RSL Cup blog taking a long much needed break

I've been a fan of Real Salt Lake since it joined MLS and took to the field in 2005, and I've been a fan of MLS since it began in 1996.

However, over the past couple of years, and especially the last several months, I've began to see the ugly underbelly of this sport. Most likely it has always been there and I was just too naïve to see it, but I cannot not see it anymore.

I'm taking a much needed break from the sport of soccer. I may or may not be back. I may or may not update this blog, I don't know. It would be a shame since I've had it up and running for almost 10 years, but the fun I once had just isn't there any more.

Hopefully you fare better.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

How can they live with themselves after this?

Prior to the World Cup (I believe in 2002) someone thought it would be a good idea for a fashion shoot with some of the USMNT players. Oh how wrong they were. There was a photo of Cobi Jones too but that one has gone missing, lucky for him. (Donovan, Mastroeni, Mathis, McBride, Keller.)

Chivas Girl and mascot, 2005

When Chivas entered the league in 2005 they certainly spiced things up. This classic photo made the rounds on Bigsoccer that year for a couple of different reasons and for the funny looking mascot whose name I think was Lucky, at least on this day.

Chicago's Section 8, 2009

1996 San Jose Clash and New England Revolution home jerseys

1996 Kansas City Wiz and Dallas Burn


2004 Chicago Fire 3rd jersey

1996 Colorado Rapids and Columbus Crew

(Roy Wegerle)

USL looks forward to 2010 & beyond

( 12-30-09)

TAMPA, FL -- Over the past several months, United Soccer Leagues (USL) ownership and management have been in regular communication with senior leadership at the US Soccer Federation (USSF) regarding the newly-implemented re-sanctioning process for professional league members, including the USL First Division (USL-1). Earlier today, USSF issued a media release indicating that its Board of Directors voted not to sanction a league at this time in the Division II Men’s Professional League category where USL-1 has been the member since 1997.

“As a 24-year USSF member that owns and operates national elite soccer leagues for players of both genders, USL and its member teams remain focused on advancing its quarter-century tradition of supporting the growth of soccer in the United States,” said USL CEO Alec Papadakis.

“Our unqualified support of USSF at the professional, youth, and adult amateur levels since 1986 is incontrovertible. Although USL is respectful of the need to ensure that decisions being made are in the best interests of soccer and player development in the United States, it has detailed in its recent USL-1 2010 season re-sanctioning presentation that it is both willing and able to meet all published USSF Division II Men’s Professional League standards, including fielding a minimum of eight teams.”

The primary reason USL has so successfully contributed to the growth of soccer in the United States over the past two decades is the connections between and among teams through its system of leagues or "soccer pyramid" involving some of the nation's first true vertically-integrated clubs. Hundreds of players have followed the progression through its Super Y-League (SYL), the nation's first national elite youth soccer league, to compete in the Under-23 based Premier Development League (PDL), and then on to professional soccer in Major League Soccer (MLS), USL-1, and/or USL-2 as well as U.S. National Teams.

In this regard, USL has played an essential role in the development of American professional soccer players. The continuity of USL-1 as the USSF Division II Men’s Professional League is of vital importance for the entire USL system of leagues to continue to provide literally thousands of opportunities for players, coaches, referees, and administrators into the future.

In support of USSF’s efforts to find a resolution for the upcoming season at its Division II Men’s Professional League level, USL very recently agreed to one of the proposals made by USSF requiring USL-1 and the contemplated North American Soccer League (NASL) to come together for 2010. USL remains willing to proceed with this USSF-proposed scenario in order to enable the 2010 season over the course of the next several days.

Meanwhile, USL will continue to move ahead with its preparations for the 2010 USL-1 season in the appropriate membership category.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

U.S. Soccer Board of Directors Votes Unanimously Not to Sanction USL or NASL for Division II Status in 2010

( 12-30-09)

CHICAGO – The U.S. Soccer Board of Directors voted unanimously on Tuesday to not sanction either the USL or the NASL to operate a Division II professional league in 2010.

The decision was made on the recommendation of the Professional League Task Force, which determined that neither organization on its own was able to provide a viable and sustainable operation during the upcoming season. Both organizations were unable to meet U.S. Soccer’s requirement of a minimum of eight viable teams for 2010.

Despite the ruling, the U.S. Soccer Board of Directors has given both organizations seven days to try to work out an interim solution for the 2010 season.

“After carefully reviewing the findings from the Task Force it was clear there are still too many uncertainties for both organizations, which would be extremely difficult to resolve in a timely fashion that would allow them to prepare for the 2010 season,” said U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati. “In the best interest of soccer in the United States, we decided to not sanction either league at this point. However, we did encourage both leagues to come together in the next week and attempt to develop another plan which would allow a single league to be approved on a provisional basis. We are committed to finding ways to improve the long-term viability of all leagues and teams and continue the growth of soccer in the United States.”

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Portland's PGE Park

Already steeped in sports and entertainment history, PGE Park will undergo a $31 million renovation that will make it the most intimate, exciting and authentic soccer facility in the United States.

The objectives of the planned PGE Park renovations are:

Enhance the fan experience of attending an event at the stadium by increasing the functionality of the venue and introducing new amenities.

Preserve PGE Park’s ability to be a year round community center and host to more than 250 events annually, including Portland State Football and an array of youth sports and community based events.

Integrate with the existing architecture and the surrounding Goose Hollow neighborhood.

Elevate PGE Park’s facilities to Major League Soccer standards.

1. Field
The playing surface will shift to the West and the North in space created by the removal of the existing baseball dugouts. Doing so enhances the intimacy of the stadium by bringing fans closer to the action and creates more optimal sight-lines.

It also affords more space on the East and South sides of the stadium to create new seating areas described below. New Field Turf will be installed as part of the renovation in advance of the 2011 MLS season.

2. New Seating Areas
A new seating area along the East side of the stadium will be installed that will run parallel to the side line of the field and 18th Avenue.

The top of the new stands begins at the widened public concourse that is at street level and extends to the field.

These new approximately 3,600 seats will have industry leading leg room and width, with a majority of the new seats covered by a new roof.

The roof will be a distinctive architectural feature that is modern but visually consistent with the unique original stadium roof.

Approximately 1,144 of the new seats will be premium club seats, with the highest level of fan amenities, including a separate entrance and access to the new Club Restaurant described below.

3. Eastside Amenities and Public Areas
In conjunction with the construction of the new East side seating area several other new public areas will be built, including:

Public Plaza
At the 18th Avenue and Morrison Street corner of PGE Park the existing open plaza will be extended in to the stadium towards the field.

During non-event times this area will be open to the public, with views of the field.

Team Store
A new 1,000 square foot team store will be constructed adjacent to the newly extended public plaza at 18th Avenue and SW Morrison.

The store will be open to the public during non-event hours.

Concession Stands/Restrooms
New concession stands and restrooms will be added on the East side concourse to service the new seating areas.

Club Restaurant
As part of the new East side seating area a new Club Restaurant will be built to service the 1,144 midfield club seats.

This 5,200 square foot club will have views to the field, private entrances and will become the first sit down restaurant at PGE Park.

The club space will also be available for rental for private functions during non-event times.

Community Meeting Room
A new 2,200 square foot community meeting room will be built adjacent to the new club restaurant.

This multi-purpose space will be used extensively for a variety of community and corporate events both during non-event hours and during events.

Group and Family Decks
Integrated in to the design of the new East side seating areas will be three new open viewing decks providing excellent views to the field for groups attending events.

This area will also be able to accommodate temporary bleacher seating to increase the capacity for larger events.

The renovation design achieves the imperative of preserving substantial views in to the stadium from 18th Avenue and to the city from within PGE Park.

5. South End
Contiguous to the new East side seating areas, a new seating/staging platform will be built at the South end of PGE Park.

During events this area will serve as a group picnic area and/or performance area. This area will be built to accommodate concert staging increasing PGE Park’s ability to efficiently and cost effectively host concerts.

6. Seating Capacity
Capacity for soccer and football will be approximately 20,000 including the aforementioned group decks, with the ability to open up as many as 4,000 additional seats on the North end. (Note: The current soccer configuration only allows for a 16,000 person seating capacity.)

7. Access Road
The access road that connects 18th Avenue to the playing field on the South end of PGE Park will be widened and improved as part of the renovation, increasing the stadium’s ability to host concerts and other non-sporting events by greatly increasing the speed and cost efficiency of event load-in and load-out.

8. Sports Rehabilitation Clinic
Integrated in to the new East side seating area will be a new Sports Rehabilitation Clinic.

Completely privately funded, this 12,000 square foot facility will serve the neighborhood and provide daily activity on a year round basis to the East side of the stadium.

9. Large Format Video/Broadcast Facilities
To meet Major League Soccer requirements and industry standards new video and broadcast facilities will be included in the renovation.

These include new camera positions and new permanent broadcast cabling. To enhance the fan experience a new video scoreboard will be installed at the South end of the stadium, new LED video “ribbon” boards will be placed at various areas of the seating bowl and new television monitors will be installed in the concourse serving the new seating areas.

10. Press Box
The existing antiquated press box will be brought up to league requirements.

New furniture, fixtures and equipment (“FF&E”), improved broadcast booths and press working areas, introduction of air conditioning/heat, windows that open are all part of the plan to bring the press area up to industry standards.

11. Team Areas
The home locker room and training areas, and to a lesser extent the visiting areas, will be updated and improved to meet league requirements and major league standards.

12. Project Timeline
Foundation work for the new East and South side seating structures and other preparatory work will commence in January of 2010.

Construction work will cease during the Beavers and Timbers’ 2010 seasons and begin again in September of 2010. All work will be completed in time for the opening of the Major League Soccer season in late March/early April of 2011.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

October 7th, 2009 RSL vs CD Guadalajara

RSL ties Chivas 1-1

RSL draw with CD Guadalajara in fierce friendly

(by John Coon 10-7-09)

SANDY, Utah -- Getting a positive result from a late-season friendly with Chivas de Guadalajara became the primary mission of Real Salt Lake. The Claret-and-Cobalt accomplished that mission after a dominant first-half performance lifted them to a 1-1 draw against the legendary Mexican club on Wednesday night at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Fabian Espindola's first-half goal paced RSL on offense, while Omar Esparza provided the lone strike for Chivas.

Real came out of the gates in commanding fashion. Javier Morales quickly went to work warming up the offense when he tried to punch home a pair of shots from distance with no success.

Morales blasted the ball up the middle as he approached the penalty area in the 13th minute, only to have Chivas goalkeeper Luis Ernesto Michel parry it away. Then he took a free kick from 25 yards out in the 15th minute. The ball cleared the three-man wall of CD Guadalajara easily enough, but it landed square in Michel's hands as he came off his line.

RSL finally cashed in during the 16th minute following a nicely executed defensive play from Yura Movsisyan.

The Armenian forward snatched the ball away from a Chivas player and threaded it over to Espindola. Once he latched onto the pass, Espindola streaked toward the penalty area, only to pull up just outside. Espindola unleashed a low shot as he slid forward and angled the ball inside the left corner of the net to give Real a 1-0 lead.

Breaking through the RSL defense ended up being a major difficulty for Guadalajara. Chivas failed to create a single shot through the entire first half.

However, Chivas finally broke the ice in the 52nd minute when a nice give-and-go play between Omar Esparza and Hector Reynoso set up the team's first shot of the match.

Esparza laid it off to Reynoso and then cut into the area and latched onto a through ball from the defender. Once he had possession again, Esparza fired a rocket from the left side of the area that sailed over the shoulder of RSL 'keeper Nick Rimando and slotted perfectly inside the right post to make it 1-1.

Real had a solid chance to retake the lead on a pair of corner kicks in the 71st minute, but came away empty both times. Andy Williams swung the first one from the left side into Nat Borchers along the right post. Borchers headed it on frame, but his shot was cleared over the crossbar. Rachid El Khalifi took a second kick from the right corner. He dropped the ball down inside the six, but it took a hop into the waiting hands of backup Chivas 'keeper Victor Hugo Hernandez.

Robbie Findley took a crack at getting RSL a second goal in the 73rd minute. He blasted a low shot just outside the restraining arc, but the ball was saved by a diving Hernandez.

Findley was denied another opportunity when Hernandez failed to clear away an attempt from Pablo Campos in the 79th minute. The RSL striker tried to outrace Chivas defender Aaron Galindo to the ball sitting a couple of yards off the left post in front of an open net, but Galindo made a fantastic tackle to deny Findley a would-be tap-in.

Tempers boiled over on both sides as the half wound down and resulted a near brawl between RSL and Chivas late in first-half stoppage time.

After some pushing and shoving and shouting between both teams, Chivas midfielder Edgar Solis and RSL center back Jamison Olave were both ejected from the match. Solis initiated much of the ruckus when he threw an elbow into Williams from behind. Olave earned his ejection by going after forward Javier Hernandez long after the referee and linesmen attempted to separate players from both teams.

By halftime, Salt Lake and Chivas totaled a combined five yellow cards and two red cards.

July 11th, 2009 RSL vs Club America

RSL wins 1-0

RSL capture XanGo Cup 2009

(by John Coon 7-11-09)

SANDY, Utah -- Facing one of Mexico's most storied soccer teams, Real Salt Lake rediscovered their home dominance.
The Claret-and-Cobalt made a goal by Javier Morales in the 54th minute stand up for a 1-0 victory against Club America on Saturday night at Rio Tinto Stadium. The victory helped RSL claim the 2009 Xango Cup and move its record in friendly matches to 2-2-1.

RSL tried to use free kicks and corner kicks to give its offense an early jolt. The Utah side experienced little success in that approach.

Morales took a free kick in the third minute that careened into America's four-man defensive wall. Morales followed with a corner kick during the seventh minute that overshot the nearest Real player by a considerable distance.

The Claret-and-Cobalt nearly made something happen on a free kick in the 12th minute though. Clint Mathis took the kick and his shot attempt came to a halt at the foot of Angel Reyna. RSL quickly regained control of the ball and it made its way up to Tony Beltran on the left flank.

Beltran unloaded a rocket from long distance. His shot was perfectly on frame, but the ball did not make it past the hands of Club America 'keeper Armando Navarrette.

On the other end, the Aguilas turned up the attack and nearly got a goal through in between Morales' initial free kick and corner kick when Andres Chitiva drove down the right side and tried to thread it through the RSL defense from the edge of the penalty area. Chitiva's shot was parried away by Jamison Olave on a slide at the last minute.

Club America then set up corner kicks, both in the 10th minute and 25th minute, after penetrating deep into the penalty area. RSL defended both kicks well, keeping the Aguilas from creating anything too dangerous out of them.

Another threat from Club America materialized in the 31st minute when Salvador Cabanas broke free in RSL's half and fed the ball ahead to Chitiva. The Aguilas striker then tried to flick the ball back to Cabanas on a give-and-go, but Olave stepped in the passing lane and pushed the ball ahead to Real 'keeper Chris Seitz and he cleared it away to safety.

RSL struggled to generate offense at times as Club America found different ways to snuff plays out before they fully developed. One big stop came when a defender trailing Robbie Findley caught him as he entered into the penalty area and forced Findley to stumble forward -- preventing a potential one-on-one from materializing between him and Navarrette.

Perhaps the best scoring chance for RSL in the first half came in the final seconds of stoppage time. Yura Movsisyan collected a pass from Mathis and fired it at an angle from the left flank. Navarrette deflected the ball right back to Movsisyan and Andres Rodriguez took him down in a reckless tackle.

That foul set up a free kick from Morales who directed it to Olave at the top of the 6-yard box. Olave got his head under it, but the ball hooked just wide of the left post.

Club America came up with its first shot on goal quickly after halftime. Jean Beausejour uncorked a short right-footer from the middle of the area in the 48th minute that met Seitz on a line drive. Seitz snagged the ball at chest level to make the timely save.

On the other end, Morales set up Olave and Fabian Espindola with headers on corner kicks in the 47th and 51st minutes. Both players went high over their intended target.

Morales finally put RSL on the scoreboard in the 54th minute when he threaded the ball between Oscar Rojas and Pavel Pardo just outside the right edge of the penalty area and launched it over Navarrette's shoulder and into the upper left corner of the net.

RSL nearly added a second goal in the 64th minute. Tino Nunez flicked the ball up to the top of the area to Robbie Russell and Russell unleashed a laser right as soon as he received Nunez's pass. Russell's shot bounced off the crossbar and flew high into the air.

Tempers grew heated in the late stages of the match and increasing rough play led to a flurry of yellow cards for Club America and a red card for RSL -- issued to Movsisyan, who was already on the bench -- in the 78th minute.

The Aguilas nearly found an equalizer two minutes into stoppage time when Daniel Marquez brought down a long pass and sent it forward with his right foot. Seitz quickly covered up to stop that last gasp from Club America.


September 3rd, 2008 RSL vs Tigres UANL

RSL wins 1-0

Real Salt Lake down Tigres UANL in friendly

(by John Coon 9-4-08)

SALT LAKE CITY -- Real Salt Lake wound down their exhibition schedule by offering Tigres UANL of Mexico's FMF Primera Division a taste of the tough defense MLS clubs have experienced all season.
RSL made an early goal by Yura Movsisyan stand up en route to grinding out a 1-0 victory against the Monterrey-based club on Wednesday evening at Rice-Eccles Stadium.

It marked the first win for RSL against a Mexican club in three tries. Real had previously lost exhibition matches to Monarcas Morelia in 2006 and Santos Laguna this past July.

Along the way, RSL also snapped a three-match winless streak to international opponents dating back to last summer.

RSL wasted no time attacking the goal early against Tigres. Robbie Findley drove down the far sideline in the fifth minute and crossed to Will Johnson at the opposite post. Johnson had a good look at the net, but his shot bounced wide.

It was Movsisyan's turn two minutes later. Receiving the ball in the center of the penalty area, he pivoted and fired a line drive ball right at Alfredo Talavera -- a shot the UANL goalkeeper easily scooped up.

Findley tried to strike himself in the 10th minute when he settled a long ball lobbed deep into the penalty area. He shot the ball in stride but Talavera had the right position to come up with a catch.

Movsisyan went on the attack again three minutes later when he sprinted down into the penalty area and fired at the right post from the opposite side of the area. The shot was nowhere close to being on frame and skidded wide right.

The third time was the charm for Movsisyan, finally putting Real on the board in the 18th minute. Alex Nimo swung a corner kick out Movsisyan at the far end of the penalty area. Talavera came out to corral Movsisyan's touch shot, but he managed to pop the ball over him and into the back of the net.

Further efforts to add to the lead in the first half proved fruitless for Real. But RSL started to get things heated up again on the offensive end just after halftime.

Two minutes after the break, Jesus Chavez committed a handball in the area and referee Landis Wiley pointed to the spot. Movsisyan's put the resulting penalty kick on target, but Talavera guessed right on his dive and knocked the ball away. The Tigres had a good shot at an equalizer in the 58th minute when Chavez got under a corner kick and headed it at Chris Seitz. It didn't take much for Seitz to grab the ball out of the air and prevent the would-be goal.

Mario Ruiz had another chance for UANL in the 61st minute when he lobbed a free kick over RSL's defensive wall. But Seitz also snagged that ball before it had a chance to develop into anything.

Real did not dress several of their usual starters for the exhibition match, including Fabian Espindola, Kenny Deuchar, Nat Borchers, Ian Joy, Javier Morales and Nick Rimando.

July 23rd, 2008 RSL vs Deportivo Saprissa

RSL loses 2-1

RSL fall to Deportivo Saprissa

(by John Coon 7-24-08)

SALT LAKE CITY -- For all of the trouble MLS teams have had producing any good result against Real Salt Lake on their home field this season, foreign club teams keep leaving with plenty of victories.
RSL stumbled in its second international friendly in two weeks, falling 2-1 to Costa Rican side Deportivo Saprissa on Wednesday night at Rice-Eccles Stadium.

Real scheduled a match with the three-time CONCAF Champions' Cup winner as part of its annual Pioneer Day celebration. Saprissa struggled in the first half while figuring out the RSL defense, but took off in the second half behind rapid-fire goals from Ronald Gomez and Armando Alonso.

Just as he did against Santos Laguna, RSL coach Jason Kreis mixed in plenty of reserve players with his regular starters to begin the match. The results were much better for the club during the early stages than it ended up being against Santos two weeks ago.

Real just missed on a golden opportunity to stake out a quick lead in the eighth minute. Dema Kovalenko angled a free kick through a cluster of players to Kenny Deuchar in the center of the penalty area. Deuchar uncorked an on-frame header, but Saprissa 'keeper Keylor Navas knocked the ball down before it could reach its intended destination.

Throughout the half, RSL controlled possession like they hoped to do, but could not cash in on it. Kyle Beckerman lofted a ball over a defender on the near side of the box in the 34th minute, but Navas easily scooped up his shot.

RSL's final chance of the half came in the 44th minute when Robbie Findley put his head onto a ball sent to him in the area. But Findley's shot bounced forcefully off the right post and ricocheted backward.

Saprissa opened up things in the second half by nearly turning a pair of corner kicks into goals in the 51st minute. Walter Centeno swung both kicks into the center. The first one set up a header that just sailed over the crossbar. The second was deflected away by RSL 'keeper Kyle Reynish.

RSL stepped up its own attack in the 55th minute. Fabian Espindola -- seeing his first action after sitting out several weeks with a knee injury -- penetrated the six-yard box. Espindola bent a shot around the near post, but Alexander Robinson met the ball and cleared it away before it crossed into the net.

Saprissa finally took a 1-0 lead in the 58th minute when Gomez drilled a long shot after being set up perfectly by Centeno.

Alonso quickly put the Costa Rican club up 2-0 in the 62nd minute. He barreled down into the box, drawing out Reynish. Reynish dove after the ball, but Alonso patiently waited until he was out of the way. He then rifled a shot past defender Nat Borchers, who raced over to protect the empty net.

A fight took some of the friendliness out of the friendly late in the match. Saprissa defender Gabriel Badilla and RSL forward Yura Movsisyan were both sent off in the 83rd minute after their roles in nearly sparking a brawl between the two clubs.

Chris Wingert finally put RSL on the board in the 90th minute when Tino Nunez hooked it to him on the run and Wingert pushed it past a Saprissa defender into the back of the net.

July 9th, 2008 RSL vs Santos Laguna

RSL loses 4-1

Defensive lapses haunt Real Salt Lake

(by John Coon 7-10-08)

SALT LAKE CITY -- A major reason Real Salt Lake have risen to contender status in the Western Conference is a defense that simply refuses to make things easy for an opposing offenses. RSL already set a new club record shutout streak earlier this season and generally have made Rice-Eccles a nightmare venue for opponents.
From the moment Mexican Primera Division side Santos Laguna took to the turf, however, RSL's defense suddenly had more holes in it than Swiss cheese.

Real could not slow down the speedy Santos attack in a 4-1 defeat on Wednesday night. RSL yielded three goals in its half -- the fourth being an own goal courtesy of rookie David Horst -- and generally seemed to struggle with corralling a much faster and more athletic Mexican club.

"We knew they were going to possess the ball," midfielder Kyle Beckerman said. "That's one of their main things Mexico is known for."

RSL withstood a flurry of shots from Santos in the opening minutes, but seemed to buckle when Horst accidently flicked the ball backward into his own net in the 12th minute when he attempted to clear it out.

Santos staked out a 2-0 lead in the 34th minute when Agustin Herrera crossed to fellow forward Oribe Peralta and he uncorked a bullet that sailed right over the head of goalkeeper Chris Seitz.

RSL looked like it might mount a second half comeback when Alex Nimo delivered his first professional goal in the 70th minute. Nimo was on the receiving end of a cross from Andy Williams deep into the six-yard box and the rookie made it count with a powerful header that made it 2-1.

But whatever positive momentum generated by that play was quickly washed away down the stretch.

Santos midfielder Gregorio Torres popped the ball up and over Seitz as he dived forward to make it 3-1 in the 74th minute. Andony Hernandez delivered the capper in the 85th minute when he spotted up in front of the goal area and threaded the ball past Seitz for another easy goal.

It wasn't necessarily a catastrophe that RSL fell apart so quickly en route to losing the third annual XanGo Cup. With a key home match against Columbus on tap for Saturday, this friendly was more about giving some younger players experience and working out kinks in a game that did not count for anything in the standings.

But for Real coach Jason Kreis, it proved that his players cannot afford to take a night off against any opponent.

"We're not good enough to go into games and relax and think we're going to go out and have some fun and knock the ball around and be successful," Kreis said.

Kreis wasn't too hard on his club after the match, despite the lopsided nature of the loss. The focus on this exhibition match was different than at times in the past because of where it came in the schedule.

RSL did better in its XanGo Cup matches a year ago -- when the club beat Everton FC and tied Boca Juniors -- simply because those matches came during a lengthy break in MLS action.

"For us right now, we're in a very important stretch in our season and so the focus had to be completely different tonight than it has been for prior international games," Kreis said.

Beckerman and other veterans saw this as a good training situation for the team on how to handle itself in a hostile environment. The home advantage that RSL normally enjoys in its home stadium was washed away by a throng of Mexican fans who showed up to root for one of Mexico's premier clubs.

By the end of the match, the cheers from Santos Laguna fans reverberated throughout Rice-Eccles Stadium.

"That's the way it is when you play a Mexican team," Beckerman said. "It's going to be an away game in America right now. That's just the way it is. Even when the national team plays Mexico in America, that's the way it is."


Sunday, December 20, 2009

July 24th, 2007 RSL vs Boca Juniors

RSL ties Boca 1-1

RSL draws with Boca Juniors 1-1

(by Peter Richins 7-25-07)

SALT LAKE CITY -- On a damp Pioneer Day evening Real Salt Lake closed out Xango Cup 2007 with a 1-1 draw with South American champion Boca Juniors.
Although the storied Buenos Aires side controlled large amounts of possession, Salt Lake were able to score first and hang on for the draw against the club that just recently won the Copa Libertadores.

RSL created the first dangerous scoring chance of the match in just the eighth minute. Kyle Beckerman intercepted a pass and charged up the sideline before beating his marker just outside the corner of the area. From his position, Beckerman looked to be lining up for a cross, but his hard-struck drive was directed on frame and required Boca goalkeeper Pablo Migliore to make an acrobatic dive to keep it out of his net.

Recently returned from the FIFA U-20 World Cup, Freddy Adu saw the outstretched leg of his defender and drew a foul in nearly the same spot that Beckerman took his shot. The ensuing freekick, hit hard and low across the box, found Chris Lancos, but he skied his shot into the seats behind the goal.

In the 22nd minute Beckerman nearly connected with Kyle Brown in front of goal. Beckerman sent a ground-skidding cross into a streaking Brown who nicked Migliore as he cleared the ball away.

But Boca began to control possession of the ball for longer stretches of time, and as result they began to apply increased pressure on the Salt Lake goal.

Nick Rimando was up to the challenge in the 26th minute, diving back toward his own net to deflect an arcing shot from Pablo Ledesma over the bar. Then, in the 32nd minute, Rimando dropped to instinctively kick away a close range chance.

A flick from Boca defender Alvaro Gonzalez beat Rimando in the 38th minute, but luckily went just wide of the post.

Just before the intermission Adu dissected the Boca defense, splitting three defenders deep in the penalty area. But before he could break free to goal, Adu was sandwiched by his last two victims and sent to the turf.

The referee pointed to the spot, and Adu stepped to up bag the first goal of the match.

The second half opened with Boca pressing for an equalizer, frantically firing shots from long range. A few came close, but not close enough for Rimando to get a hand on.

That is until the 67th minute, when the Argentinean club pulled level on a goal from Mauro Boselli. Neri Cordozo sent a penetrating ball to the end line for Gonzalez, who floated a short cross over Rimando and onto the head of Boselli who nodded the ball into an open net.

The visitors missed a golden opportunity to take the lead in the 75th minute. Cordozo sprinted past Rimando -- beating the RSL goalkeeper with a single touch -- but his shot from a relatively narrow angle was sent into the side netting.

In similar fashion, Marcos Mondaini sent a shot in front of open net wide of the frame. Mondaini received a well-weighted pass from Ledesma just as he entered the penalty area.

But rather than place a shot past the charging Rimando, Mondaini decided to try and dribble around the Salt Lake goalkeeper. He was nearly successful, but as he got a look at goal Mondaini sent his shot harmlessly wide, and RSL was pleased to come away with the draw.


July 21st, 2007 RSL vs Everton

RSL wins 2-0

Real pick up friendly win vs. Everton

(by Peter Richins 7-22-07)

SALT LAKE CITY -- Against an English Premiership side that featured U.S. national team goalkeeper Tim Howard, Real Salt Lake earned a rare victory Saturday.
A 2-0 win against Everton FC, sure to boost Real's spirits when the Major League Soccer regular season resumes, kept RSL's 2007 record in international friendlies clean. With wins against Fiji, China and Everton, Real are 3-0 this season against the rest of the world.

Real Salt Lake played energetically in the opening minutes, and it led to some solid attacking moments. Howard was made to work to keep the ball out of the goal in the sixth minute when Alecko Eskandarian pushed the ball over to Kyle Beckerman, who took a 15-yard shot that Howard deflected wide, though not wide of the goal. Chris Wingert chased it down, looking to hit home the rebound, but Howard recovered and smothered the ball.

Everton's attack grew stronger as the first half wore on. The team from Liverpool earned itself a number of dead ball chances at goal, and between James Beattie and Phillip Neville, they looked dangerous in moments.

But Real had the better opportunities. In the 27th minute, Real goalkeeper Nick Rimando sent a long ball high down the right sideline to Robbie Findley, whose tight control brought him around an Everton defender, only to shoot right at Howard.

Seconds later, Eskandarian dropped a corner kick from the right next to the far post. Carey Talley's head came out of nowhere to put the ball into the back of the net and RSL had a 1-0 lead in the 28th minute.

It just got better for the home side. Less than a minute later, Andy Williams played a brilliant through ball to Findley, who charged into the box and shot the ball over Howard. The former MetroStars 'keeper had left his line to challenge and laid himself out to make a save, but Findley's shot bounced off the inside of the left post to give Real a 2-0 lead.

Through the rest of the first half, Real continued to put pressure on, but also found themselves in pain on the turf often enough. Chris Wingert and Daniel Torres each spent time writhing around on the newly-installed grass field at Rice-Eccles Stadium. And Findley seemed to be somewhat shaken just before halftime when coach Jason Kreis replaced him with Kyle Brown.

Taking advantage of the many substitutions available to each team, Kreis replaced all four of his defenders as well as Rimando at halftime. Kyle Reynish replaced Rimando in goal, and Chris Lancos, Ritchie Kotschau, Willis Forko and Jack Stewart each came in on the back line.

The defenders looked good at the start. In the 52nd minute, Leon Osman volleyed the ball from the right sideline to near the far post, where Beattie was waiting for a one-touch shot on the ground. Reynish, however, was all over it.

Kreis gave another three players a chance on the field in the 61st minute -- midfielders Kenny Cutler, Atiba Harris and Christian Jimenez each came on to the field. Then, in the 67th minute, Kreis replaced his last starter, Eskandarian, with Dustin Kirby.

The reserves, many of whom have seen first-team action in Major League Soccer play, acquitted themselves well from the outset. Kyle Brown got the ball out to the right side to Chris Lancos, who shot it long and low towards the far post but missed by inches.

The pressure only got tighter against Everton's rearguard. Brown had a short-range shot from the right that bounced off Howard to Harris on the left; Harris' shot also bounced away, this time off an Everton defender. Seconds later, Lancos had a shot from the right that flew just wide of the far post.

Real also got lucky on its defensive end, as Stewart tackled Everton's Victor Anichebe from behind in the box at one point. At any other time, the play likely would have given Everton a penalty kick, but the call was not made and Real held their 2-0 lead until the end.

June 7th, 2007 RSL vs Chinese national team

RSL wins 1-0

RSL earns much-needed win

(by Peter Richin 6-7-07)

SALT LAKE CITY - After a long hiatus, Real Salt Lake earned a victory on Thursday when the Chinese national team came to Rice-Eccles Stadium.
To be sure, RSL hardly cares that the win does not count in the Major League Soccer standings, or that the victory came against a team ranked 73rd in the world. Just getting the 1-0 win, the first one since April 18, has got to feel like two lungs full of clean air for RSL.

The game gave Real coach Jason Kreis a chance to experiment with his lineup. The teams agreed to allow 11 substitutions, giving Kreis a chance to start many seldom-used players; only Chris Seitz, Nikolas Besagno, Jack Stewart and Atiba Harris had seen a start in Major League Soccer play.

A couple RSL players started the game in unusual positions. Jamie Watson, seldom-used on the first team, has a knack for providing a spark as a forward but started the game on the right side of midfield. And Harris, who has only ever played as a forward for Real, started the game as a holding midfielder.

Real had the first look at the goal in the ninth minute when Chris Brown picked a China defender's pocket at the top of the box. The ball bounced over to Andy Williams, who charged and shot from 15 yards away and sent the ball over the crossbar.

As the match progressed, China found a way to challenge Real's strategy -- the visitors played tightly enough to shut down RSL's short-combination passing and forced Real to play long balls over the top. China also showed no hesitation to shoot the ball, either from distance or after working into the box.

China's Li Tie had a strong shot in the 30th minute after taking a pass from the opposite side of the box; he aimed for the goal from the right side of the box and shot with his right. Seitz, however, had charged out of the goal area and was able to pull the ball in right off of Li's foot.

Real had another chance in the 34th minute after China had a hand ball just shy of 30 yards away from the goal. Williams took the free kick, shooting it straight for the upper left corner of the goal, but the ball flew a foot wide and high.

China found itself with a fine chance in the 40th minute after Harris gave up the ball 30 yards away from his own goal. The ball found its way to Hao Junmin, who unspooled a rocket towards the goal, but Seitz was up to the task and pulled the ball out of the air for the save.

By halftime, China had taken 10 shots, compared to RSL's two. Five of China's shots were taken by Dong Fangzhou, who plays professionally for Manchester United. China's offense came out on fire for the opening minutes of the second half as Dong and Hao each created chances in the box.

Real earned a free kick 30 yards out in the 50th minute; Williams took the kick, sending it to the far side of the box looking for a trio of onrushing teammates. Harris got his head on it, but the shot was too high.

Real earned a pair of good looks in the next 10 minutes. After a run down the left sideline, a cross found Watson eight yards away from the right post, but one-touch attempt hit the outside netting. Harris also created a look for himself after a free kick -- he used his height, footwork and passion to hold onto the ball and get a shot on frame.

At the 63rd minute, Kreis began changes. He inserted Chris Lancos, Alecko Eskandarian, Freddy Adu and Kenny Cutler, and began pushing players forward in an attempt to get the goal. Initially, it took the substitutions some time to acclimate to the pace -- Real did not create any clean looks at the goal, but were able to move the action into China's end of the field.

But in the end, the moves paid off in the 81st minute. A long, high cross from the right sideline found Chris Brown towards the left side of the goal area. Brown deflected it to the right, where Eskandarian was waiting for a quick touch that bounded the ball inside the right post. It was Eskandarian's first goal with Real, and it gave the home side the 1-0 lead that stood up to the end.

Friday, December 18, 2009

August 12th, 2006 RSL vs Real Madrid

RSL loses 2-0

Real Madrid top 10-man Salt Lake

(by Peter Richins 8-13-06)

SALT LAKE CITY - Earlier in the day, Real Madrid president Ramon Calderon predicted a Real victory.
There was no way Calderon could be wrong, considering Madrid was playing its U.S. namesake Real Salt Lake. But to be sure, Calderon was pleased to see the original Real come away from the friendly with a 2-0 victory over Real Salt Lake.

The game featured some quality soccer from both sides, was played clean (with one glaring exception), and resulted in a not-too-disappointing result for the home team. A capacity crowd of 45,511 fans were on hand at Rice-Eccles Stadium to see RSL play some strong soccer against one of the most well-known and talented soccer clubs in the world.

Real Salt Lake had the first couple of good scoring chances in the fifth minute when Jeff Cunningham found himself with space to run in the penalty area. Cunningham, however, could not get past Fabio Cannavaro. Seconds later, after a throw-in, Chris Klein tried for a header at the right corner of the goal box but was marked too tightly.

Real Madrid gave itself a couple of good looks in the eighth minute, crossing it through the penalty area twice in a space of five seconds. The support was there, but the finish was not. In the ninth minute, Ruud Van Nistelrooy got the ball without being called offside, but Salt Lake's defense was able to deflect the shot just wide of the goal.

In the opening minutes, Madrid was able to put pressure on Salt Lake's penalty area with both a quick transition game or a direct, over-the-top fashion. Salt Lake had the first shot on goal when Klein put a shot into Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas' chest in the 12th minute.

Salt Lake goalkeeper Scott Garlick showed he was up to the challenge in the 21st minute, making three brilliant saves in the space of 30 seconds. Garlick came off his line to shut down one shot, got up quick and made himself big for a save on the rebound, then knocked wide a shot after a corner kick.

Madrid's Pablo Garcia was shown the first yellow card of the game in the 27th minute for a hard foul on Mehdi Ballouchy. Another foul just seconds later gave Salt Lake a free kick; a quick restart ended up giving Andy Williams a one-hop shot that Casillas was able to save.

In the 29th minute, Klein brought down a high cross from the left and took a shot deflected out by Casillas. Kreis took the rebound shot, but a Madrid defender made the save. On the counter, Madrid's Emerson took a 30-yarder that spun low towards the left post, but the shot missed inches wide.

Salt Lake's controlled game frustrated Madrid for some stretches in the first half; it was the best ball possession Salt Lake had put together all season. But in the 45th minute, Antonio Cassano was pulled down from behind, in the penalty area, by Salt Lake's Willis Forko.

On the subsequent penalty kick, Van Nistelrooy shot to the right as Garlick dove to the left and Madrid went ahead 1-0.

Madrid made five substitutions at halftime; the exhibition rules allowed unlimited subs. Madrid coach Fabio Capello inserted Robinho, Julio Baptista, David Beckham, goalkeeper Diego Lopez and Ruben de la Red. Robinho made his presence felt right away, holding the ball and fighting off several Salt Lake defenders in the 47th minute before shooting the ball. Salt Lake goalkeeper Jay Nolly, a halftime substitution, made the save on the shot and on the rebound attempt.

Salt Lake gave itself some trouble in the 58th minute when Atiba Harris took down Sergio Ramos with a reckless, studs-up foul from behind. Harris, another halftime insertion, was shown a red card and sent off the field. To handle the situation, Salt Lake went to a 4-4-1 with only Cunningham up top.

In the 64th minute, Beckham fouled Cunningham outside the left corber of the penalty area. Andy Williams sent the free kick to Cunnningham, who took a shot that rolled untouched through the six-yard box and just wide of the right post.

Madrid's several halftime substitutions resulted in a much more aggressive style of play. It paid off when Madrid made it a 2-0 game in the 65th minute. Van Nistelrooy gave a back-pass to Robinho, who skipped through the defense and beat Nolly with a right-to-left shot with one touch on the ball.

Salt Lake coach John Ellinger made three substitutions in the 72nd minute, seemingly intending to get some of his younger players some experience against such a strong team. He inserted Douglas Sequeira for Williams, Cameron Knowles for Klein and Nikolas Besagno for Eddie Pope.

The younger players fared well, keeping Madrid out of the goal while playing a man down. But with few offensive options left, Salt Lake was unable to come back and Madrid earned the victory.


July 19th, 2006 RSL vs Morelia

RSL loses 3-1

RSL downed by Morelia in friendly

(by Scott McAllister 7-20-06)

SALT LAKE CITY -- Real Salt Lake fell 3-1 to Monarcas Morelia on Wednesday night in an international friendly at Rice-Eccles Stadium -- though "friendly" would not accurately describe the heated battle that took place in front of a crowd that largely supported the Mexican Primera Division club.
The exhibition match brought out plenty of fire and fight between the two sides from neighboring countries. A total of 36 fouls were committed by both sides, with nine yellow cards shown.

RSL used the match to give its reserve players some valuable international experience as head coach John Ellinger went with a much younger lineup than usual.

The youngsters proved their worth early as Jay Nolly saved a penalty kick in only the third minute. Morelia striker Rafael Marquez was cutting across the corner of the penalty area when he fell to the ground after receiving contact from RSL defender Cameron Knowles. The referee pointed to the spot and Marquez stepped up to take it, but the low, hard shot was tipped outside the post by Nolly.

The home side pressured the Mexican club all over the field in the first half. At one point Jamie Watson forced goalkeeper Moises Munoz to give a throw-in deep in Morelia territory.

In the 25th minute Mehdi Ballouchy curled a free kick from 23 yards that curled around the wall and on frame and caused Munoz to made a desperate save, pushing the ball out of play.

A few minutes later Ryan Johnson played a brisk diagonal ball through the Morelia defense that found Watson. But the young RSL striker banged his shot straight at Munoz, who slapped the chance out of danger.

Things began falling apart for Salt Lake in the 40th minute. Walter Montillo blazed through the RSL midfield and defense, carrying the ball for 40 yards. He unleashed a strike that was parried away by Nolly. But the deflection fell to Marquez, who easily put in Morelia's first goal of the evening.

A host of substitutions were made by both sides at halftime as the match only increased in intensity. Morelia seemed to find its form as the game went and RSL found itself constantly defending wave after wave of attacks.

Marquez tallied his second goal in the 57th minute. He was the beneficiary of a well-placed diagonal pass from Luis Gabriel Rey that beat the Salt Lake defense. Marquez hit a first-time shot that beat Nolly and skipped into the net.

The tension reached its peak in the 61st minute when Nikolas Besagno was fouled by Hector Altamirano. A scuffle ensued that attracted the attention of all 22 players on the field. Shoves and words were exchanged; Nelson Akwari received a yellow card during the commotion as did Altamirano.

The Salt Lake defense continued to repel the Morelia attack. In a crowded frenzy Nolly managed to get a hand up as he was falling backward to keep the ball out of the net. One of his defenders was able to clean up and clear it out of play.

Morelia hit for a third in the 75th minute when Marquez slipped a sneaky shot under Nolly before the RSL 'keeper upended the Morelia goal scorer. Nolly received a yellow card on the play.

Real finally got on the scoreboard in the final minute. Ballouchy whipped in a high freekick from the flank, across the face of the goal. Waiting on the back post was Salt Lake native Adam Acosta, who was able to tap in for his first goal with the first team.

August 24th, 2005 RSL vs Jamaica's Harbor View FC

RSL ties with Harbor View 1-1

June 8th, 2005 RSL vs Chile's CD Universidad Catolica

RSL wins 3-2.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A letter from the Godfather

(by Jason Kreis 12-3-09)

To the RSL Nation:

The smile hasn’t left my face in a week, but I have a message for our fans, all of you, whether you have been there since day one over five years ago, or whether you put us on your radar on that fateful Sunday, Nov. 22, 2009.

We have no more time to bask in the glory of our first title – our early February report date for training camp is mere weeks away, and our March 27 opener at San Jose kicks off our title defense. I personally cannot wait to see you all at Rio Tinto Stadium when we host Seattle on April 10!

As I write this, I am assembling my itinerary to travel both domestically and internationally in the coming weeks to bolster the depth, breadth and quality of our roster as we prepare for meaningful international competition, something we will enjoy as a club for the first time ever in 2010. Long-term, we look to build Real Salt Lake into the dynasty that our ownership and fans deserve.

But I wanted to take a quick moment to thank you, the fans, our lifeblood, for your faith and belief in us as we captured MLS Cup 2009. As you have been for five years, you were our heartbeat in Seattle – you were felt, seen and heard all over the city. The sea of RSL claret-and-cobalt evident in the video and pictures from the match (and SLC Int’l Airport, and the Utah State Capitol, and State Street, and Rio Tinto Stadium last week) made it clear to the world that our declarations about the best fans in Major League Soccer calling Utah home were not hyperbole, were not bluster – they are the truth.

As I communicated to our players in the Qwest Field locker room two Sundays ago: Be confident, be bold, be aggressive.

Now I want to let all of you know, my message to the players, the staff, and the entire organization, of which you are an integral part, is that now is not the time to be complacent – efforts by all of us who love RSL and are responsible for both its short-term and long-term prosperity must be redoubled and rededicated.

Be confident as a fan of RSL. Wear your Championship colors with pride, with boldness. Be aggressive in helping us educate our city, our state, our region about not only what we have accomplished in 2009, but our long-term goals for 2010 and beyond.

I implore you to renew your season tickets, if you haven’t already. I ask you to take advantage of our Christmas ticket specials in order to expose your friends and family to the magic of our sport, and help us continue to establish Rio Tinto Stadium as the most dominant home-field advantage in MLS, and hopefully CONCACAF.

As I told our players again at halftime and throughout the game: It is our time.

We want to prove that our first title is the first step of many, as we pursue additional hardware. Throughout our scintillating run through the postseason, we were empowered by belief – in ourselves, shared by few outside the locker room, and even fewer outside Utah.

But you believed, and because of that, we are Champions.

It is our time.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Red Bull stadium renderings

The first version of Red Bull stadium.

The final version, opening 2010.

RSL Sandy stadium renderings

The first of the Sandy stadium renderings which caused just a little bit of an uproar amongst fans due to the cheerleaders present on the pitch. Sacrilege.

The second rendering of the stadium. This was in the "ReAL City" phase when Checketts introduced the idea of building a whole downtown area using the stadium as "ReAL City's" centerpiece.

Another round of renderings was released which turned out to be the approved designs for the stadium. Fans were left wondering if the stadium would actually have dirt around the field.


A few more "artistic" renderings.

The final image of the stadium, released shortly before the stadium was completed.