RSL defender Chris Wingert was last week's guest at Real Salt Lake's Friday Fan Forum. The New York native dishes on his childhood, how he got to RSL and trying to beat fellow defender Tony Beltran in a beep test. Get to know the Claret-and-Cobalt veteran a bit better by checking out his answers below.
And make sure to make it to this Friday's Fan Forum with RSL midfielder Cole Grossman. Friday Fan Forums take place after practice at Rio Tinto Stadium. Practice will start at 11:00 a.m. and normally lasts an hour, but the end time may vary.
Chris Wingert Fan Forum
I used to practice a lot with my dad at home. He’d take me out the majority of days that I didn’t have team practice or a game when I was young. He was always asking me to go out and train and I can remember up until about 9th grade sometimes I would resist a little bit and it was always us trying to find a balance between pushing without pushing too much. He was always supportive. Once I got into 10th grade I was really focused on trying to make the youth national team and I started asking my dad to go out and train. To this day I don’t think he’s ever said no to me.
I get nervous before every game. There are obviously different levels of anxiety and being nervous. But I think a little bit of that is good and usually once you are in the game you are able to focus and when you’re in a sport like soccer, you’re able to run around a little bit and some of the nerves go away. My college coach used to tell me that if you can just win a ball right away that it will get rid of your nerves a little bit, and I thought that has always helped – whether it’s to win a header or tackle or just get on the ball right away. In general it’s ok to do things with fear, it’s ok to have fear in anything in life. You can still go out and try to accomplish your goal.
I’m from Long Island, NY. It’s far, far away from here; greatest place on earth. I’m a little biased though.
I don’t know if I hate facing anybody, but in terms of who gives us problems and is just a real concern for us, I would say Robbie Keane. I think he’s probably the best around and just a really sharp guy in the box and we have to be wary of where he is.
My favorite food is New York pizza. I try not to eat too much pizza when I’m out here or anywhere really, but when I’m at home I can’t help it. A lot of carbs: pizza, bagels, egg sandwiches; that’s my go to when I’m at home with my family in New York.
We’ve had a lot of good games over the years. Certainly the Championship in 2009 was a great one. One of my favorites for sure was beating LA Galaxy here because it was at home – that was one of the highlights of my career.
We spend a limited amount of time worrying about our opponents. We’ll have a meeting in a little while and scout the team a little bit. We’ll try and talk about what formation they could possibly play and what their lineup might look like and go over some tendencies. As a defender, I definitely try and study a few things about the right-midfielder or right-winger that I might match up against the following day. But the majority of the time during the week is spent working on ourselves and worrying about us.
Tony [Beltran] covers a lot more ground than me, he makes me look bad. I’ll tell you a funny story. Tony went to St. Johns too, just for a year and I had already left. We would always have to go and run three miles in 18 minutes, it was our big test in the beginning of the year. It was incredibly hard to do and even if I was in the middle of the season here I don’t think too many guys could make that run. I was home a couple weeks ago and our college coach said, “Yeah, Beltran had the audacity to come in here and run a three-mile, 17 minutes.” That is unheard of because it’s like three 5:20 miles in row. We always do the beep test and a couple years ago I worked my butt off and I was living in Park City at altitude and I was going to try and win the beep test. Tony was coming off surgery and so he hadn’t really worked out at all. The two of us were left at the end and I was working so hard but he just waited till I finished and then he ran one more so he could beat me.
I’ve been so blessed and fortunate for things to turn out the way they did. I got released from Colorado [Rapids] and was heading to LA to sign with them. Their right-back Chris Albright had torn his ACL and they needed somebody, so I was headed out there. Robin Fraser, who’s our old assistant coach, called me and we were really close. Robin asked me, “Would you rather come to RSL?” I heard a lot of good things about Jason Kreis so I obviously ended up coming here. Even though they were record-wise the worst team in the league at the time and people were calling me crazy for not going out to LA (Beckham was arriving the same day); I had a feeling that Jason, Robin, and all the staff were going to turn things around. I wanted to be somewhere for a long time and Jason told me that that place was here. He told me, “Come here and we’ll be successful and we’ll turn things around.” He did. Fortunately for me, my best friend, our captain, and one of our best players in the history of this franchise got traded here three days later which was complete coincidence.
When we win I have a lot of fun at games. Nah, I’m always having fun. I love the game. Of course it’s disappointing if we’re not getting the result we want, sometimes that stuff happens. I try not to let if affect me as much as it does. I wish it didn’t have such an effect on my mentality that next week but we appreciate when you guys come out. When we’re playing in front of 20,000 screaming fans that is a dream come true. I’m having a lot of fun doing what I’m doing and I’m going to try and do it as long as I can.
I think Germany will win the World Cup. I don’t want them to win – obviously, I’d love the US to win and go as far as possible. I usually end up rooting for England and Holland a little bit, but if I had to put some money on it I’d bet on Germany.
Could we see a bald Jeff Cassar this fall?
If RSL makes the MLS Cup Playoffs, we just might.
The RSL boss told the guys from Extra Time Radio on Monday that he and follicly challenged RSL Goalkeeper Coach Daryl Shore made a bet a couple months back that should RSL qualify for the MLS Cup Playoffs, Cassar will shave his head.
That could lead to a bit of symmetry on the RSL bench, as Cassar is currently the only member of RSL’s coaching staff with any amount of hair; Shore and fellow assistants Andy Williams, Craig Waibel and Paul Dalglish are all bald or sport a shaved look. It should be noted that RSL Strength and Conditioning Coach Dan Barlow has a nice head of hair.
“I wanted to have the best hair on the staff, so I set the bar really low,” Cassar joked during his ExtraTime interview. “But I made a bet with Daryl Shore, one of my assistant coaches, that if we make the playoffs I’m going to shave my head.”
We’ve got a preview of what Cassar could look like with a shaved head above. Gotta say, don’t think bald is Jeff’s best look.
Another week, another slew of postgame interviews from ABC 4’s Real Sports Live.
RSL commentators Bill Riley and Brian Dunseth sat down with three RSL players after Saturday’s 2-1 win over Colorado, chatting up goal scorer Javier Morales, goalkeeper Jeff Attinella and midfielder Cole Grossman for interviews that aired on Sunday night’s show.
Check out Bill and Dunny’s sit downs with the RSL trio below.
Bill with Attinella and Dunny with Morales:
Bill with Grossman:
Real Salt Lake and the Colorado Rapids will kick off the 2014 Rocky Mountain Cup on Saturday, with the Claret-and-Cobalt hosting the rival Rapids at 7:30 p.m. MT at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Here are a few storylines to watch ahead of the match:
How will RSL fare in first match without Beckerman, Rimando and Saborio?
We all knew it was coming, but that doesn’t mean that the absences of RSL Captain Kyle Beckerman, goalkeeper Nick Rimando and forward Alvaro Saborio due to World Cup duty will be any easier for the Claret-and-Cobalt to deal with this weekend. Saturday’s match will be RSL’s first without the trio, which departed on Wednesday for pre-World Cup camps with their national teams. Expect Jeff Attinella to fill-in for Rimando, Cole Grossman to step-in for Beckerman and either Devon Sandoval or Olmes Garcia to start for Saborio on Saturday.
Can RSL get off to a good start as it looks to reclaim the Rocky Mountain Cup?
Prior to 2013, the last time RSL lost a Rocky Mountain Cup, Rio Tinto Stadium hadn’t opened, a band called Hinder was near the top of the charts and Kyle Beckerman and Chris Wingert were members of the Rapids. 2006: Heady days. Real Salt Lake ripped off a run of six-straight Rocky Mountain Cups following that year, winning the trophy every year from 2007-2012. Colorado won the trophy back last year, with RSL posting a 0-1-2 record to cede the trophy to the east side of the Rockies. The Claret-and-Cobalt will want to keep the Cup’s stay in Colorado short, and can get off to a great start in the 2014 RMC with a win on Saturday.
Will home dominance continue in Rocky Mountain Cup?
The home team has historically dominated in Rocky Mountain Cup play, posting a 14-5-9 record over the visiting team in 28 RMC games. That dominance has been even more pronounced in recent years, with the home team not losing a game in the last 14 Rocky Mountain Cup matches, a streak that dates all the way back to RSL’s 1-0 win at Colorado on Oct. 20, 2007.
Battle of first-year head coaches
Saturday’s match will pit two first-year coaches against each other in RSL’s Jeff Cassar and Colorado’s Pablo Mastroeni. Cassar has gotten his career off to a sparkling start, posting an unbeaten 5-0-5 record through his first 10 games as Claret-and-Cobalt manager. That’s the second-longest unbeaten run to start a MLS coaching career in league history. Mastroeni’s start has been solid, if not as strong, with the former U.S. Men’s National Team stalwart guiding the Rapids to a 4-3-3 mark through its first 10 matches.
Find out how MLSsoccer.com's Matt Doyle and Dan Haiek see Saturday's Rocky Mountain Cup first leg unfolding. Give their Scouting Report preview a watch above.
Real Salt Lake lost its first Rocky Mountain Cup since 2006 last year, posting a 0-1-2 record against the rival Rapids to cede the trophy after holding it for six-consecutive seasons.
After going 0-1-1 against Colorado in the first two matches of last year’s competitions, RSL had a chance to keep the Rocky Mountain Cup with a win at the Rapids in the 2013 RMC finale on Aug. 3, 2013. Unfortunately, the Claret-and-Cobalt couldn’t quite pull it off, taking a 2-1 first half lead before allowing a 70th minute equalizer to draw 2-2 – and lose the RMC – in a lightning-delayed match at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
RSL will start its campaign to bring the RMC back to the Wasatch Front on Saturday, when it will host Colorado at 7:30 p.m. MT. Check out the highlights from last year’s RMC finale above and make sure you bring it on Saturday. Let’s make sure we bring the Rocky Mountain Cup back to its true home here in Salt Lake.
Men In Blazers’ man Roger Bennett’s love affair with RSL Captain Kyle Beckerman just keeps on marching on.
We touched a bit on this last week, but wanted to highlight Bennett – who is co-directing ESPN’s six-part documentary series on the USMNT that will begin tonight – talking about Kyle last night on ESPN2 show “Olbermann.”
Video above (the Kyle bit starts around the 2:20 mark, but watch the whole thing, trust us) and quote below:
“Kyle, I love Kyle. I wrote a piece about a year ago called "All Hail Kyle Beckerman," Bennett said of Beckerman, who – along with RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando – was called into the U.S.’s 30-man preliminary World Cup squad yesterday. “To me he’s the perfect U.S. footballer. He’s very technical, very tactical and deeply underappreciated. He makes everybody around him play better, and he cares about everybody else on the field. His whole goal is to make the attackers attack better, the defenders defend better and it’s that sense of sacrifice and love and joy from the game that you get from Kyle.”
“But spending time with that bloke, you only get to love him even more…. Here’s the joy of Kyle, I’d say he’s one of the emotional heartbeats of this team, he’s in his 30’s, he’s never made a U.S. [World Cup] squad, he’s been a seven-time MLS All-Star, he dropped off the squad really under Bob Bradley and Klinsmann’s pulled him back. Since he was eight he’s always signed his name “Kyle Beckerman: No. 15 USA,” even in notes to his mother. It’d be, “Mum, I’ve gone to the supermarket, I’ll be back in 20 minutes, Kyle Beckerman USA No. 15.” And he’s on the brink of making that childhood dream come true.”
Mansally to Beckerman; Beckerman to Sandoval; Sandoval to Grossman; Grossman to Beltran; Beltran to Grossman; Grossman to Borchers; Borchers to Maund; Maund to Grabavoy; Grabavoy to Beckerman; Beckerman to Maund; Maund to Mansally; Mansally to Maund; Maund to Borchers; Borchers to Grossman; Grossman to Beltran; Beltran to Morales; Morales to Mulholland.
Mulholland to goal.
All 10 field players. 17 passes. One goal.
Watch the excellence above.