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13 July 11:49 am

Great story on Real Salt Lake midfielder Yordany Alvarez and his decision to defect from Cuba in 2008 from KSL's Dave McCann. It's a powerful piece; watch a tease above and check out the whole story here.

Cuba will be in action at Rio Tinto Stadium at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, when they'll take on RSL's Kyle Beckerman, Tony Beltran, Nick Rimando and the U.S. national team in a Gold Cup Group C game. Claret-and-Cobalt forward Alvaro Saborio will be in action at the RioT at 4:00, when he'll captain Costa Rica in a Group C match against Belize. 

Alvarez and the rest of the Real Salt Lake squad are currently in Dallas, where they'll take on FCD in a battle of the top-two teams in the Western Conference at 7:00 p.m. Saturday night on CW30. 

12 July 12:56 pm

Missing a handful of top players, Real Salt Lake travels this Saturday to FC Dallas, where they've never found a win. Absences won't make it impossible, but expecting it to get easier as a result would be a bit of madness.

Finding replacements

A whole host of players will be rather notably absent for this one: Alvaro Saborio, Kyle Beckerman, Tony Beltran, and Nick Rimando will all be busy in Salt Lake City (funny thing, fate), and Lovel Palmer is out through suspension after his dubious red card against Philadelphia. That doesn't exactly make the occasion easier, particularly with Kwame Watson-Siriboe and Chris Schuler out with injury. Shifting players around will be a tricky task.

The key position that might throw things off: right back. Beltran's absence is conspicuous, and Palmer's hurts in light of that. Perhaps Jason Kreis will opt to move Chris Wingert to the right side, deploying Abdoulie Mansally on the left — that would seem the most reasonable of options. But Carlos Salcedo and Enzo Martinez have both played significant minutes for the reserves at right back, and perhaps this is an opportunity to test things a bit.

Strike pairs and absences

We've played more pairs of strikers than one would expect, but Robbie Findley and Joao Plata may just get the nod with Saborio's international duty cutting into things — but not significantly more than usual, as the Costa Rican has played fewer than half the available matches this season. The debate rages on about RSL's best pairing: Plata and Findley are not just the speed demon options, but something more intricate that requires the entirety of the midfield be ticking over.

Throwing an Olmes Garcia into the mix obviates that a bit, as he'll run at players and pick up possession all over the pitch, creating dangerous moments along the way. At this point, he's less a system player than he is a fantastic one, though it should be noted that is essentially the goal with him — to exist outside of the system, or at least to stretch and bend it, perhaps nearly to the point of breaking.  That sort of disruption is essential in finding the best on-the-field solutions.

Devon Sandoval offers something altogether different, and that's an approximation of our playing style with Saborio in the side. He's clearly a different player, but his playing style is as close as we can come without the veteran striker in the side. As he develops into a stronger, more efficient player, perhaps the best pairing will involve Sandoval.

But for now, Garcia and Plata paired together — especially considering the absences in the side — might make the most sense. Garcia's raw skill and desire to control play from the flanks lessens the impact of Beltran's absence at right back, and it affords an opportunity to combine with Abdoulie Mansally up the left side, should he make the starting lineup.

Demons in Dallas

This is less a tactical adjustment as, say, one that's rather intuitive. We must be acutely focused on the task at hand, and with the numerous replacements to be featured, that's not going to be the easiest of feats. With Dallas struggling after a strong start, having now only two wins from their last 10 matches (having won six of their first 9), the opportunity might just be there for the taking.

regular contributor to RealSaltLake.com, Matt Montgomery runs the SB Nation blog RSL Soapbox. Follow Matt on Twitter @TheCrossbarRSL

12 July 9:48 am

Real Salt Lake Captain Kyle Beckerman will take the field at Rio Tinto Stadium on Saturday for the U.S. in its Gold Cup Group C match against Cuba. The Claret-and-Cobalt captain tweeted out a bit of a call to arms to fans on Thursday, inquiring about a possible USA remix to RSL’s famous “Believe” anthem. 

Beckerman is one of four players who will be at the RioT for Gold Cup action on Saturday. Claret-and-Cobalt defender Tony Beltran and goalkeeper Nick Rimando will also suit up for the U.S., while forward Alvaro Saborio will captain Costa Rica in its match against Belize. U.S.-Cuba kicks off at 1:30 p.m. MT, while Costa Rica-Cuba will begin at 4:00 p.m. MT. Click here to get your tickets

12 July 8:42 am

As told to Sam Stejskal

  1. I come from a family of soccer players. My Dad played for Atlas in Mexico before a knee injury ended his career. My great-grandfather played for Chivas Guadalajara, and they won like six titles in a row while he was there.  My Dad’s uncle, Hugo Salcedo, actually played for the U.S. at the 1972 Olympic Games. Editor’s Note: Jorge Salcedo – Hugo Salcedo’s son and Carlos’s first-cousin, once removed – played in MLS from 1996-2000, earned three caps with the U.S. national team and is the current head coach at UCLA. Jorge Salcedo coached current RSL defender Tony Beltran at UCLA in 2006 and 2007.
  2. When I was younger, I played for Chivas [Guadalajara’s] academy. I spent two years there, but eventually moved to Tigres’s youth team when [current Chivas Sporting Director] Dennis Te Kloese moved from Chivas to Tigres. I was at Tigres for almost three years. While I was there, we went to Dallas Cup, and that’s where [RSL-Arizona Academy Director of Soccer] Martin Vasquez scouted me and invited me to come see RSL. At that time, I didn’t have a contract, and didn’t want to re-sign with Tigres, so then I decided to go to the RSL-Arizona Academy and try something new. 
  3. My Dad and Martin have actually known each other for a long time. They got to know each other at Atlas; when my Dad retired, Martin was just getting to the team.  When I got here, that’s when my Dad said that he knew a coach at RSL.
  4. I was at the RSL-Arizona Academy for about eight months.  The academy was good.  Basically, you wake up, go to school, and after that you have everything you need to become a soccer player. You have daily practices, weight-lifting, you have such a great coaching staff – it’s pretty big-time.
  5. After I graduated from the Academy last summer, I had offers from three Mexican teams – one of them was Santos Laguna. But I spoke with my Dad and my agent, and I didn’t want to go down to the same atmosphere down in Mexico. I wanted to try something else here in MLS, so I came here last July and began practicing with the team.
  6. Coach Jason [Kreis] believed in me, and I think that was a big step for me to take this chance – if the coach believes in you, that’s a good point for you.  That’s what made me come here.  [General Manager] Garth Lagerwey also was here to talk to me, and I think that was good for me. But what really was huge was already practicing with the team for six months and playing in Reserve games last year.
  7. My life changed a lot this year, because I’ve been getting playing time with the first-team.  At the beginning of the preseason, they were telling me that I would be playing on the Reserve team, but when RSL first told me that I’d be playing, I was excited that I got the opportunity.  I’d like to thank Garth, Bill, all those guys that helped me to become a better soccer player, and made my dream come true.
  8. I think I’ve been getting more and more experience each game I’m playing, and I think it’s a hard league.  It’s going to help me get to the next step; to my next goal, which is going to Europe.  I think MLS is a good league for defenders, because you get to play against hungry, big-time players like Keane, Henry, Martins and others that have already made a career [in Europe].  You see really good young players, too. 
  9. [RSL goalkeeper] Lalo Fernandez and I used to be roommates, but I moved out like a month ago.  It was a good experience, but now I think that we’ve decided to go separate ways, and that’s good at the end of the day.  We’re still good friends – he’s one of my best friends – and nothing has changed.  It was a good experience to live with another player, hanging out with him every day.  Right now I live with a family that I met over here last year.  They’re from Colombia, and I like it a lot to live with them.  They’re such a good family, and they’re supportive of me.
  10. I love Utah.  I like that everything is super-chill.  For me, I’m not the type of player who likes to go out in crazy cities and all those things.  I love living here, and I want to live here after I retire.
11 July 10:57 pm

Real Salt Lake reserve goalkeeper Lalo Fernandez made his pro debut on Thursday night, going the full 90 and making two saves in Phoenix FC's 1-0 win over Antigua Barracuda at Sun Devil Soccer Stadium. 

Fernandez traveled to Phoenix on Tuesday afternoon, training with the Wolves on Wednesday before earning the shutout on Thursday night. The 20-year-old RSL-Arizona Academy graduate will now return to the Claret-and-Cobalt. 

Fernandez could very well return to Phoenix for more games later this year.

10 July 9:52 am

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 blogFacebook page and Instagram for all the latest info on RSL's youth development program.

10 July 9:35 am

Portland's fans unveiled quite the tifo for Tuesday night's U.S.-Belize Gold Cup match, unfurling several huge banners and a green, "Cascadia" Uncle Sam just prior to the start of the Stars-and-Stripes' 6-1 Group C win at Jeld-Wen Field. 

You know by now that the U.S. is coming to Rio Tinto Stadium on Saturday for a Group C doubleheader. RSL's Kyle Beckerman, Tony Beltran, Nick Rimando and the rest of Jurgen Klinsmann's side will take on Cuba at 1:00 p.m. MT, with Claret-and-Cobalt forward Alvaro Saborio and Costa Rica playing Belize immediately afterwards at 4:00 p.m. The game will be a great chance - the second one this summer, of course - for Salt Lake fans to put a unique stamp on a national team match. Portland did it last night - let's get after it in our own way on Saturday.  

09 July 10:35 pm

Real Salt Lake midfielder Kyle Beckerman dropped an absolute dime on the U.S.'s second goal in Tuesday's Gold Cup Group C opener against Belize, curling a beauty of a cross into San Jose forward Chris Wondolowski for a headed goal in Portland. 

Check out Kyle's gorgeous cross above. Some Twitter love for the Claret-and-Cobalt captain is below: 

09 July 4:27 pm

The latest "Soccer Smarts with Professor Leo" dropped earlier on Tuesday. Give it a watch and learn all you need to know about the CONCACAF Gold Cup, which will come to Rio Tinto Stadium on Saturday, when the U.S. takes on Cuba at 1:30 p.m. and Costa Rica faces off against Belize at 4:00 p.m. in a Group C doubleheader at the Sandy facility.

RSL Captain Kyle Beckerman (U.S.), defender Tony Beltran (U.S.), goalkeeper Nick Rimando (U.S.) and forward Alvaro Saborio (Costa Rica) will all be available for selection on Saturday. Click here to get your tickets

08 July 12:43 pm

Currently with the U.S. national team on Gold Cup duty, Real Salt Lake captain Kyle Beckerman and goalkeeper Nick Rimando did an interview with Fox Soccer on Sunday. Part of that interview? Take 20 seconds to draw a picture of the other.

Kyle's drawing of Nick is on the left, while Nick's picture of Kyle is on the right. Check the artwork out on U.S. Soccer's Instagram and above.