With a nearly full-strength side, Real Salt Lake travels to Seattle for a match that could tilt the scales in MLS, with effects cascading down the table should RSL lose out. Jason Kreis's side, then, has a difficult task in front of them, in a difficult stadium, against a difficult side.
It is important for RSL to notch a win against Seattle, but this will be one of the more difficult MLS matches for Kreis to manage. Should his side adopt an overly defensive posture, it might be difficult to grab that win — constitutionally, we're not a side that thrives when sitting back in an organized fashion. Should they adopt an overly offensive posture, it might be difficult to preserve any goalscoring advantage maintained. Thus, striking that balance will be the impetus laid before Kreis.
This largely becomes the role of the midfield to maintain that balance: The match ebbs and flows by the actions they take. The forwards are important in that they must follow the lead of the midfield and adapt their play, and the defenders are important in that they must respond to the threats that emerge as a result of the balance. But it is the role of the midfield to dictate it, and with three veterans certain to start, that shouldn't be too difficult.
Kyle Beckerman: He is the player through which all things must pass, whether it is directly (passes to and from him) or indirectly (play being dictated by him, whether by literal communication or by his movement). He'll be important in relaying play to wide players, and ensuring that play circulates through the midfield.
Ned Grabavoy: He is the player tasked with perhaps the most work of the three veterans, and he'll be required to both help out defending against wide players and to push play through the midfield. His ability to maintain possession will be vital here, particularly against the Sounders midfield; this will give all other players more time to adapt off-the-ball and to provide new outlets.
Javier Morales: He is the player responsible for creating the deadliest of chances and to stretch play laterally both through his movement and through his distribution to forwards. This will open room for the other midfielders — Grabavoy and the other central midfielder in the diamond, perhaps Luis Gil — and the forwards in the areas in which they can do the most damage.
No player has an easier job than any other on the night, but by ensuring that their responsibilities are fulfilled, the collective burden will be lifted, and the wall of 55,000 fans in Seattle can be disappointed once again.
Real Salt Lake will play on national television for the third and final time this regular season on Friday, traveling to the Pacific Northwest to take on Seattle Sounders FC at 8:00 p.m. on Friday night on NBC Sports Network.
Oddly enough, Friday’s match is RSL’s second-straight game that will be broadcast nationally, coming on the heels of the Claret-and-Cobalt’s 4-2 win over the Portland Timbers on Aug. 30 on NBCSN.
That game – as detailed here – rated very well, drawing approximately 70,000 more viewers than the average MLS match on NBC Sports Network so far this year. The match was a great spectacle for the league and RSL, showcasing the Claret-and-Cobalt’s attractive brand of play in front of an electric, sold-out crowd at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Observers around the country took a little bit more notice of RSL following the nationally televised Portland win, praising the team’s solid style, various individual players and Head Coach Jason Kreis.
— Sebastian Salazar (@SebiSalazarCSN) August 31, 2013
Real's name, Barça's game. #RSL
— Keith Hickey (@usarsnl) August 31, 2013
I'm just excited to see Salt Lake on national TV #MLS
— Grant Wahl (@GrantWahl) August 31, 2013
RSL absolutely rolling, with Gil, Grabavoy and Plata all playing well, supporting their established stars. They will be tough to stop.
— Ives Galarcep (@SoccerByIves) August 31, 2013
We're all lucky for Javi Morales being able to recover from that kind of serious injury and re-discover his previous level of play.
— Andy Edwards (@AndyEdMLS) August 31, 2013
That national notice is good for RSL – it boosts recognition for the club, putting the players and technical staff on the big stage they so richly deserve. It gives guys like Kreis, Nick Rimando, Javier Morales, Kyle Beckerman, Alvaro Saborio, Tony Beltran and Ned Grabavoy a larger platform for well-earned end-of-season recognition.
The best way for RSL to continue getting that increased recognition is to be on national TV more than three times a season. And the best way for RSL to get on national TV more? Other than continued fantastic results – thanks team, you’re the reason we’re all here – it’s all about you, the fan, tuning-in in droves when the Claret-and-Cobalt are on a national broadcast.
Do your part this Friday. Park yourself on the couch, belly up to the bar or roll over to your buddy’s place and turn that dial to NBC Sports Network – channel 695/34 on Comcast, 220 on DirecTV and 159 on Dish – to watch RSL battle Seattle for Western Conference and Supporters’ Shield supremacy at 8:00 p.m. MT at CenturyLink Field.
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.