch a spot in the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil with a win over Mexico and a Panama loss/draw at Honduras.
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 blog, Facebook page and Instagram for all the latest info on RSL's youth development program.
GSA Exports is a regular feature where we track the progress of our former players who are playing at the college and professional levels. Here is a list of eight players who are playing professionally in five different countries and here is another list of over 40 academy graduates who combined to score four goals and assist on eight goals in the first week of college soccer.
The Real Salt Lake U-16 & U-18 Elite teams competed in their first tournament of the 2013-14 season. Recap of the 2013 North Huntington Beach Cup for the U-18 Elite team and a recap for the U-16 Elite team.
Real Salt Lake called up four academy players for their Reserve League match against Portland Timbers last Saturday. Each player saw some minutes in the match and impressed in their brief appearances.
Former GSA graduate Mikey Orellana is looking to put injuries behind him as he enters his first professional season with historic Danish club Brondby IF.
Four academy players were invited to participate in a U.S. Soccer National Combine from August 9-13 at Nike’s World Headquarters in Portland.
Real Salt Lake rookie forward Devon Sandoval participated in MLSsoccer.com's #SuperDraftReunion Google+ hangout on Thursday, joining rookie New England defender Andrew Farrell and first-year Colorado midfielder Dillon Powers and forward DeShorn Brown in a video chat hosted by Josh Whisenhunt.
Check out the entire hangout above.
Looks like that whole quality over big market idea has some merit.
Here's a tweet from Sports Business Journal's Media Reporter John Ourand regarding ratings for Friday's RSL-Portland match and Saturday's New York-D.C. game, both of which were televised on the NBC Sports Network.
MLS on TV: NBCSN's Portland-Real Salt Lake drew 171K on Friday night. NBCSN's DC United-Red Bulls averaged 67K on Saturday night.
— John Ourand (@Ourand_SBJ) September 4, 2013
Of the 19 teams in MLS, Salt Lake is the 19th biggest media market; Portland is 16th; D.C. is ninth; New York is first.
I've got some bad news for you, Real Salt Lake fans: Your team doesn't play a Wednesday night fixture tonight. Nor do they play this weekend, or next Wednesday. No, RSL doesn't take the pitch again until next Friday, 10 long days away. For whatever reason, MLS decided to give the Claret-and-Cobalt a break for the upcoming international dates while the rest of MLS plays on. Now I don't like the lack of RSL games either, but as we shall see later, if you're going to have a weeklong break, this is the time for it.
So what's a Real fan to do with no game to watch for the next week? Well, there are plenty of great World Cup qualifiers going on around the world, including those featuring RSL men Abdoulie Mansally (The Gambia), Alvaro Saborio (Costa Rica), Nick Rimando (USA), and Kyle Beckerman (USA). Thanks to this break in the schedule, none of these players are going to miss any club matches due to international duty. But there are plenty of MLS clubs that do have games, and many of these games will affect the Supporter's Shield and playoff races that RSL is right in the thick of. So I would suggest that there are still matches worth watching and/or following, and I've got your guide to the ones that most impact RSL below:
Chivas USA at Seattle Sounders (Wednesday 9/4, 8:00 MT, MLS Live)
The Sounders are eight points behind RSL, but thanks to scheduling quirks they have played four fewer games than Salt Lake. That means they have 12 points worth of games in hand, which means any points they drop as they play those extra games would be very helpful to Real's Supporters’ Shield chances. That starts tonight as Chivas USA visits. You may be tempted to think this is a guaranteed three points for the Sounders, but not so fast: They are missing both starting strikers (Clint Dempsey and Eddie Johnson) to international duty, and midfield stalwart Brad Evans is injured. On top of that, the Goats are playing some decent soccer at the moment, and their striker Erick Torres is one of the hottest players in the league right now. They could snatch a point against a depleted Sounders side.
Chicago Fire at Seattle Sounders (Saturday 9/7, 8:00 MT, NBC Sports Network)
Here we have another Seattle game that may be tougher than you might think. Those internationals will still be away for Seattle while the Fire are unaffected. Mike Magee has scored goals aplenty for Chicago, and Seattle will be playing on three days’ rest. Tune in to see if all those factors conspire to work against the Sounders.
Colorado Rapids at LA Galaxy (Saturday 9/7, 8:30 MT, MLS Live)
The Galaxy are the hottest team in MLS along with RSL, and currently RSL's greatest Supporters’ Shield threat. It would help Real greatly if somebody could slow them down a bit and Colorado has first crack at it. Like Seattle, LA is missing some key pieces due to international duty; Robbie Keane, Omar Gonzalez, and Landon Donovan will all miss this one. When Donovan missed games earlier in the year, the rest of the Galaxy struggled to score goals and win games. And with Colorado fighting for their playoff lives in the midst of a brutal schedule, the outcome here is definitely not a given.
New York Red Bulls at Houston Dynamo (Sunday 9/8, 3:00 MT, UniMas)
New York sits in second place in the Eastern Conference, but their chances of overtaking Montreal took a hit this week as they learned that midfield wizard Tim Cahill will miss several weeks due to injury. This week they take on the Jekyll-and-Hyde Dynamo, who seem to alternate between jaw-dropping and cringe-worthy soccer each week. Regardless, it's never easy to play in Houston, and it would help RSL if the Dynamo could send New York home with nothing.
Montreal Impact at New England Revolution (Sunday 9/8, 5:30 MT, MLS Live)
Montreal is currently RSL's greatest threat in the East, but they recently got some bad injury news of their own. New Designated Player Hernan Bernardello is out for multiple weeks with an ankle injury which will make it harder for Marco Di Vaio and company to score. In this fixture they travel to take on the upstart Revs who are clinging to the final playoff spot in the East. New England knows three points at home are a must, so look for them to try to keep the Impact on the back foot all night.
So there you have it - even with no Real Salt Lake, there's plenty going on that will be of interest to RSL fans. The Supporters’ Shield race is still murky but it will get much clearer over the next week, so tune in and see how it all unfolds.