Opening the season at the defending champion LA Galaxy is not exactly the way to ease into a season that saw 9 players leave the Salt Lake roster. Add to the new faces the lingering injuries to regular starters Nat Borchers (quad strain), Will Johnson (groin strain), Alvaro Saborio (knee strain), and Javier Morales (knee strain), more than a few were nervous for the match-up.
LA came out swinging but couldn't capitalize on multiple chances. Edson Buddle finally broke through with a header in the second half to break the deadlock. Undeterred, rookie midfielder Sebastian Velasquez pushed a cross in front of the LA goal that was tipped into goal by Galaxy defender Sean Franklin. Let the comeback begin.
SANDY - Here we are at the close of the 2011 regular season. Real Salt Lake has only one game remaining, as do most other teams in the league. Nine of the 10 playoff spots have been decided while four teams vie for the final spot during the last week of games. Playoff positioning can still change during this next week, determining who first round playoff opponents will be.
Currently, Real Salt Lake is sitting in the third spot in the West. They are tied with FC Dallas for that spot but have a better goal differential, giving them the tie breaker. With only one game remaining, RSL can only finish in its current third place position or be overtaken by FC Dallas and fall into the number one wild card position. So which of these spots is better for Real?
With the current playoff format (which you can check out at here), it would seem appealing to be the first place wild card. Assuming that the 1 seed would defeat the 4 seed on the higher seed's field, that team would get placed in the Eastern Conference bracket. As has been the case for the last few years, the Eastern bracket has been the easier of the two brackets. That would give RSL the presumably easier path to the MLS Final.
SANDY - Major League Soccer announced Friday that Real Salt Lake midfielder and team captain Kyle Beckerman will serve an additional two game suspension for his head butt on Chicago Fire midfielder Daniel Paladini. That goes along with the original one game suspension and $250 fine that comes with any red card, as well as an additional fine of $1,000.
The suspension means that Beckerman will miss the last two games of the regular season - the Rocky Mountain Cup match at Colorado and the regular season home finale versus Portland.
Though the extra suspension does not come as a shock, the timing for a struggling RSL team could not be any worse. The team has now lost four straight games, the latest defeat on Oct. 7 at Vancouver.
The punishment for Chivas USA forward Marcos Mondaini's "clumsy" tackle on Real Salt Lake midfielder Javier Morales was announced on Wednesday.
The suspension? Just four games and a $1,500 fine. (Officially that would be three games and $1,250 fine because the red card Mondaini received carried a one-game suspension and a $250 fine.)
Many across the country consider this to be a very light punishment on Mondaini, who tackled Morales from behind, leaving him with a broken ankle, a dislocation and some torn ligaments. Mondaini was beat on the play, and to prevent Morales from shooting and having a great chance at scoring, he lowered his body to the ground to get under Morales' legs and take him down. But, this time Mondaini's butt came crashing down onto Morales' left ankle, resulting in the painful injury.
With captain Kyle Beckerman out for tonight's decisive game 2 of the CONCACAF Champions League Final, Real Salt Lake has a few line up options to consider. The one they choose depends on what strategy Head Coach Jason Kreis wants to implement.
Put Ned Grabavoy into Beckerman's position. Ned is not the biggest player, but he plays big and fights for possession. Grabavoy would be an offensive asset as he loves to push up and hang around the top of the goal box. It can make him dangerous if you leave him alone and he can service the ball in for the forwards. However, his defense isn't quite what Beckerman brings to the table.
SANDY - "Winning changes everything," according to Real Salt Lake owner Dave Checketts.
What does Checketts mean by change?
In order to accurately understand what changes have taken place, one must be reminded of the evolution of RSL and the impressive odds the club has overcome to get to its current status.
It's a foreign idea for a lot of people in America to understand how a tournament outside of their own league would be more important then the league title itself, but that is the reality we now face with Real Salt Lake in the CONCACAF Champions League title game.
That's not really a shock for anyone, is it? The NFL is at the top of the ladder for football (American football that is) - win that and your the best.
The games have ended and the finals are set. It will be Real Salt Lake facing Monterrey for the championships of the CONCACAF Champions League final. So much like a double rainbow what does this all mean?
There is a great moment in the movie Hoosiers ... well, there are a lot of great moments in Hoosiers, but the one I'm think of is when Norman Dale finishes prepping the team for the final game against South Bends and turns comments over to the team. The first statement out of one of the players mouths, "Lets win this for all the small schools that never had a chance to get here."
So with a little imagination we change the words "small schools" to MLS teams when we are talking about Real Salt Lake playing in the CONCACAF Champions League.
"Lets win this for all the MLS teams that never had a chance to get here."
A co-worker of mine asked me when ReAL Salt Lake starts up again for Major League Soccer play. I then informed him, in March sometime but, they start the CONCACAF Champions League on February 22.
His eyes then got wide and he said, "Man they have a long season."
From mid-November to the end of February is not an off-season at all really. But here it is and all because in the last season and a half RSL has been the benchmark of good soccer in this part of the world.
A short off season didn't stop Real Salt Lakes front office from getting the job done with securing the players for now and the future.
Nick Rimando is the latest to be signed to a contract extension by RSL. He will be with the team till at least 2013, after achieving his best season as a professional in 2010. Rimando is a key piece in stabilizing this team's defense for the future, as most contracts for RSL run to about 2013 and 2014.
On another line RSL has been prepping in Arizona
In Poker you play your best hand. You get through all your crappy hands and use your money wisely and then when the time is right you hit with the best hand you know will beat your competition ending in a big pay out, hopefully. You also play poor hands and see if your good enough at bluffing. Is Major League Soccer playing Poker?
In an article posted Tuesday from the Sport Business Journal indicates the MLS is playing a game of poker, hoping someone will break under pressure in order to get more money out of new television contracts.
Ten years ago it would of been some sort of crazy talk thinking the MLS could ask for even a dime to broadcasting rights. But, things change and ESPN offered $8.5 million through 2014 to broadcast MLS and US National team matches. Well, the league believes they can get $20 million from Fox Soccer Channel, that's only $13 million more then what FSC offered for a new contract that ends this year. What cards does Major League Soccer have?
Real Salt Lake lost a key forward this off season with Robbie Findley leaving for Euro ball.
Findley signed with Nottingham Forest with a 2 and a half year contract. Nottingham needed a scoring punch and they feel Findley can give them that punch. "The Reds" as they are known are in a good position in the Championship League of England's Futbal world (Championship is one down from Premier).
So RSL needed to replace him. They started by trading for Arturo Alvarez after the expansion draft, then they resigned Álvaro Saborío as a designated player to a 4 year deal and today the final peace was put into place with a loan extension to Paulo Araujo Jr (Paulo Jr for short)
This is a good read from US Soccer Players.com
They get into where Major League Soccer has been, where it may be going and what teams must change or lose out to teams that have changed. Good points, and they address what I think maybe the best move by the league since it started and that's expanding into the Pacific Northwest namely Seattle, Vancouver and Portland.
Those rivalries can generate a lot of buzz for the league and now with the Whitecaps having a rival with Toronto and soon to be Montreal it has a Canadian side of interest as well.
For the January Men's National Team call up's only one Real Salt Lake player made the chosen few, Nick Rimando. He was called up last year for this same training session. Rimando is the oldest player in this group and your guess is as good as mine as to what this can lead to. Maybe it's to compare him to other Major League Soccer goal keepers or maybe he's there to help bring the younger goalies along.
On a local note, Justin Braun a former Skyline High School and Salt Lake Community College player gets his opportunity to show what he brings for the national team.
After Major League Soccer's expansion draft and the World Cup announcement, it seems there really wasn't much to cover about Real Salt Lake and other MLS teams.
But, over the past week or so some stories are coming out about RSL's young Soccer Academy in Arizona. What would get insiders and followers of MLS interested in the youngest academy in the league?
Lets start with winning. In the programs first real tournament the 2 oldest groups of teenagers went unbeaten, one group going 2-0-1 and the other group going 1-0-2. These wins weren't easy wins considering one of them came against one of the oldest youth academies in the country and that was a 7-0 win.
Out of all the countries bidding for the World Cup the two countries that should have gotten the bid did not. It was interesting as I was watching ESPN and they were talking about odds makers saying that they predict Qatar and Russia to win the 2022 and 2018 bids. The ESPN analyst very clearly said he didn't know where they are getting their information but he thinks they are way off. He then stated they would have to have a few people inside giving them information and the logical choice would be USA and England.
December 2nd will arrive and within that day we will know which countries will be hosting the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. England, Russia, Spain/Portugal and Belgium/Netherlands want 2018. United States, Qatar, Australia, Japan and South Korea want 2022. FIFA's corruption seems to have died down as voting gets underway but there are only 22 votes to be had, which makes it tight. What benefits will the US have by being the host?
What This Says
As I posted my last post I was certain Real Salt Lake PR would have an email on all the days activities, but I got sent out on assignment and couldn't check for said email.
Well sure enough that information arrived and with it a trade was made with Portland. Arturo Alvarez will now play for ReAL next season after the Left footed Forward was taken in the expansion draft from San Jose and then the Timber traded him to RSL for a draft slot in the January 22nd Super Draft.
Alvarez also had some great numbers way back in 2003 and to know he can finish is always good news when you are looking at forwards. I think Jason Kreis knows the look of a finisher.
Major League Soccer's Expansion Draft came and went and to much a big surprise Real Salt Lake really didn't lose anybody that would put a big dent into the team structure. David Horst was picked by the Portland Timber first and with that RSL protected Collen Warner. On paper Warner was the better player and in the view of the head coach as well, Horst didn't play a minute this season for ReAL.
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