RSL Roundup: Marathon comes to an end
LEHI, Utah — The finish to Real Salt Lake’s recent marathon stretch was a dramatic one. The team came from behind in midweek with a late equalizer against Toronto FC to punch their ticket to the CONCACAF Champions League knockout stages. Another late goal against the New England Revolution on Saturday temporarily vaulted RSL into sole possession of the league lead for the first time ever before the Galaxy regained the advantage with a win over Chivas USA on Sunday.
The whirlwind of matches slows this week for RSL, who have only one match to worry about. That match, however, is against the resurgent New York Red Bulls. A 1-0 New York win over the Kansas City Wizards saw the Red Bulls go top of the Eastern Conference, and the reigning champs will be tasked with stopping a bevy of DPs as well as an on form Dane Richards.
Set Piece Magic
Whenever Javier Morales is in the match, Real Salt Lake are more dangerous off of set pieces. His pinpoint accuracy helped the team score both of their goals against the Revolution, one off a free kick and the other off of a corner. The two tallies were number 12 and 13 from set pieces for the club this season, or about a third of RSL’s goals this season.
Borchers Scoring Streak
Nat Borchers is on . . . wait for it . . . a scoring streak! The bruising defender has now scored in back-to-back league games to run his season total to two. Borchers is obviously used to playing with the goal behind him as a defender, so it’s only fitting that both goals have come with a reverse header into the net. The nearly identical strikes required good service, obviously, but the move is not easy to pull off, and Borchers has done so with ease in the last two matches.
“I got the patent now on the backwards header,” Borchers told The Salt Lake Tribune after the match.
Saborio Dominant in the Air
As good as Borchers has been in the air in the last two matches, he’d probably concede that he’s not anywhere as dominant as his teammate Álvaro Saborío in that respect. Saborío struck his 10th goal of the year against New England, to go along with his six strikes in CCL action. The goal came via an aerial assault, as have many of his scores this season. It was also his fifth game winner of the season.
“Nothing surprises me with Sabo,” midfielder Will Johnson told The Salt Lake Tribune, “especially in the air. He's by far the best player I've ever played with in the air. He just overpowers you.”
Frequent Flier Miles
In their recently completed 14-game, 56-day stretch, RSL racked up nearly 22,000 miles of travel across the continent. They were a remarkable 7-1-6 during that stretch while outscoring their opponents 23-12.
The last six games of the stretch were particularly grueling, coming in just an 18-day span. RSL posted a 4-0-2 mark during that period.
Although they currently trail LA by two points in the Supporters Shield race, Real Salt Lake are keeping up with the Galaxy. They have put themselves in a surprisingly good position as they hadn’t expected to stay in the race once the Galaxy were eliminated from Champions League action. It seemed at that time that LA had too many advantages in its favor.
The schedule still favors the Galaxy, as they have two out of three at home, while RSL have only one home match left. Interestingly, the sides share two common opponents in their remaining three matches: Colorado and Dallas. The remaining opponent for RSL is New York, who will host the newly minted goal machine Borchers & Co. on Saturday at Red Bull Arena.