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.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

RSL's 2010 US Open Cup

Date -
Round - MLS play in game #1
Opponent - San Jose Earthquakes
Stadium -
Score - RSL 5 - San Jose Earthquakes 4

Team advances in Cup with shootout win

(by Michael Black 4-15-10)

Real Salt Lake is making a reputation as a clutch team. After blowing a two-goal lead in regulation, it took RSL penalty kicks to beat the San Jose Earthquakes 5-4 in a shootout for a play-in game to qualify for the Lamar Hunt United States Open Cup.

Real went a perfect 5-for-5 in the shootout as Will Johnson, Kyle Beckerman, Robbie Findley, Robbie Russell and Andy Williams all converted their attempts, and San Jose's hero earlier, Arturo Alvarez — who scored in the 88th minute to force extra time — missed as the first shooter for the Quakes

"I was thinking as the game was winding down, 'I haven't had a lot of luck in Open Cup matches,' " said coach Jason Kreis in a radio interview. "Hopefully, this win will reverse some of that luck."

The game went back forth with several momentum swings. Just like in the two teams' MLS opener 18 days ago, Real got on the board early. In the seventh minute, Robbie Findley scored on a one-on-one chance, beating keeper Jon Busch.

Nelson Gonzalez added to the lead in the 60th minute. The Argentinean midfielder scored on a free kick from 22 yards with a left-foot blast that bent around the wall for the 2-0 lead.

Chris Leitch scored in the 69th minute for San Jose, and Alvarez evened it with just two minutes of regulation remaining.

San Jose went up in the 103rd minute as Justin Morrow scored on an Alvarez assist. But Real equalized when Nat Borchers scored on a header in the 117th minute.

Kyle Reynish started in goal for Nick Rimando as Real used an interesting mix of veterans and youngsters in its lineup. The midfield had rookie Collen Warner and second-year pro Jean Alexandre starting in the middle, before Williams and Beckerman entered. Rauwshan McKenzie got the start at the back. Unfortunately, a nightmare scenario occurred when starter Chris Wingert was replaced early by Robbie Russell with a strained hamstring.

Real moves on in the Open Cup to face either D.C. United or F.C. Dallas next month. The team must regroup for its fourth MLS game of the season at the Home Depot Center on Saturday against the Los Angeles Galaxy.


Date - June 2nd, 2010
Round - MLS play in game #2
Opponent - DC United
Stadium - RFK Stadium
Score - DC United 2 - RSL 1

Real Salt Lake misses berth in U.S. Open Cup

(by James Edwards 6-3-10)

On the road, in the heat and with four missing regulars, Wednesday night's U.S. Open Cup qualifier against D.C. United was always going to be a tough task for Real Salt Lake.

RSL fought through the adversity admirably, but in the end actually made a tough situation worse.

With an approach primarily geared toward stealing a late victory at RFK Stadium, RSL failed to finish a winner in regulation and ended up falling to D.C. United 2-1 after 30 extra minutes.

D.C. United substitute Andy Najar provided the winning goal with a fantastic individual effort in the 107th minute as he dribbled between Will Johnson and Tony Beltran and buried a low drive shot past keeper Kyle Reynish.

The victory officially qualified D.C. United for the 40-team Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, while RSL will once again be watching the rest of the tournament from home.

"I walk away from that very proud of what our players put into it, very proud of the effort they gave; there was never any die in our team," said RSL coach Jason Kreis.

These teams meet again on Saturday in a league match, a quick turnaround that definitely factored into Kreis' lineup decisions.

With RSL's numerous injuries and a very busy schedule later this summer, Kreis admits bowing out of the U.S. Open Cup isn't necessarily a bad thing in the long run. It's not what he wanted, though, by any means.

"Who knows, in the next round of games we could have everybody fresh and lots of players that need and want games. I'm never going to say it's a good situation (to lose)," said Kreis.

With only 17 healthy players to choose from, and the chance for a sixth straight league victory on Saturday, Kreis put a mix of regulars and reserves into his starting 11. Following 60 scoreless minutes with a handful decent chances by both teams, Kreis made three aggressive, attacking-oriented changes.

By inserting Javier Morales, Fabian Espindola and May's MLS Player of the Month Alvaro Saborio into the match, Kreis wanted to go after the victory.

"It's not fair to say that was the plan, but being the situation it was in the 60th minute, OK, we go forward with what we did," said Kreis.

In the end, it was D.C. United that struck first in the 73rd minute from the penalty spot.

RSL rookie midfielder Collen Warner was whistled for a handball in the box, spoiling a fantastic one-on-one save by Reynish on Jordan Graye. The rebound, however, fell to Chris Pontius whose bicycle-kick attempt deflected off Warner's hand.

Luciano Emilio calmly buried the penalty for the 1-0 lead.

It didn't take Real Salt Lake long to find the equalizer though. In the 80th minute, Espindola's cross glanced off the arm of Barry Rice and the ref immediately pointed to the spot. Will Johnson took the penalty and kicked up the middle past Troy Perkins, who dove right, to level the score at 1-1.

In the final 10 minutes of regulation, Real Salt Lake had numerous half-chances to bury a winner, but it couldn't capitalize on the quality possession in the offensive third and was forced to play 30 more minutes in the heat.

In overtime, RSL outshot D.C. 8-3, but again couldn't find a winner.

United, which improved to 4-0-2 all-time against RSL at RFK Stadium, finally broke through in the 107th minute on a clear defensive breakdown. Both Johnson or Beltran could've easily closed down Najar in the penalty area, but a moment of indecision by both allowed him to slip between them for the easy goal.

RSL's best chance for an equalizer came from overtime substitute Luis Gil who had a shot cleared off the line in the 118th minute.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Crew take undisputed 2009 Super Cup

Columbus Crew Win 2008 MLS Cup

(by asn staff 11-23-08)

Major League Soccer’s newly-crowned MVP was front and center at the league’s showpiece game at Home Depot Center Sunday afternoon, as the Columbus Crew beat the New York Red Bulls to win MLS Cup 2008. The man in question, Guillermo Barros Schelotto, set up all three Columbus goals to win his team its first MLS Cup.

With the victory, Columbus becomes the first Supporters’ Shield winner to capture the elusive ‘double’ since the LA Galaxy in 2002. It is the fifth time in 13 years that the Supporters’ Shield champions have won MLS Cup after DC United (1996, 1997), Kansas City (2000) and the Galaxy six years ago.

Chad Marshall’s winning goal came off a Columbus corner kick just 87 seconds after John Wolyniec had equalized for New York. Previously, Columbus forward Alejandro Moreno opened the scoring in the 31st minute.

Schelotto nearly added to his tally in the 76th minute, shooting the ball off the crossbar. Red Bulls goalkeeper Danny Cepero was beaten on the shot, which almost definitely would have decided the game in Columbus’ favor had it gone in.

Instead, the deciding goal came five minutes later. Frankie Hejduk headed it over Cepero to give Columbus a 3-1 lead that stood until the final whistle.

New York dominated the game for much of the first half, particularly the first 30 minutes. But John Wolyniec (13th minute), Dane Richards (22′), Kevin Goldthwaite (18′) and Juan Pablo Angel (29′) were unable to find the net. Moreno’s breakaway goal appeared to take the wind out of the Red Bulls’ sails.


Saturday, June 18, 2011

Super Cup history

There is a constant battle of opinions going on in the world of MLS fans when it comes to should the league be more "American" or more "European."

Those that think the league should resemble those in Europe more are referred to as Euro-snobs. Those that think it should be more "American" are usually reminded that the league used to take a more "American" approach but it failed to capture the interest of a very educated soccer population in this country.

Schedules, playoffs, single table or not, relegation, etc. are always open for discussion. But perhaps the biggest of them all is who is the league's true champion, MLS Cup winner or Supporter Shield winner?

"American" fans will say MLS Cup winner, "Euro-snobs" will say Supporter Shield winner.

I constantly go back and forth because I can see the benefit of both parties' arguments.

So awhile back I floated the idea on BigSoccer that the league should play a Super Cup game pitting the MLS Cup winner against the Supporter Shield winner. I suggested it be the first game of the following year or could even be played in the off season as a charity match to raise money for a worthy cause.

Not too many agreed with me or some thought it was a good idea but that it would never happen because it was gimmicky. I still think it is a good idea.

Anyway, so recently I went back through the leagues schedules to see who would have won the Super Cup had it been contested. To keep it simple I just looked at the first game played between the two teams the following year no matter whose home pitch it was played on.

It was fun and kept me entertained for a few days as I went back through the old schedules and looked for articles about the games.

Here is what I came up with;

1997 - unknown (Tampa Bay won the Supporters Shield, DC United won MLS Cup. I haven't been able to find a schedule that goes that far back to see who won their first game in 1997.)

1998 - DC United undisputed

1999 - unknown (LA won the Supporters Shield, Chicago won MLS Cup. Still looking for a schedule for 1999 season.)

2000 - DC United undisputed

2001 - Kansas City Wizards undisputed

2002 - Not Contested (Miami Fusion won the Supporters Shield, San Jose won MLS Cup. Miami Fusion went out of business in 2002 leaving the Super Cup uncontested.)

2003 - LA Galaxy undisputed

2004 - Chicago Fire (Played San Jose on May 10th in Chicago to a 0 - 0 draw. They met again on May 31st in San Jose and Chicago won 4 - 1.)

2005 - DC United (Played Columbus Crew on May 8th in DC to a 1 - 1 draw. They met again on June 19th in DC again and the Crew were beaten 3 - 1.)

2006 - Not Contested (This game would have been epic. San Jose vs LA, but unfortunately San Jose moved to Houston 2006 due to stadium issues. I chose not look at the first Houston vs LA game of 2006. That wouldn't be fair to the San Jose fans.)

2007 - DC United (Played Houston on April 15th in DC and won 2 - 0.)

2008 - DC United (Played Houston on May 26th in DC and won 2 - 1.)

2009 and beyond look for subsequent posts with photos and articles.


I also invisioned a big ass trophy that would stand out, black, like some ancient greek pottery that all leagues around the world would envy.

Anyway, it could happen.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Long-awaited day finally arrives for SKC

( 6-9-11)

Davy Arnaud woke up Sunday night and prodded his wife awake.

It was 3 a.m., but Arnaud couldn’t sleep. He had Sporting Kansas City’s looming stadium opening on the brain. After an hour tossing and turning, SKC’s captain started wondering how he was going to get through a week of thinking about and anticipating something so many years in the making.

Four days later, everything is finally winding down for Arnaud. He’ll have no more sleepless nights. No more time to kill. The wait is over.

“It’s been tough, man,” he said. “You see it in the distance and the future, but you have other games to worry about before then. But now that we are coming home, I can’t even describe it.”

After years of planning, preparing and, finally, building, the day is finally here. Sporting Kansas City will open Livestrong Sporting Park on Thursday night in front of a national television audience on ESPN2 (10 p.m. ET), kicking off a new phase in the club’s history and giving Major League Soccer another gem to display to the world.

A little before 9 p.m. CT, Arnaud will lead his teammates through the field club and out the midfield tunnel for the first time. More than 18,000 fans will pack the seats, suites, clubs and concourses, soaking in their first opportunity to experience the $200 million venue that Sporting are trumpeting as the most technologically advanced stadium in the league and possible the country.

And as special as the night will be, it’s important to remember that it almost didn’t happen.

Livestrong Sporting Park and Sporting Kansas City only exist in their current forms because of the dedication and determination of Sporting’s ownership group, who picked up where Lamar Hunt left off and sunk millions of their own dollars into making what was once just a dream, and a longshot at that, into a reality.

Leading that charge was club president Robb Heineman. And Forget Sunday night. This is a day and an occasion that Heineman has been dreaming about for close to a decade.

“It’s something that I’ve thought about daily, nightly for the last seven years,” Heineman said. “Once opening night comes and goes, I’m not sure what I’ll dream about. It’s an incredibly proud moment. There were lots of bumps in the road, and we really kind of had to thread the needle to make it happen.”

But in the end — with the help of local government — Sporting’s thread finally slipped through the needle’s eye. Ground was broken. The first beam was put in place. The place went up in a mindboggling 16 months and is as good or better than anyone involved could have imagined.

The players rave about the immaculate field and world-class locker rooms. The fans love the intimate atmosphere, attention to detail and acres of premium space. The community as a whole is just happy Kansas City’s professional soccer club finally has a home to call their own.

As soon as the final whistle blew last Saturday night in Toronto, the focus immediately shifted to the occasion that awaited them on Thursday night. There are just hours left before the doors open now.

And the general consensus is that they can’t get here soon enough.

“It’s just a feeling of ‘Wow, here it comes. It’s almost here,’” defender Michael Harrington said. “I can only imagine once game time rolls around. It will be something special.”