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27 June 10:06 am

Real Salt Lake midfielder Luis Gil and the U.S. Under-20 national team have it all to play for on Thursday. 

The U-20's take on Ghana in the FIFA U-20 World Cup Group A finale at 11:00 a.m. on ESPNU and WatchESPN. A win would give the U.S. four points in the Group Stage, making them a virtual lock to qualify for the Knockout Stage. A tie and things become a bit muddied, with the U.S. - which would have only two points - needing major help from teams in Group E and Group F to qualify for the Knockout Stage as one of four third-place teams. The U.S. would be eliminated from the tournament with a loss. If you're so inclined, U.S. Soccer has a slightly more detailed breakdown here

Gil has played every minute of the U-20 World Cup so far, scoring a goal in the U.S.'s 4-1 loss against Spain last Friday and setting up the U.S.'s strike in its 1-1 draw against France on Monday. 

26 June 11:36 am

Real Salt Lake will look to advance one step closer to the 2013 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup trophy on Wednesday night, when it will host a Quarterfinal match against the NASL’s Carolina RailHawks at 7:30 p.m. at Rio Tinto Stadium.

Here are a few interesting storylines ahead of Wednesday’s match:

RSL looking to make history

RSL has never advanced to the Open Cup Semifinals. The Claret-and-Cobalt made the Quarterfinals in 2006 and 2011, losing 2-0 to the Colorado Rapids in 2006 and bowing out 2-0 to FC Dallas in the 2011 tournament.

A win on Wednesday would put RSL in the Open Cup Semifinal for the first time in club history, moving the team one step closer to the title and the CONCACAF Champions League berth that goes along with it.

Kreis gunning for win No. 100

RSL Head Coach Jason Kreis is looking for win No. 100 on Wednesday night. The Claret-and-Cobalt boss has 99 wins in all competitions since retiring as a player to take over the team in May 2007, posing a 83-65-50 record in the MLS regular season, a 4-5-5 record in the MLS Cup Playoffs, a 8-4-4 record in the CONCACAF Champions League and a 4-5-1 mark in the U.S. Open Cup.

Sandoval aiming for Open Cup milestone

Though he’s only played in two Open Cup games in his career, Real Salt Lake rookie forward Devon Sandoval could very well become the Claret-and-Cobalt’s all-time leading USOC scorer on Wednesday night.

The second-round pick in this year’s draft has three goals in RSL’s first two Open Cup matches, scoring once in the team’s May 28 win over the Atlanta Silverbacks and adding two in the team’s June 12 victory over the Charleston Battery. He’s tied for the all-time RSL lead in Open Cup goals with Captain Kyle Beckerman, Kreis and former RSL midfielder and current Head Scout Andy Williams.

Lengthy home stand coming to a close

Wednesday’s match is RSL’s seventh and final of its massive home stand. The Claret-and-Cobalt has dominated during its extended run at Rio Tinto Stadium, posting a 5-0-1 record in MLS and Open Cup play since the home stand began on May 25 against the Chicago Fire.

RSL will hit the road this Saturday, when it will take on Eastern Conference foe Toronto FC at BMO Field at 11:00 a.m. Due to FCC regulations, CW30 will broadcast the game on an hour-long tape delay beginning at 12:00 p.m. The Claret-and-Cobalt will return home following the Toronto match, taking on the Philadelphia Union in a fireworks game at 8:00 p.m. next Wednesday, July 3. 

25 June 5:14 pm

Real Salt Lake faces the NASL leading Carolina RailHawks Wednesday in the Quarterfinals of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. Luckily for the Claret-and-Cobalt, midfielder Enzo Martinez played for Carolina earlier this year while on a short term loan, appearing in three games and totaling 74 minutes played, and had the scoop on the RailHawks.

Here is how the former North Carolina Tar Heel felt about the second-division side:

On what it was like to play for Carolina:

It was good. I got playing time, which I liked. I enjoyed all of the players. [They] Were really good guys. I played with like five or six of them from before so they are a good team, hard-working team, a humble team so it’ll be a good one.”

On Carolina forward Brian Shriver, who leads NASL with eight goals:

“He’s a great player. He’s a true number nine. When he gets an opportunity, he puts it in the back of the net. He’s got a lot of speed. I think both of their forwards combine well and know each other really well. I know Shriver from North Carolina so I think he’s a great player.”

On what fans can expect from the RailHawks at Rio Tinto Stadium on Wednesday night:

“I think they’ll be more open. When I played with them, even when we played away, they didn’t sit back. They tried to score goals and that’s what they do right. So I don’t think they’ll be sitting back too much. Maybe they’ll be smart about how they press, but not like Charleston.”

25 June 2:30 pm

Continuing a fine U.S. Open Cup run which has surely frustrated and delighted Jason Kreis in equal measure, Real Salt Lake faces yet another side from the lower leagues in the form of Carolina Railhawks on Wednesday at Rio Tinto Stadium. With both preceding matches in this run-up having taken 120 minutes to run their course, Kreis will be looking to ensure his side wins in regulation.

But how can it be done? It's simple, really. Stretch the play but don't get stretched yourself. And insofar as it is simple, it is also a difficult task, and one which requires a concerted effort to really pull together in a cohesive manner, as it invariably involves a slew of moving parts.

Let's start with some base-level assumptions: Carolina Railhawks will come in looking to win. That's an easy one. Perhaps the most tried-and-true method — and one that has nearly felled us twice in this competition this season alone — is to leave defenders and midfielders in retreated positions while one or (if they're feeling adventurous) two attackers attempt to capitalize on gaps in the defense. Let's operate under this assumption, as it seems the most likely.

The first question that must be answered: How can Real Salt Lake avoid getting caught in possession? The chances will likely spawn from Railhawks clearances or long passes from the defensive third, and they'll probably come after a good chance for an RSL attacker is scuppered at the last minute. It's when we'll be most eager to win the ball back (and naturally so) and we're more likely to commit somebody forward in search of regaining possession. And why not? Their defenders will almost certainly be on the back leg. But this creates a difficult scenario: If one or two players commit errors, the odds of a goal against skyrocket. If Carlos Salcedo or Nat Borchers makes an error there, the ball is free for the taking and even a moderately quick striker will be in on goal in no time. It's easy to simply say something like "Just don't make mistakes, boys," and hope that it works, but we all know (I would hope) that it's not so simple.

One solution, then: When the ball is lost in a good attacking area, retain confidence that you will soon be creating another and allow the opposition a little bit of harmless possession before regaining the ball; instead of pressing even harder than before, drop into more reasonable positions such that the defense is better supported. It's an exercise in prudence, and it's one we have sometimes suffered from. It's a difficult ask when you're among the best in the league at what you do — press hard in the midfield, gain possession, and create chances when the opposition isn't quite ready.

So now that we've quite obviously solved that unenviable task (sarcasm included for free here), let's move on to the other difficult question to answer: How can Real Salt Lake score goals without intense pressure in the attacking third to force errors? When the midfield and defense merge into one gelatinous (but remarkably solid) blob, the metaphorical parking of the bus makes goal creation intensely difficult.

The answer is simple, but the execution is certainly less so. The strikers, who are more likely to be attracting the attention of the central defenders, should be trading moments of stretching play laterally, drawing defenders wide or forcing a zonal shift. The former option allows more runs into the middle from midfielders; the latter allows unprotected full backs to get into play more readily. With one striker remaining in a central position and the other wide, a late run from anyone deeper than Javier Morales could lead to a tantalizing opportunity.

25 June 2:05 pm

The Real Salt Lake-Arizona Academy U-18's and U-16's are both in Dallas this week for the U.S. Soccer Developmental Academy Playoffs. Garrett Cleverly is on-site in Texas with RSL-AZ and will be providing regular updates on the teams through the conclusion of the playoffs on Friday. 

FRISCO, Texas - The Real Salt Lake-Arizona Academy U-18's dropped its opening game of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy Playoffs, 2-1, to St. Louis Scott Gallagher Missouri on Monday night. 

Picture gallery here

Down a goal with five minutes remaining, RSL subbed in Te Wihongi and it paid off moments later, when Wihongi crashed into the box and headed in the equalizing goal from a Isaias "Junior" Juarez cross. The celebration was short-lived, however, as St. Louis stormed back up the field after the restart and scored the game winning goal in stoppage time from a looping shot outside of the 18.

With the loss, RSL is not eliminated in the playoffs but need some help from the other teams in their group to remain alive. If St. Louis win another game, RSL will be eliminated from the playoffs.

St. Louis came out aggressive and strong in the opening minutes of the game. RSL's Corey Nemeth had a goal saving kick save in the 11th minute and 'keeper Cesar Cobos stopped a 1-v-1 in the 20th. RSL settled down a bit, but their opportunities in front of the goal were limited to shots from outside of the 18 and from the wing. RSL's best chance was in the 33rd minute when Andrew Brody countered and played a through ball to Benji Lopez. His turned and fired a shot that tailed just high. Cobos made another 1-v-1 save with minutes remaining to keep the game scoreless going into the half.

RSL made three subs during the halftime break and moved Jon Zabasajja back to CB. This proved to be vital as Zabasajja became a wall in the back, winning almost every header and making a key stop in the 60th minute when a St. Louis attacker broke free after Cobos came out for a tackle. The player took a shot and Zabasajja made a goal line stop to keep the game scoreless.

RSL's luck ran out in the 69th minute when a St. Louis player broke free. RSL defenders moved up for the offside trap but a well-timed run by the St. Louis player put him in behind, rounding Cobos and slotting the ball home to put RSL behind. RSL continued to struggle connecting the ball but found the break when Wihongi scored in the 86th minute.

St. Louis pushed forward after RSL's equalizer, finding the winner in second-half stoppage time. An ill-timed switch by the RSL defense gave a St. Louis player an open look, allowing him to chip the ball over the head of a leaping Cobos. RSL had one final chance but a low cross was easily cleared giving St. Louis the 2-1 victory.

The RSL U-18's next game is on Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. MT against the CASL Chelsea FC Academy. The U-16's kickoff their playoff slate at 6:15 p.m. MT against FC DELCO.

25 June 11:07 am

As fun as it's been to be a part of RSL's scintillating run of form in MLS play as of late, it's time to put that on hold for a few days. That's because a huge opportunity is knocking for the Claret-and-Cobalt this week: Their Quarterfinal matchup in the 2013 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. On Wednesday RSL will host the NASL's Carolina Railhawks at Rio Tinto Stadium with a trip to the Semifinals against either the Portland Timbers or FC Dallas on the line. Real has talked about the emphasis being put on the tournament this year - talk which has been backed up by strong lineups thus far - and this game will be no different. Expect RSL to trot out its best available lineup for this one, in spite of this being the team's second of four matches in just 12 days. And if you're Jason Kreis, that makes sense when you consider the following:

  • RSL is only three wins away from getting the CONCACAF Champion's League berth that goes to the winner of the U.S. Open Cup. When you consider the various paths that lead to a Champion's League spot, at the moment this one is by far the easiest.
  • The stars seems to be lining up for RSL. It's almost like some unearthly force wants Salt Lake to win the Cup. Kreis is fond of saying "fortune favors the bold", but sometimes fortune just favors the fortunate. Real has played all three of their Open Cup matches at home, and if they win, they will also host the Semifinal match. While the odds of winning a coin flip (which is how match venues are determined in the USOC) are 1 out of 2, the odds of winning four straight coin flips like RSL just did are only 1 out of 16. On top of that, Salt Lake also has yet to face an MLS opponent in Open Cup play.
  • The Quarterfinals is the farthest RSL have ever advanced in this tournament. A win on Wednesday would break new ground for the franchise.

As I wrote last week, any fan who hasn't experienced a U.S. Open match needs to get down to the stadium for this one. Both teams are going to be highly motivated since a win gets them two wins away from hoisting the trophy and their next match would be at home. Carolina will be a decided underdog against the MLS league leaders, but don't underestimate the RailHawks - they've done well in the tournament before and have already sent Chivas USA and the LA Galaxy packing this year. Carolina's roster is loaded with ex-MLS talent and plenty of young MLS players on loan, and their coach Colin Clarke is a familiar face in MLS circles, heading up FC Dallas from 2003-2006.

For RSL's part, fielding a strong lineup means they will be anxious to take command of the match early and not give Carolina a chance to get a late equalizer or winner. If a criticism can be made of RSL's Open Cup run so far, it's that both previous matches against lower-division opponents have gone to extra time. RSL eventually showed their quality in those matches, but they made for tense moments and extra work to be done. With four games in 12 days, Kreis won't be eager to see his team put in 120 minutes on Wednesday - strong emphasis will be placed and getting ahead and not allowing a comeback.

former RSL beat reporter for multiple outlets, Jeremy Horton is a regular contributor to RealSaltLake.com and helps cover the team for ESPN 700 AM.

25 June 11:00 am

"It's a trophy. I want to win that. I want to win a trophy this year for our club, for our fans, for everyone. So why not put a bunch of emphasis on it? Why not make our stand in the Open Cup?"

-Tony Beltran

Real Salt Lake is ready for tomorrow night's USOC Quarterfinal. Are you? 

24 June 3:49 pm

Good news RSL fans! 

Come out on Wednesday night, eat a free hot dog and help RSL get one step closer to the Open Cup trophy and a return to the CONCACAF Champions League. Get your tickets here.

24 June 2:08 pm

The Real Salt Lake-Arizona Academy U-18's and U-16's are both in Dallas this week for the U.S. Soccer Developmental Academy Playoffs. Garrett Cleverly is on-site in Texas with RSL-AZ and will be providing regular updates on the teams through the conclusion of the playoffs on Friday. 

The U.S. Soccer Development Academy Playoffs kickoff Monday night for the Real Salt Lake U-18 Academy team and on Tuesday for the U-16's. For the first time in Academy history, the U18's enter the playoffs as the top-seeded team in their group. The U16's head into the week as the second-seed in their group. 

Thirty-two teams qualified for the playoffs. The teams are divided into eight groups of four, with every team facing off once against each of the other three teams in their group. The group winners will advance to U.S. Soccer's Finals Week in Houston from July 14-20. 

Real Salt Lake is one of just six teams to have their U-18's and U-16's qualify for the playoffs in each of the past three years. 

See below for a full breakdown of RSL's group opposition and a full schedule for the week: 

U-18 Group Breakdown and Schedule:

 

Overall Playoff Seed

GP

W

L

T

PTS

GF

GA

PTS/G

Real Salt Lake

#7

28

19

5

4

61

73

35

2.18

DC United

#9

25

17

6

2

53

72

29

2.12

CASL Chelsea FC Academy

#17

25

14

7

4

46

37

28

1.84

St. Louis Scott Gallagher Missouri

WC #11

27

14

9

4

46

50

31

1.70

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Previous results for the U-18's:

2011-2012: RSL finished second in its group with a 2-1-0 record. 
2010-2011: RSL finished second in its group with a 2-1-0 record. 

Schedule

Mon., June 24
Real Salt Lake vs St. Louis Scott Gallagher Missouri  - 8:15 p.m. MT at FC Dallas Sports Park Field #15

Tues., June 25
Real Salt Lake vs CASL Chelsea FC Academy - 8:30 p.m. MT at FC Dallas Sports Park Field #15

Thurs., June 27
Real Salt Lake vs DC United - 10:00 a.m. MT at FC Dallas Sports Park Field #15

U-16 Group Breakdown and Schedule:

  Overall Playoff Seed GP W L T PTS GF GA PTS/G

FC Dallas

#3

27

21

4

2

65

70

18

2.41

Real Salt Lake

#14

28

17

6

5

56

68

34

2.00

FC DELCO

WC #4

25

14

7

4

46

47

29

1.84

Sockers FC

WC #9

27

13

7

7

46

39

22

1.70

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Previous results for the U-16's:

2011-2012: RSL finished second in its group with a 2-1 record.
2010-2011: RSL won its group with a 2-1-0 record. In Finals Week the U-16's finished second in its group with a 1-0-2 record, eventually winning third-place by beating Real So Cal in penalties. Click here for video of that third-place victory.

Schedule:

Tues., June 25th
Real Salt Lake vs FC DELCO - 6:15 p.m. MT at FC Dallas Sports Park Field #12

Wed., June 26th
Real Salt Lake vs Sockers FC - 8:00 p.m. MT at FC Dallas Sports Park Field #9

Fri., June 28th
Real Salt Lake vs FC Dallas - 10:00 a.m. MT at FC Dallas Sports Park Field #7

24 June 12:12 pm

Real Salt Lake put in an incredibly professional performance on Saturday night against Seattle, bossing the game and beating the Sounders 2-0 at Rio Tinto Stadium.

Here are a few interesting numbers from the match:

30

Real Salt Lake now has 30 points this season, tied with Portland for the most in MLS. The Claret-and-Cobalt – which, it’s worth noting, has played more games than most teams in the league – has more wins than Portland and is technically in first-place in the league.

5

Saturday’s win was RSL’s fifth straight across all competitions dating back to its 3-2 victory over the NASL Atlanta Silverbacks in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup third-round on May 28. RSL is now unbeaten in its last seven games across all competitions.

17-2

Real Salt Lake outshot Seattle by the ridiculous margin of 17-2 on Saturday. Sounders FC’s first shot didn’t come until the 73rd minute; the Cascadia club’s only shot on goal was in the 82nd.

478

RSL Captain Kyle Beckerman became MLS’s all-time leader in fouls committed on Saturday night. He now has 478 career fouls in regular season play, one more than previous record holder/former MLS midfielder Jesse Marsch.

8

The number of team’s remaining in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. Real Salt Lake will look to move into the tournament’s final four on Wednesday night, when it will host the second-division Carolina RailHawks at 7:30 p.m. at Rio Tinto Stadium. Get your tickets here