2010 in Review: Best & worst of Real Salt Lake

Highlights aplenty as RSL smashed records across competitions

Alvaro Saborio, Kyle Beckerman

Photo Credit: 
Getty Images

SANDY, Utah – Real Salt Lake had the most successful season in club history, but they were unable to keep their grip on their MLS Cup prize from a season ago. Despite contending with the Los Angeles Galaxy until the very end for the Supporters' Shield, they faced a frustrating early exit from the playoffs at the hands of FC Dallas.

Along the way, however, they picked up several MLS records, numerous team records and a pass into the knockout stages of the CONCACAF Champions League by virtue of winning their group. Here are some of the highlights — and a lone lowlight as well.

Best moment of the year

[inline_node:316922]Two moments actually – the entire home-and-away set against Cruz Azul in the CCL. The slugfest in Mexico City in August under a tumultuous downpour was a classic, and it nearly saw the first win by an MLS club in Mexico. However, the home team mounted a furious last-moment rally amid the inauspicious field conditions to win 5-4.

But RSL forgot quickly with a home win against la Máquina in October to win their group. The 3-1 victory proved to themselves, and everyone else, that they could compete against a top Mexican squad and that they will be a force to be reckoned with next year when the tournament resumes.

Worst moment

Easy: the playoff defeat to FC Dallas. RSL had high expectations for a repeat and were stunned when they were knocked out in the first round. Defender Nat Borchers (and others) were in tears over the outcome. And Jason Kreis had this to say about that final result, a couple of weeks after the fact: “It’s hard for me to walk away with anything but a lot of pride from [the season], and then I’ve got this one big black mark at the end of it that’s difficult for me to deal with, still.”

Best goal

Ned Grabavoy’s long-distance screamer against Chivas USA on July 24. The failed clearance from Chivas set Grabavoy up well, and his return blast found the upper corner and left 'keeper Dan Kennedy flat-footed. Grabavoy's strike was an AT&T Goal of the Week winner for Week 17, and he was an initial contender for Goal of the Year.

WATCH: Grabavoy's long-range volley

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Best save

Nick Rimando made plenty of dazzling saves all season, but his stop on Columbus' Leandre Griffit in August takes the cake. The Frenchman's shot appeared to be headed over Rimando's head and into the top of the net, but the veteran jumped backwards and to his left to get a paw on the ball and knock it clear of danger. He appeared to be wrong-footed on the play, and was caught off-guard with the early shot.

WATCH: Rimando stops Griffit's tricky chip

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Team MVP: Nick Rimando

Real Salt Lake have built a team based on quality across the field rather than stars in certain positions, which makes this category difficult to pick. But on a team with the fewest goals allowed in MLS history, you have to single out the defense. And Rimando was a key factor in that this season, registering 14 shutouts in his 27 starts.

Best Newcomer: Alvaro Saborio

Put this one in the no-brainer category – as the league's award-winner in this category, it’s hard to look elsewhere. Saborío changed the trajectory of this club, almost from the moment of his arrival. He had 12 goals in his 27 league games and was Mr. Clutch with five of those goals coming as game-winners. The Costa Rican was also huge in Champions League action, where he recorded two braces and a total of six goals in five matches in the group stage.

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