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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.

21 April 11:54 am

The U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team lost 2-0 in the 2014 Dallas Cup Final to Argentine side River Plate at the Cotton Bowl on Sunday. The two sides had met previously in their opening match of the tournament, which saw a different outcome with the Americans coming out on top 3-2.

River Plate’s Lucas Boye proved unstoppable, as he scored both goals – one in each half – for the Argentine side. The U.S. looked to be out of gas after having played five games in seven days. A match recap can be found here.

The U.S. U-20’s went undefeated up until the Final, defeating River Plate 3-2, shutting out German side Eintracht Frankfurt 3-0, beating Mexican club Tigres UANL 1-0 and defeating Brazilian club Fluminense 3-2 in the semifinals.

Two RSL players, midfielder Jordan Allen and forward Benji Lopez, featured heavily for the Americans throughout the tournament. Allen notched two assists and earned the game-winning penalty in the semifinal match against Fluminense. Lopez recorded one goal, notching the first in the Americans’ 3-0 win over Eintracht Frankfurt.

Both Allen and Lopez will return to Salt Lake City today.

21 April 11:03 am

The Real Salt Lake-Arizona Academy lost the Generation adidas Cup Final in heartbreaking fashion on Sunday, falling 1-1 (3-2) in a penalty kick shootout.

RSL-Arizona Academy star Sebastian Saucedo scored the opening goal in the match, a long distance free kick that ended up skipping into the back of the net in the 26th minute. Stoke City managed to equalize in the second half which ended up sending the match to penalty kicks after the sides remained knotted 1-1 after regulation.

Stoke City GK Tommy Dyche made two penalty stops and RSL hit the post twice to hand the Championship to the English side. You can read a full match recap here.

The RSL-AZ Academy team put in a dominant performance to reach Sunday’s Final, securing four wins throughout the tournament to advance to the Championship match. The RSL-Arizona Academy defeated Toronto FC 2-1, beat Stoke City 2-2 (4-2) in another dramatic penalty kick shootout, dismantled LA Galaxy 6-1 and then shutout FC Dallas 3-0 in the semifinals.

RSL’s Saucedo was awarded the tournament’s MVP award and Golden Boot for his astounding performance throughout the entire tournament.

19 April 3:00 pm

Real Salt Lake’s Jordan Allen played a big role for the U.S. Under-20 National Team in its 3-2 Dallas Cup Semifinal victory over Brazilian club Fluminense on Friday, coming off the bench and hitting the post and earning the game-winning PK for the Stars-and-Stripes.

The U.S. got off to a great start on Friday, getting goals from Rubio Rubin and Ben Spencer to take a 2-0 lead after just 18 minutes. Fluminense cut the U.S.’s lead in half just before the halftime whistle and went up a man shortly after the break, with U.S. defender Erik Palmer-Brown picking up a second yellow card in the 48th minute. The U.S. held strong after Palmer-Brown’s ejection, but couldn’t quite see the game out, with Fluminense equalizing in the third minute of stoppage time to force extra time.

Allen was active in overtime, hitting a curling ball off the post in the first period of extra time and getting fouled in the box to earn the decisive penalty in the second overtime period. Rubin had his ensuing PK saved, but he slotted home the rebound to give the U.S. a 3-2 win.

Allen, fellow RSL Homegrown Benji Lopez and the rest of the U.S. U-20’s will take on a youth side from Argentine club River Plate in the Dallas Cup Final at 5:00 p.m. MT on Sunday.

19 April 2:43 pm

The Real Salt Lake-Arizona Academy kept rolling at the Generation adidas Cup on Friday night, beating hosts FC Dallas 3-0 at Toyota Stadium in the tournament’s semifinals to advance to Sunday’s GA Cup Final against Stoke City.

RSL dominated FCD in Friday’s semifinal, outshooting Dallas 22-3 to cruise to an easy victory. Sebastian “Bofo” Saucedo and Josh Doughty powered the Claret-and-Cobalt to victory, with Saucedo scoring a fantastic goal to put RSL up 1-0 in the 32nd minute and Doughty scoring in the 40th and 44th minutes to seal passage to Sunday’s final. Saucedo’s goal was stunning, with the Utah-native chipping a 35-yard lob over the FCD goalkeeper and into the back left corner of the net.

RSL will take on Stoke City in the GA Cup Final at 10 a.m. MT on Sunday morning; the match will be streamed live on MLSsoccer.com. RSL and Stoke played a wild match in the tournament’s group stage, trading late goals to tie 2-2 in regulation before RSL prevailed in a penalty kick shootout. 

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. 

18 April 11:27 am

The Real Salt Lake-Arizona Academy U-17’s advanced to the semifinals of the Generation adidas Cup on Thursday night, thrashing the LA Galaxy Academy 6-1 to win Group B of the International Division and advance to Friday’s semifinal against hosts FC Dallas.

The Claret-and-Cobalt got off to a blistering start on Thursday, racing out to a 3-0 lead after just 10 minutes and taking a 5-0 advantage after the 26th minute. Forward Sebastian Saucedo had two goals in the win, while RSL Homegrown signing Justen Glad, Alex Knox, Tate Schmitt and Diego Silva added the four remaining goals in the win. The Academy kids put on a show at the right time, too; RSL owner Dell Loy Hansen, President Bill Manning, General Manager Garth Lagerwey and other front office executives were in attendance in Dallas for Thursday’s big win.

Click here for MLSsoccer.com’s full match recap from Thursday night.

RSL will take on FCD in the tournament’s second semifinal at 7:30 p.m. MT on Friday at Toyota Stadium. The semifinal match will be streamed live on MLSsoccer.com. The winner of the RSL-FCD match will take on the winner of the Flamengo-Stoke City semifinal in the GA Cup Final on Sunday at 10 a.m. MT. The two semifinal losers will meet in the third-place match at 9 a.m. MT on Sunday.