One of the big issues for Real Salt Lake this off season was to see if Robbie Findley wanted to stay here or move on to other opportunities, mainly over seas. With a late email Monday night RSL officially announced Findley will not be a part of the 2011 roster. Real Salt Lakes General Manger Garth Lagerwey's official statement.
"Robbie Findley has informed us that he has offers overseas and will be pursuing an opportunity outside of Major League Soccer as the next step in his career," said Lagerwey. "We respect his decision and thank him for his immensely valuable contributions to Real Salt Lake, as we could not have won a championship without him. We wish Robbie the best of luck with his future endeavors."
Findley was really coming into his own last year which was his break out season. Some of his goals were amazing and got the attention of the US National team. However something didn't click after the MLS Cup and his production and most noticeably his confidence suffered and he never got back to his form from a year ago.
So when Dave Checketts announced the name of his MLS team in 2005 I was left with a lame thought in my mind. ReAL Salt Lake was not for me of course it grows on you and I don't mind it all that much.
Now that Kansas City is officially changing their name to Sporting Kansas City I have to say we could of done worse (I preferred Salt Lake Alliance). Sporting Kansas City is
On Sunday night Major League Soccer crowns their Champion for the season and for the first time since Houston won the championship in 2007 there will not be a 8 seed playing in the final.
Ironically that was the last time the playoffs were set up with 4 conference members representing their conference. After that year because of some week teams making it into the playoffs Commissioner Don Garber made a change that at the time made sense.
The League allowed only the best teams to make the playoffs and allowed the bottom teams into the opposite conferences. New York Red Bull were the first to do so and made a trip to Rio Tinto for the Western Conference finals where they won 1-0. The following year Real Salt Lake found their selves in this situation and one upped the Red Bull by winning the league title as an 8 seed.
Major League Soccer's postseason awards are wrapping up this week as well as the MLS Cup finals being held in Toronto. Yesterday we found out who would be the "Best XI", aka MLS first team players.
Real Salt Lake set another record for the franchise with having 3 players selected to the team - Jamison Olave, Nat Borchers and Javier Morales. Both Borchers and Olave were finalist for defender of the year and Morales had the most talk for Most Valuable Players, but was not named as one of the final three. It once again is a testament of the system in place at RSL which gives you results.
The LA Galaxy had 4 players selected - Landon Donavan, Omar Gonzalaz, Edson Buddle, and Donavan Ricketts at goal. Ricketts was going to get this spot for being named Goal Keeper of the year. We addressed that a few weeks back, even though Ricketts had a great season, two other goalies had better season then him and RSL could of easily had 4 players instead of LA.
When your team is good and sets a few records, wins a few games, players get a few awards, people notice. The person who noticed this time was the head coach of the US Men's National Soccer team who decided to pick two Real Salt Lake players for his 18 man roster to play South Africa on November 17th.
Nat Borchers and Robbie Findley both got the call up to represent, how much they contribute is yet to be determined. Findley may not be a big surprise since he was on the World Cup team and even though his performance was not what most wanted out of him, it was enough for Bob Bradley to consider him for this round of friendlies.
Lets kick this off with some good news. Alvaro Saborio has been named Major League Soccer's Newcomer of the Year. Saborio was a finalist along with two Red Bull players Joel Lindpere from Estonia and French star Thierry Henry. For me that was an easy pick but, what could of put this in Saborio's favor to win besides his 12 goals and 6 more in the Champions League was he had more impact on his individual team then the other two. Lindpere was great but he wasn't a major factor on his team till about July were as "Sabo" was an impact all season long.
This is the second post season award for Real Salt Lake as Jamison Olave was named Defender of the Year last week. Tomorrow we learn who the Coach of the Year will be and I do predict that Schellas Hyndman (FC Dallas) will get this award.
It didn't set in until maybe a few minutes after the game on Saturday that Real Salt Lake would not be playing the rest of the season. It was a magical season, one that might of given the fan's and others the idea that some how this team would tie the game at 2-2 and push the contest to an overtime situation. But, it didn't and as the final 3 whistles were blown it was kind of a shock that that was all we would get from the best season in the franchises history and don't forget in the leagues as well.
It was disappointment for many in the ReAL Salt Lake organization to here that Nick Rimando did not win the MLS Goal Keeper of the Year award. General Manager Garth Lagerwey even stated it was a "small market" factor keeping the award from arriving at Rio Tinto. But for Defender of the year they had a much better chance with 2 defenders named to the final 3 spots. Jamison Olave was give the honors of being the top defender in the League and it caps a stellar season where he was also named to the MLS All Star team. Nat Borchers came in second followed by Omar Gonzales. It would of been a travesty if a group of men who set a league record for goals scored was not awarded top honors by the league considering what happened with Rimando who tied the league record of shutouts. Olave probably has something else to hang his hat on, no red cards this season which was a problem in the past.
More and more you here, what is RSL going to do without Javier Morales. Probably the same thing they have done all season, replace him with Andy Williams or Ned Grabavoy. Back in May, Salt Lake lost Morales to a groin injury only to go 3-1 and start a 5 game winning streak. The only lose they have had with Morales not in the line up this season was at Columbus and anyone that saw that game knows RSL was robbed a goal when Will Johnson scored in the closing minutes to tie it but was called off sides. Replay clearly showed he was not. It really comes down to what Head Coach Jason Kreis wants to do. He has Jean Alexandre for a big body and defense or maybe Collen Warner for attacking or just go with Williams and Grabavoy which gives you great passing or tough chippy cause problems play.
All and all Salt Lake needs to score and be very offensive in this one the whole game. Dallas will be doing the same but their defense might not be up to the challenge of a relentless attack that RSL can throw at them. Plus, how long until the altitude problem sets in for the Hoops? As long as FCD does not get a early goal things should settle into ReAL's favor. I'm going to go with a 2-0 win for RSL but then again I thought last week was going to end 1-1 until a few red cards changes that game.
Back in 2005 Major League Soccer introduced two new teams to their league, Chivas USA and what is still the smallest market team in the league, ReAL Salt Lake. Back then it cost 10 million dollars for an entrance fee and then you got to play with the big boys. It created 10 teams and ever since then MLS has add a team almost every year in the League and with some great success. Toronto, Seattle, Philly,San Jose have those honors. Now with 2 teams entering next year, Vancouver and Portland the conferences and playoffs will need to be changed. Just thinking if the Red Bulls think the playoffs should of been changed this year? In a stunning upset the Earthquake took down the darlings of the east and advance to the Eastern Conference Finals. That's pretty funny until you think that they could meet up with Colorado.
On some other notes, If you don't follow US soccer that much and understand there were soccer teams in the states back in the 70's all the way up to 1984 when the North American Soccer League folded, You might not know that the New York Cosmos are back .... sort of. http://www.nycosmos.com/ The Cosmos rights and history have been purchased from former executives for the English Premier league and Pele to see if the MLS is interested in adding them as the 20th team next year. Dan Garber the commissioner of MLS is not shy stating he want's a second team in New York. I like the idea and if this group comes up with a stadium consider it done.
This leads me to something else that interest me ... Stadiums. I love that the league will get to that magical number of 20 and I think they should sit on it for a few years to make sure everything is stable. But Stadiums have really turned a lot of finances for teams that have them. Next year Kansas City will introduces their new building and Portland will have a nice renovated home right in downtown Portland, oh and don't forget Houston will open theirs in a bout a year and a half. It goes a long ways to getting more teams in the black. I can't wait to see the Forbes magazines financial analyst of MLS and paint a picture of the condition the league is in and just how stable they are while adding all these teams. Hey with 40 million for every team to enter that helps.
As scheduled Major League Soccer gave some awards out Wednesday (Rookie and Goal Keeper) I do recall in one of my post last week that I said that the Goal Keeper Award should go to Real Salt Lakes Nick Rimando or Kevin Hartman and posted a few statistics to show that case. I then followed it up with "Ricketts would only get this if MLS wants LA to have some prestige." Yeah, Ricketts won the Award. It is clear that there were two players that were better then him this year and they did not get the honor they earned. Which now has me saying that Omar Gonzalez will win Defender of the Year, Hans Backe will win Coach of the Year and Joel Lindpere will win New comer of the Year ..... right? Here are the comparison form SoccerAmericaDaily.com
RSL set a league mark for fewest goals allowed (20), tied the mark for fewest losses (four), and conceded a ridiculous seven goals (another record) in 15 home games. FCD also lost just four games and Hartman's 0.67 goals-allowed average is miles better than that of his teammate, Dario Sala. A few observers downgraded Ricketts a notch from his excellent 2009, yet he still posted a 0.90 GAA and 11 shutouts; last year, his GAA was slightly higher (1.03) though he did have more saves. This year, the Galaxy also allowed only seven goals on the road.
To bad I didn't state what I thought all along last week that RSL would be matched up with the Columbus Crew for the Champions League. I don't know why I thought that other than it made too much sense and this kind of soccer is very political so I figured the MLS wanted a team guaranteed into the Semi's for the first time since the reorganization of the tournament. So they get their wish and not only that but the 4 Mexican teams are all on the other side of the bracket and the one team I wanted Salt Lake to avoid is as well, Monterre. The games start in February 22-24 (unknown what actual day) at Crew Stadium then March 1-3 at Rio Tinto. Might be a nice cold match or snow, sleet, rain.
Saturday was a great game all the way till the final whistle in Frisco Texas, but if you were rooting for Real Salt Lake it wasn't the result you would of hoped for.
Fabian Espindola's goal in the 5th minute was a thing of beauty and power. Had that stood we would have been in great shape. As the game continued it was obvious FC Dallas was controlling the ball and the flow of the game with the style they wanted to play.
In the end Jeff Cunningham equalizer in the 44th still kept everything in RSL's favor. A few red cards later and you have the monkey wrench I was talking about earlier in the week. Playing with one less man on both teams opens the field up a lot more and you can make runs at the goal and Eric Avila was the man to find the space and a great touch on the ball to put Dallas up in this series 2 goals to 1.
By now Real Salt Lake has been resting some place in the Dallas area enjoying the 75 degree weather and Texas beef. The game plan's in and what we see on Saturday will go a long ways for to advancing to the conference semifinals. Head Coach Jason Kreis has said he is planning a conservative game plan, which usually means counter attracts and a lot of ball control, which is RSL's best attribute. I'm looking for the midfield to actually be the main offense in this but, I didn't make the game plan and would like to see what Kreis means by "conservative" game plan.
Last night while watching the Rapids win at Dick's Sporting Good Park 1-0 over Columbus, I wanted to hear what ESPN's talking heads would have to say on all the playoffs match up's including FC Dallas vs Real Salt Lake. To some disappointment they almost said nothing. With FCD and RSL being considered the best or most even match up, I would of expected some sort of break down. Nope, not at all. They just said, should be a good match and moved on to other topics. Oh well, much like the NBA where the big markets get the coverage and love (Miami anyone), this is no different MLS needs eye balls and RSL does not bring them like the big cities.
For anyone interested in watching the game with a large group of like minded people, the RSL Watch Party will be at the Stadium for your enjoyment. It's not a bad deal for $25 you get into the stadium, watch the game on anyone of the 12 big screens, All-you-can-eat food, prizes at the door all beginning at 2pm an hour before the game. If I'm reading it right they said only 160 spots so it's recommended you reserve your spot. So if you're not shooting wildlife or attending another sporting event this could be your ticket to entertainment.
Major League Soccer announced the finalists for their yearly awards and Real Salt Lake players and their coach are present on the lists.
Goal Keeper of the Year-Nov 3
* Kevin Hartman (FC Dallas)
* Donovan Ricketts (LA Galaxy)
* Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
Today the 2010 MLS Playoffs will kick off when Colorado travels to the Buckeye state and takes on the Columbus Crew at 7pm MST on ESPN 2 (or if your me ESPN 3).
Here are some playoff predictions starting with Real Salt Lake and FC Dallas.
A few weeks ago this would of been a toss up as to who had the advantage. Dallas was on a record setting unbeaten streak and RSL was putting a team best streak as well. Things have changed, but are they in favor of RSL or FCD? ReAL? Why? They have proven to be the most consistent team this year in the MLS. Aside from the very difficult April they have lost only one match, which was to Dallas at Pizza Hut Park where they have never won before.
Most Soccer related websites posted their Power Rankings for the MLS today. None can really be taken seriously, not like the power rankings that are posted on say ESPN for NBA or College Football, but why not have some fun, right?
MLS.com put ReAL Salt Lake at the top for the second week after beating FC Dallas last week. LA made the biggest jump from 4 to 2 after their win over the weekend. ESPN's Soccernet.com Also has RSL at the top and make a note that ReAL will need to tighten up for the playoffs compared to how they played against the Rapids.
The nice thing for this ranking was Seattle at number 2. Anyone following the league knows that the Sounders should have the spot with a five game winning streak that came to an end on Saturday. These are my favorite Power Rankings.
Several of my soccer friends told me how they stopped watching the game on Saturday thinking it was done and RSL's 13 game unbeaten streak would come to and end. "Not so fast my friend," as Lee Corso proclaims every weekend.
The amazing turn of events at the 90th minute and then the 94th showed how crazy any sport can be. Believe it or not, this was not the first time Real Salt Lake tied a ball game up being down 2 goals with only minutes to play. I do remember a few years back when Freddy Adu was in town and John Elinger was still the coach, RSL put together a comeback almost like the one on Colorado only it was a lot faster. After a penalty was called on the New York Red Bulls (first year with the new name) Adu put the penalty kick away, not even a minute later ReAL got the ball down the field and Kenny Cutler, with his back towards the goal, just kicked the ball behind him with a side swipe and the ball curved into the net for a 3-3 tie in stoppage time. Amazing happens twice sometimes.
If many of you like me have just been proud to be a RSL fan this season, seeing how the team has won and played hard almost every game you might also be even prouder to know how many records fell this year. Let's start with the League records and the most obvious one - 25 straight non losses at home, dating back to last year when Salt Lake dropped a 2-0 match to the Kansas City Wizards. RSL also now becomes only the second team in league history to be unbeaten at home for a whole season, joining the 2000 Wizards. The next record to fall Saturday - goals allowed. The old mark was 23 but with the Rapids two goals, RSL now owns that record, set at 20 allowed goals on the season. Nick Rimando took the golden hands so to speak recording 14 shutouts on the year which led the league. ReAL also scored more goals than anyone. You need to understand key stats to prove just how good your team is for a whole season much like an ERA in baseball or Assist to Turnover ratio in basketball. Salt Lakes goals scored to allowed is always proof at how good your team really is.
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