Real Salt Lake got back on the right track on Saturday night, when it closed out its three-game home stand with a solid 2-0 win over Vancouver Whitecaps FC at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Here are a few interesting numbers from Saturday’s match:
19-year-old Real Salt Lake defender Carlos Salcedo became the first RSL-Arizona Academy graduate to play in a MLS match when he came on for forward Joao Plata in the 89th minute of Saturday’s win. Saturday was Salcedo’s first appearance in the 18 since March 16, when he suffered a concussion in the RSL Reserves 2-1 win over Colorado immediately following the first-team game.
RSL forward Joao Plata is tied with Kansas City midfielder Graham Zusi for the league lead with four assists. The Ecuadorian attacker had two assists in Saturday’s game, crossing to midfielder Luis Gil for the opener before squaring a ball to playmaker Javier Morales for the second goal. The two assist performance was the first time in 2013 that a RSL player has had multiple assists in a game.
Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando now has seven career assists after he was credited with one on the Claret-and-Cobalt’s opening goal on Saturday. Saturday’s assist was Rimando’s second in a game in which he also kept a clean sheet, with the first such effort coming in RSL’s 1-0 win over Seattle on Aug. 8, 2009.
Real Salt Lake defender Chris Wingert started and played all 90 minutes on Saturday. It was Wingert’s first MLS appearance of the season; the veteran left back missed RSL’s first seven games while recovering from a right foot fracture suffered in December and did not play in either of the Claret-and-Cobalt’s previous two matches.
Saturday’s starting forward pairing of Plata and rookie forward Devon Sandoval is the eighth different starting striker duo RSL has used in 10 games this season. The Plata-Sandoval pair was the seventh different strike combination used by RSL in its last seven games.
Real Salt Lake midfielder Sebastian Velasquez had a nice sitdown interview with David James on CBS 2's Talkin' Sports on Sunday night. The second-year playmaker goes into detail on his early life during the interview, at one point telling James that RSL "saved his life."
Click here to watch the entire interview. Definitely worth the time.
Skip to the 2:30 mark to see Martinez's goal
On-loan Real Salt Lake midfielder Enzo Martinez scored a beauty of an equalizer in his Carolina RailHawks debut on Saturday night, rifling a 30-yard right-footer into the lower left corner in the closing minutes of the NASL side's 2-2 draw at Minnesota United FC.
Martinez, who was sent on a short-term loan to Carolina on Monday, scored just seven minutes after coming on as a 77th minute substitute in the RailHawks away draw.
"It was a great strike," Carolina Manager Colin Clarke said of Martinez's goal. "The kid's got a lot of talent and ability and we're pleased to have him."
With Vancouver coming to Rio Tinto Stadium tomorrow, Real Salt Lake will be looking to establish a strike partnership to carry forward with Alvaro Saborio out with injury.
Striking up a partnership: Olmes at the core
Leading scorer Alvaro Saborio is out for at least a few weeks, and that's certain to add a bit of stress to the RSL strike force. As a result, it's important that a partnership be struck up between the strikers available — whether this is Olmes Garcia and Devon Sandoval or Olmes Garcia and Joao Plata is difficult to say. It seems likely, though, that Olmes Garcia is at the center of considerations at this point, such have been his displays in this still-early season.
He presents different advantages with each option: Alongside Sandoval, Garcia could play a little deeper and more central, picking up on balls shook loose by the big man. Sandoval's also a disruptive figure, and we've seen him getting some joy with his ability to hold off an opponent. Alongside Plata, Garcia could be a more central figure around which Plata would pivot. The options are boundless.
There's always a chance Garcia doesn't get the start, but if he's fit, the odds seem pretty good. He's the most flexible option of the three potentially available, and with RSL's attack still developing and building anew, that flexibility may be enough to sway considerations. He's also the only one of the three with a goal, and in every match he's played, he's looked dangerous and likely to score further goals.
We're not unfamiliar with how Vancouver Whitecaps FC is looking this season, largely because we played against them only — what — three weeks ago? It's a funny thing, this somewhat-randomized intra-conference play. As a result, there shouldn't be any real surprises — and hopefully no strangely decided penalty kicks with which to contend. This should be particularly useful when considering Vancouver's attacking options. Truth be told, RSL looked pretty good against Vancouver, but improving on that will be a high priority.
First to the gates
Something like that, right? The onus is on Real Salt Lake to control the proceedings and to score first. It's an obviously desirable thing, but as we've seen, this side has trouble breaking down teams defending deep. Particularly without Alvaro Saborio out there to disrupt defenders through hold-up play, there's an inherent difficulty in breaking down those walls — unparking the bus, as it were. Scoring first and early forces Vancouver to abandon any designs to sit back and defend.
ABC4's Dana Greene filed a hilarious report on Thursday night featuring several RSL personalities ahead of Saturday's Star Wars Day at Rio Tinto Stadium. Give it a watch - and May the 4th be with you.
Really, really fantastic stuff out of Portland, where the Timbers and the Make-A-Wish Oregon made 8-year-old Atticus Lane-Dupre's dream of playing the MLS side at Jeld-Wen Field come true on Wednesday.
Atticus - who was diagnosed with cancer last fall - and his Green Machine teammates were treated to the full gameday experience on Wednesday, with more than 3,000 rowdy fans cheering them on as they took down Portland 10-9. Atticus scored four goals - nutmegging former RSL midfielder Will Johnson on one - and was named Man of the Match.
Thanks, Portland. And thank you, Atticus.
Known throughout the galaxy for his tactical wisdom and (inter)stellar man-management, Real Salt Lake Head Coach/Jedi Master Jason Kreis is also a gem in the media. Here are a few of his best quotes, as interpreted by Yoda ahead of Saturday's Star Wars Day at Rio Tinto Stadium match between RSL and Vancouver Whitecaps FC.
Kreis: “The Team is the Star.”
YodaKreis: “The star, the team is. Yes, hmmm.”
@JasonKreis on Twitter: “A thought: adversity always reveals people's character. So why shouldn't we look at it as an opportunity? A chance to show who/what we are!”
YodaKreis: “Adversity always reveals people's character. So look at it as an opportunity why should we not, hmm? Who and what we are, it is a chance to show!”
Kreis: “It’s amazing how much can be accomplished if no one cares who gets the credit.”
YodaKreis: "Amazing how much can be accomplished if no one cares who gets the credit, it is. Herh herh herh."
Kreis: "Do not bear this great challenge before us as a burden, but rather rejoice in it, soak it up, and know that together we can accomplish anything."
YodaKreis: "Bear this great challenge before us as a burden, do not. But rather, rejoice in it, soak it up and accomplish anything, know that together we can. Yeesssssss."
Kreis: "Professional sports lead to big egos. We do not have room or time for that."
YodaKreis: "To big egos professional sports lead. Room or time for that we have not. Hmmmmmm."
Kreis: "The victorious performance itself is merely the demonstration of championship character."
YodaKreis: "Merely the demonstration of championship character, the victorious performance itself is. Yes, hmmm."
@JasonKreis on Twitter: “Always striving to give our best.”
YodaKreis: “To give our best always striving. Yeesssss.”
Kreis: “I don’t like it and if I had refereed that I wouldn’t have made that call, but I don’t referee, I coach, and hopefully I’ll stay that way.”
YodaKreis: “I like it not and if I had refereed that I would not have made that call, but referee I not, I coach, and hopefully, stay that way, I will. Yes, hmmm.”
From left to right: Real Salt Lake Head Coach Jason Kreis as Luke Skywalker, Assistant Miles Joseph as Han Solo, Goalkeeping Coach Jeff Cassar as Chewbacca and Assistant C.J. Brown as Lando Calrissian.
May the 4th be with you.
You’ve seen the poster and you’ve seen the Twitter pictures; you may have even spotted him at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Until now, though, you may not have known the identity of Real Salt Lake’s favorite bounty hunter, Garrett Davis. A RSL season ticket holder since the inaugural season in 2005 and a huge Star Wars fan, Davis attends every Claret-and-Cobalt home match in a full-body, RSL-themed Boba Fett suit.
With that sort of commitment to both club and Empire, you can imagine how excited Davis was when he first heard that RSL would be hosting Star Wars Day at Rio Tinto Stadium for this Saturday’s match against Vancouver Whitecaps FC.
“I have a hard time describing it,” he told RealSaltLake.com on Tuesday. “My wife said it perfectly: Just saying I’m excited about Saturday’s match is an understatement. It’s definitely two of my passions, it’s a match made in heaven. It’s like peanut butter and jelly, having RSL and Star Wars together. I’ve seen other teams in different leagues do something like this and I always thought it’d be great to have here and I’m really excited to be a part of the festivities. My brother called me to let me know I was on the poster and I was absolutely ecstatic to be a part of it.”
For those who don’t know, Boba Fett is a villainous bounty hunter who first appeared in the second Star Wars film, The Empire Strikes Back. Davis began putting his Fett costume together last season, when he bought his helmet, painted it Claret and Cobalt and started wearing it to games. He even got it signed by most RSL players at last year’s “Meet the Team” event, several of whom – most notably noted Star Wars fan Tony Beltran – got a kick out of the head gear.
He took things up a notch this season, buying the full-body suit to match his helmet. And, despite his character’s evil tendencies – Boba Fett pals around with Darth Vader and Jabba the Hutt in George Lucas’s iconic series – Davis has been embraced by RSL fans, who often pose for pictures with him at home games.
“It’s been incredible,” he said of the fan reaction to his costume. “Even last year when I just had the mask it was great. This year, with the full suit, it’s just been incredible. It’s been really fun to take pictures with other fans and the reception’s always great when I’m walking into the stadium with friends and family.”
Davis – who said he’s “a little nervous” about wearing the suit to the stadium in the summer heat – will participate in Saturday’s “May the 4th be with you” festivities as the RSL Season Ticket Holder of the Game. You’ll have a chance to catch him on the Rio Tinto Stadium big screen before the match as he leads the Parade of Kings out onto the field.
“It’s a fun way to combine two passions of mine and a fun way to express my fandom to the club,” he said. “Putting together the costume with the RSL colors and logo shows some extra passion, I guess. Luckily, it hasn't driven away my wife and she still comes to games with me."