The RSL-Arizona Academy U-16's will take on Strikers FC tomorrow in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy Playoff semifinals at StubHub Center in Carson, Calif. The U-16's are looking to retain their title as USSDA Champions - the young Claret-and-Cobalt side took home the championship title in 2013. A few Real Salt Lake first-team players and coaches, along with GM Garth Lagerwey sent a good luck message to the U-16 squad. Check out the video below.
You can send your best wishes to the youngsters by tweeting at the @RSLAcademy handle.
Find out how MLSsoccer.com's Matt Doyle and Nick Firchau see Saturday's Western Conference clash going. Give their Scouting Report preview a watch above
Real Salt Lake last met LA Galaxy on March 22 in its 2014 home opener at Rio Tinto Stadium, drawing 1-1 with the southern California side. But now the tables are turned and RSL will be facing the Galaxy on its home turf at StubHub Center for the second time this year. The Claret-and-Cobalt pulled off a 1-0 win in its season opener at LA on March 8. RSL will be looking to remain undefeated against the SoCal side in the regular season for just the third time in RSL history when they clash on Saturday.
The last meeting between the sides saw a beautiful half-volley scored by RSL forward Alvaro Saborio and a nice finish from LA forward Robbie Keane to top off an excellent individual effort. Saborio will be unable to do a repeat performance as he is still recovering from his foot injury, but that leaves room for one of the other Claret-and-Cobalt strikers to step up and deliver. Get pumped for tomorrow’s match by reliving RSL’s 2014 home opener.
Real Salt Lake hits the road on Saturday, taking on Western Conference rival LA Galaxy at StubHub Center at 8:30 p.m. MT. Saturday’s match will be broadcast live on CW30, ESPN 700 and 102.3 La Gran D FM.
Here are a few storylines to watch ahead of Saturday’s clash:
Real Salt Lake looks to go undefeated v. LA in 2014 regular season
Saturday’s match in California will be the third and final regular season meeting between RSL and LA Galaxy. The two sides met twice in March this year with the claret-and-Cobalt pulling off a 1-0 win in its season opener at StubHub Center on March 8, and then drawing 1-1 two weeks later at Rio Tinto Stadium. If RSL gets a positive result this weekend, it will mark only the second time in Claret-and-Cobalt history that RSL has gone undefeated in the regular season against LA.
Nick Rimando in pursuit of the all-time MLS shutout record
Real Salt Lake veteran goalkeeper Nick Rimando is one clean sheet away from tying retired goalkeeper Kevin Hartman for the all-time MLS shutout record with 112. If the 35-year-old ties the record this weekend, Rimando will have as many cleans sheets as Hartman in 60-less games. Hartman achieved 112 shutouts through 416 games played; Rimando has currently played 355 MLS regular season games. The California native will likely surpass the record this year, with 17 MLS matches left to play in the 2014 regular season.
Morales and Donovan look to continue success against each other
RSL’s Javier Morales and LA’s Landon Donovan have torched each other’s teams in their MLS careers. Morales has put up five goals and eight assists in 16 career regular season games against the Galaxy. Those numbers are impressive, but Donovan has done Javi one better, registering nine goals and nine assists with LA in 20 career regular season games against RSL. Donovan’s nine goals and nine assists are the second-most against RSL of any player in MLS history in both categories.
Beckerman and Rimando remain undefeated in 2014 MLS play
RSL Captain Kyle Beckerman and goalkeeper Nick Rimando are still currently undefeated in MLS play in 2014. The U.S. international duo left for World Cup duty after the club’s 5-2 win at Houston Dynamo on May 11, and up until that point the Claret-and-Cobalt were still undefeated in MLS play. Upon the duo’s return to Salt Lake last Friday, RSL pulled off a 2-1 victory over New England Revolution to keep RSL undefeated in 2014 when both players are in the lineup. Beckerman’s only defeat this entire year came at the hands of Germany, in the U.S.’s 1-0 loss in the group stage of the World Cup. Even if the club is no longer undefeated (RSL went 1-3-2 in their absence) Beckerman and Rimando can still keep their individual streak alive this weekend.
After a delayed and then restarted match on Tuesday and Wednesday, the Real Salt Lake-Arizona Academy U-16’s advanced to the 2013-14 U.S. Soccer Development Academy semifinals with a 1-0 win over the San Jose Earthquakes U-16’s.
In the originally scheduled match on Tuesday, the Claret-and-Cobalt got off to a fantastic start with two goals in the first 26 minutes from forwards Josh Doughty and Brooks Lennon, but the match was stopped and eventually postponed due to approaching storms in the area. In accordance with U.S. Development Academy rules, the game was restarted the next day with a 0-0 score line since the match had not reached halftime.
With the sneak peak of Real Salt Lake’s attack the previous day, San Jose came out better prepared and displayed a much improved defensive effort. Real Salt Lake managed much fewer chances but was able to finish one in the 60th minute through midfielder Evan Waldrep that proved to be enough to send the Claret-and-Cobalt through.
RSL registered its first chance of the reschedule match in the 13th minute. Doughty started the play, connecting with Waldrep who found an open Lennon in the box. Lennon let one rip but the attempt flew over the crossbar. In the 19th minute, Waldrep would again provide service for a teammate, holding up the ball 20 yards from goal until Diego Silva found space on the left wing, shooting from the edge of the box and forcing a deflection away for a corner kick.
At the start of the second half, Real Salt Lake started on the front foot, creating chances almost immediately. In the 44th minute, Lennon passed the ball to the top of the 18 yard box to waiting midfielder Danilo Acosta, whose shot flew over the crossbar, failing to challenge the San Jose keeper. With RSL pressing on the attack, San Jose was able to find some space behind the defense on the counter. RSL goalkeeper Christian Herrera was forced in several moments to make leaping saves to stop San Jose’s crossing attack from the wings.
Real Salt Lake finally found its much awaited goal in the 60th minute. Waldrep was again at the center of the action, finding space at the top of the 18 yard box to blast a shot that deflected off a San Jose defender and into the net.
After going down a goal, San Jose desperately searched for the equalizer forcing more big saves from the Claret-and-Cobalt’s Herrera. Entering the final ten minutes, San Jose began to throw every man forward, resulting in some nervy final moments for Real Salt Lake. In the 73rd minute, San Jose found space on a counter attack, unleashing a shot from 20 yards out that forced another save from Herrera.
Real Salt Lake were able to weather the storm through and secured the 1-0 win to advance. The RSL-Arizona Academy U-16’s will now play in the semifinal match held on Thursday, July 17 in Carson, California. The opponent is still to be determined.
Real Salt Lake Head Coach Jeff Cassar sat down with Dunny last Friday to discuss the first half of the 2014 MLS season, the Claret-and-Cobalt’s busy July schedule and the return of U.S. internationals Kyle Beckerman and Nick Rimando. RSL went on to snap its five-game winless run, topping New England Revolution 2-1 in front of a sold-out crowd at Rio Tinto Stadium. Hopefully, things continue to go RSL’s way as it face a difficult road match at LA Galaxy on Saturday.
Check out the mid-year review interview below:
The latest video in the Soccer Smarts with Professor Leo World Cup series takes a look at the semifinals. Argentina and the Netherlands will face each other in the second semifinal match today at 2:00 p.m. MT on ESPN. The winner of the match will face Germany - which defeated Brazil yesterday - in the final on Sunday.
Get a fantastic behind-the-scenes look at the return of RSL Captain Kyle Beckerman and goalkeeper Nick Rimando to the club last Friday. The U.S. international duo started and played the full 90 minutes in the Claret-and-Cobalt's 2-1 win over New England Revolution on July 4, just one day after returning from Brazil.
Check out the great video below: