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.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Philadelphia opens their new stadium


Union's new soccer stadium gets good reviews in debut

(by Jeff Gamage 6-28-10)

Plenty of Philadelphia Union soccer fans went to the game worried.

Not about the Seattle Sounders, who were whipped by the home team, 3-1.

But about traffic. And parking. About all that could go wrong when 18,500 people pour into a tight space, with a major parking lot that's still rock and dirt, and highway exits that remain under construction.

But at the first game at PPL Park - so new that even the employees were trying to figure out exactly what was where - things went mostly right Sunday evening.

Traffic was delayed in places but not impassable, fans said, and just about all were in their seats when the game began at 5 p.m. Long lines of cars snaked their way out of the stadium when the match ended.

"On a scale of 1 to 10, for opening a building, we're at a 9," said Tom Veit, the team president. "From what I've seen so far, I'm extremely happy."

The stadium stands on the Delaware River waterfront just south of the Commodore Barry Bridge, in the impoverished city of Chester. Team officials promised sufficient security for the game, given that city officials declared a state of emergency after four shooting deaths in eight days.

The team also promised that parking would be adequate - and that its parking plan would be a season-long work in progress. Both statements seemed true yesterday.

The Union provided 4,000 parking spaces on two big lots near the stadium and 3,000 to 4,000 at four satellite lots. The closest of those lots was half a mile away, the farthest more than a mile. Shuttle buses provided free transportation for fans in the far lots, though some chose to walk.

Jesse Nelson, 39, of Oaklyn, was not thrilled that he paid $15 to park in a grass-and-dirt lot, then walked 15 minutes through sweltering heat to the stadium. Cars were jammed into the lot, he said, and he worried how he would extract his vehicle after the game.

Kay St. Jean, 67, of Mount Laurel, said that she walked about 10 minutes through a weed-strewn area from her parking lot, but that for a first game at a new stadium, the logistics worked well.

"It was a little confusing about the nonpermit parking, but they've done a wonderful job," she said.

The closest SEPTA train stopped at the Chester Transportation Center, at Sixth and Welsh Streets, with shuttle service from there to PPL Park. Initial reports were that the line was having heavier than usual ridership.

The sold-out crowd went beyond sold out, reaching a final attendance of 18,755 in a stadium that officially seats 18,500. The arena was configured to generate intimacy and noise, and fans had plenty of both Sunday.

The noise from the stands was loud throughout, and the referees were booed mercilessly as they left the field at halftime, proving that you can take the fans out of Philadelphia, but you can't take Philadelphia out of the fans.

The stadium's east side, designated the "Supporters Section" and given over to fans who plan to stand, sing, cheer, and chant during the entire game, was a noise machine. The fanatical Sons of Ben fan club hung a sign from the rail of the first seats, naming the section "The River End."

Sunday's game took place not just in a new stadium but in the shadow of the World Cup and the excitement it generates. The U.S. loss to Ghana did not dampen enthusiasm for the Union.

From the start - actually for hours before - fans were wild to see the first-year team at its $122 million stadium. Hundreds were on hand by noon - five hours before the start.

"We were a little nervous about the parking, so we got here a little early," said Ira Wilson IV, 36, at the game with his father, Ira Wilson III.

Everyone seemed to be dressed in Union blue and gold, drums beat loudly, and chants and songs echoed across the grounds.

"You can just feel the passion," said Kirsten Hosack, 23, of North Wales, a season-ticket holder. She and her sister, Lauren Hosack, 21, and their friend Steve Edling, 24, had arrived hours early, worried about the traffic.

But few fans seemed to be thinking about anything but soccer - and the new stadium.

"It's young right now," said Eric Berger, 48, of Bryn Mawr, at the game with his wife, Lynda, 41. "It's a great-looking stadium."

The team played its first two home games at Lincoln Financial Field while waiting for PPL Park to be completed. The stadium offers seating close to the field and excellent sight lines even from from the least-expensive seats. The Union plans to survey fans on virtually every aspect of the first-game experience - from parking to food quality - beginning Monday morning.

Team and government officials opened the stadium not by cutting a ribbon, but by throwing a giant light switch - appropriate for a stadium named for an energy company.

"Enjoy it," team chief executive officer Nick Sakiewicz told fans gathered for the official ceremony before the game. "Enhance it. Make it your own."

They did.

Monday, June 28, 2010

RSL uniforms, 2010 (champions patch and Victory Gold)

2010 home colors

2010 away white

On May 15th RSL came up with a new uniform combination for the exhibition game against the U21 Mexican national team, red home with away white socks.

Victory Gold made it's debut on the road against Kansas City

RSL then wore the new yellow 3rd jersey once again against Philadelphia

Monday, June 21, 2010

June 19th, 2010 RSL vs Costa Rica's Puntarenas FC

RSL wins 2-0


Real Salt Lake beat visiting Puntarenas FC

(by Randy Davis 6-20-10)

Real Salt Lake managed a 2-0 victory against visiting Costa Rican team Puntarenas F.C. in a friendly match at Rio Tinto Stadium on Saturday night.

Javier Morales and Pablo Campos each found the net to lead their team to victory.

Real Salt Lake opened the match with a healthy mix of starters and reserves, and lined up in their typical 4-4-2 diamond formation. Puntarenas, on the other hand, showed a 4-3-3 setup.

In the first half, both teams appeared to lack sharpness and energy, as there were a few missed passes and poorly timed tackles. However it was Real Salt Lake that created all of the chances in the opening stanza, with eight shots to zero for their opponent.

All but one of those shots came from distances of about 20 to 30 yards from goal. The lone exception was a play in which forward Fabian Espindola carried the ball from midfield, using his pace and skill to weave through the defense, but his shot from inside the box didn’t challenge Puntarenas goalkeeper Bryan Zamora.

In the 40th minute, Campos beat his marker and was about to retrieve the ball ahead of the defense just outside of the area when he was pulled to the ground, earning a free kick. Morales then stepped up to that spot and tucked a nifty ball into the upper right corner of the net for the first score on the night.

The second half started out in stark contrast to the first, with both sides playing sharp, lively soccer.

Real Salt Lake had two good chances just four minutes in. First, Alvaro Saborio got his head on a cross about eight yards out, but Puntarenas substitute keeper Olger Ruiz managed to get his legs on it. The rebound found its way to the feet of Ned Grabavoy, whose blast was cleared off the line by a defender.

In the 55th minute, the home side would manage to double their lead off of a nice goal by Campos. Grabavoy sprang Campos down the left side and, as the Ruiz leaned toward the near post, the RSL striker punched the ball with his right foot over the keeper’s shoulder and into the top of the net.

Although Puntarenas threatened at times, they weren’t able to force reserve goalkeeper Kyle Reynish to make any acrobatic saves and managed just a single shot for the entire game.

Real Salt Lake Coach Jason Kreis appeared somewhat disappointed in what his charges were able to accomplish in this friendly match,

“We got the guys out there in a match experience with referees and a crowd, so it was good, but—I’ll leave it at that,” said Kreis. “Evidence would show that they are a team that’s in preseason, and maybe they are in two-a-days, and they also got here late last night.”

Despite the disappointment, he feels that the match ended up being a good tune-up for his side as they look forward to resuming league play on Friday, June 25, against the San Jose Earthquakes.

"There were some other separate goals – getting guys like Jean Alexandre extended minutes; Chris Schuler, getting him some of his first minutes with the first team at center back, and Luis Gil got a little bit of a run," Kreis said. "[But] our biggest goal was to get the guys prepared for next weekend [against San Jose]."

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

New York/New Jersey logos

2006 - present

2003 - 2005

1996 - 2002

(more to come)

LA Galaxy logos

2008 - present

1996 - 2007

Colorado Rapids logos

2007 - present

2002 - 2006

1996 - 2001

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Vuvuzela drone killing World Cup atmosphere

(by John Leicester 6-13-10)

The constant drone of cheap and tuneless plastic horns is killing the atmosphere at the World Cup.

Where are the loud choruses of "Oooohhsss" from enthralled crowds when a shot scorches just wide of the goalpost? And the sharp communal intake of breath, the shrill "Aaahhhhss," when a goalkeeper makes an acrobatic, match-winning save? Or the humorous/moving/offensive football chants and songs?

Mostly, they're being drowned out by the unrelenting water-torture beehive hummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm of South African vuvuzela trumpets. Damn them. They are stripping World Cup 2010 of football's aural artistry.

Vuvuzela apologists - a few more weeks of this brainless white noise will perhaps change, or melt, their minds - defend the din as simply part of the South African experience. Each country to its own, they say. When in Rome, blah, blah, blah.

Which would be fine if this was purely a South African competition. Fans could then legitimately hoot away to their hearts' content while annoying no one other than their immediate neighbors.

But this is the World Cup, a celebration of the 32 nations that qualified and of all the others that did not but which still play and love the game. Hosting planet football brings responsibilities. At the very least, South Africa should ensure that the hundreds of millions of visitors who come in goodwill to its door, both in person and via the magic of television, do not go home with a migraine. How many TV viewers who long for a more nuanced soundtrack to go with the show have already concluded that the only way to enjoy this World Cup is by pressing mute on their remote?

In Tweeting "No offense to the vuvuzela posse but, man, it's a bit much," seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong was not alone.

Attending or watching a match should be a feast for both the eyes and the ears. Those two senses work better together, each augmenting the other.

Sounds should ebb and flow like tides with the fortunes on the field. That adds to the drama. Fans reacting with their voices to action on the pitch, to events in the stadium and to each other's sounds, songs and chants are part of football's theater.

A sudden crowd silence can also tell a story - perhaps of the heartbreak of a late, defeat-inflicting goal or of the collective shock of seeing a player horribly injured by a bad tackle. Sometimes, you should even be able to hear a coach bark orders from the touchline or players shouting at each other for the ball.

There are stadium sounds other than vuvuzelas at this World Cup - just not enough of them. They are being bullied into submission by the trumpets' never-ending screech.

In Rustenburg there were scattered unison chants of "In-ger-land, In-ger-land," a few bars of "God Save the Queen" and the occasional "USA! USA!" when England played the United States on Saturday night. But vuvuzelas ultimately won the battle of the bands. They and the result - a disappointing 1-1 tie - silenced England's fans, who usually are among the best-drilled noisemakers in football.

They take their singing seriously, with chants that are cheeky, taunting and often just insulting. But at least they are inventive, too.

The same cannot be said of vuvuzelas. They are simply mindless. Their pitch doesn't change, just the intensity. Blow hard. Blow soft. The only range is from horrifically loud to just annoyingly so. Because of that, we absolutely could not hear the rich African voices of Ghana fans who sang lustily Sunday at the Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria, vibrantly clothed in their national colors of green and red. What a shame.

Please, South Africa, make the trumpets stop. Give us a song, instead.

The same cannot be said of vuvuzelas. They are simply mindless. Their pitch doesn't change, only the intensity. Blow hard. Blow soft. The only range is from horrifically loud to just annoyingly so.

Please, South Africa, make them stop. Give us a song, instead.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Seattle drink, sing, support

Montreal and Bob Marley

Montreal fans will be a nice addition to the league here in a couple of years. That dragon looks familiar.

Toronto loves their Star Wars

A couple of months ago it was Yoda, now its the Dark Side. Gotta give 'em credit.

Seattle loves their Keller

Chicago fans lighting it up at Red Bull Arena (season opener)

Columbus tifo

I always wanted to do this with RSL players, cartoon them on a giant banner. Couldn't ever figure out a good way to do it though.

Bow Chicka Wow Wow

Chuck, I'd like to buy a vowel.

Ok, which one?

I'll buy an A please.

Friday, June 11, 2010

(more to come)
(more to come)