Welcome to the RSL Cup blog

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. Lately however I've started to worry about the path MLS is taking and the poor decisions they are making that in my mind threaten the growth of soccer as a whole in the US. (see "Columbus conspiracy" section) Soccer in America will grow only when we have a vibrant and diverse minor league system, something that MLS seems to be smothering at the moment. (see "American soccer wars" section) Let's keep our eyes on the situation and hope for the best, a future where grass-roots soccer and the minor leagues can not only exist but flourish, as well as where the contributions and history of the league's early clubs are appreciated and preserved.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Friday, February 24, 2012

Something to "Believe" in



(by Randy Davis realsaltlake.com 2-19-12)

Last week, Branden Steineckert released his “Believe” video, which contains a simple four-line chant that ties a number of key elements together in an effective, functional and artistic way. And it appears that RSL players, staff, and, perhaps most importantly, fans, have gotten on board, envisioning this as a new anthem for the team.

In addition, some believe that this could be a landmark moment, not just for the club, but perhaps the entire sport in this country.

“I think it’s awesome,” said goalkeeper Nick Rimando, who has become close friends with Steineckert. “I think this country needs something like that. Branden has the desire and passion, not only for this team, but for soccer. So for him to step up and show his pride in that song is huge not only for our team, but for this country.”

Writing the song, and giving it the message and characteristics that he desired, was no easy task.

“It was tricky and new for me because I just don’t have much experience in that (type of song),” admitted the 33 year-old drummer after attending a Supporter’s Group Summit held at Rio Tinto Stadium. Steineckert isn’t a member of any supporters group, but counts himself among RSL’s biggest fans.

“It was tricky because I knew what we needed and that created these parameters. I knew it needed to be short. I knew it needed to be easy to memorize. I knew it needed to be neutral in the way that it didn’t cater to one type of person or fan, but, at the same time, I didn’t want it to come across like we’re pushovers and we’re singing some la la la jingle.

“This needs to come across prideful, and this needs to come across intimidating,” he continued, “but, at the same time, something that a little kid can sing. It needed a melody that sounds like a classic soccer song, but I didn’t want to bite off like English or European or a different club’s melody. I didn't want to make it sound like just a drinking song. So it just got more and more narrow. And then the words … I wanted to talk about Real and talk about our stadium.”

And then came the video – and a whole new set of parameters. Steineckert teamed up with talented videographer and RSL fan, Isaac Halasima, to bring to life a video that had been in Steineckert’s mind’s eye since he first dreamed up the song.

“With the video, I’m not worried about making it family-friendly,” said Steineckert. “I’m not worried about making it edgy. I’m worried about making it fan-friendly, and our fans are not one particular type of person. But we unite - just like 60 people did in this video. We unite 20,000 strong here, and I truly believe that unity and camaraderie are what make this place a fortress, and this team and this family so powerful.”

Since the video was posted on Youtube on February 13 it’s had over 22,000 views. Steineckert has received reaction from fans across the league and overseas, but his most precious review came from a source closer to home.

“I had (RSL Coach Jason) Kreis’s email and I sent it to him, and he loved it and wrote me this long email back just expressing his appreciation and how much his family liked it. I did not expect that. I didn’t expect a reply let alone the enthusiasm that he had in this email that I’ll save forever. And that one reply just lit a fire under me.”

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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Monday, February 20, 2012

LA battle Colorado to take 2011 Super Cup

Shorthanded Galaxy stifle 10-man Rapids for 3-1 win

(by Nick Thomas mlsnet.com 6-18-11)

The LA Galaxy may have been missing both Landon Donovan and David Beckham, but they still ran out comfortable 3-1 winners over a 10-man Colorado Rapids at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park on Saturday night.

The defending champions saw their nine-game unbeaten streak snapped thanks to an own-goal from Drew Moor, a wonder-strike from Juninho and a late insurance goal that iced the victory for LA.

Colorado seemed to have the bulk of possession in the first half-hour but it was the Galaxy who took the lead against the run of play. In the 25th minute, Miguel López placed a deft ball behind the Rapids defense for Chris Birchall, who was able to cross into Moor’s path.

The Rapids defender, who scored the winner in stoppage time last week against Portland, was unable to control the cross, turning it into his own net from close range. The Rapids players complained that the ball had gone out of play before Birchall was able to get his cross in.

Moor almost made up for that mistake with a strong close-range header from a corner in the 41st minute, but could only head it over the bar. A minute later, it was 2-0 as LA midfielder Juninho picked the ball up and placed a right-footed cracker from 25 yards out into the corner of Matt Pickens’ net.

Rapids coach Gary Smith made an aggressive lineup change at halftime, bringing on Omar Cummings for his first action since suffering an ankle injury on May 4. That gave Colorado three forwards on the pitch, with starters Conor Casey and Caleb Folan.

The old combination of Cummings and Casey proved fruitful in the 64th minute as the Jamaican dribbled into the penalty area and hit a low, right-footed shot against the post. The ball rebounded into Casey’s path and he tapped into the empty net to bring the Rapids to within one.

But their rally was stopped short 10 minutes later as Folan was red-carded for a harsh challenge on Juninho. The Galaxy capitalized in the 81st minute as second-half substitute Barrett latched onto a cross from Todd Dunivant inside the penalty area to seal the game.

With the win, the Western Conference-leading Galaxy improve to 9-2-7; they next travel to California rivals San Jose on June 25. The Rapids, meanwhile, drop to 5-4-7 and have not won at home since April 3. They next travel to Columbus on June 26.

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2010 Super Cup preview



Beckham, Arena downplay the hype

(by Larry Morgan lagalaxy.com 6-16-11)

The LA Galaxy’s David Beckham remembers watching last season’s MLS Cup between Colorado and FC Dallas and found it a particularly frustrating experience, knowing he and his Galaxy teammates had designs of being in Toronto on that cold, November night and playing for the league title.

Now it is almost seven months later, and the Galaxy (8-2-7) are about to take on the defending champion Rapids (5-3-7) on Saturday in Commerce City, Colo., in the teams’ first meeting of the season. But if you’re looking for any extra incentive on the Galaxy’s part, you won’t find it.

Not a lot of it anyway.

“I don’t think it matters who you come up against. This is a new season,” Beckham said Thursday. “They deserved it last season, it’s a new season and we need to concentrate on what we do and what we can focus on.

“If you want to win things, you have to come up against the best teams and the best players.”

Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena also downplayed any possibility of extra incentive in Saturday’s match.

“You can make that all you want it to be, but it’s over with,” he said. “That was last year, and this year is a different situation. We’re going to Colorado to play a good team and we want to try and get three points.

‘”I don’t think anyone’s even mentioned (incentive), to be honest with you. The way our league goes, you kind of forget real quick who won the championship the year before. You don’t have time to be thinking about it a whole lot.”

Defender Todd Dunivant was one of the few Galaxy players who said the air will be a little different on Saturday, and it had nothing to do with the high altitude at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.

“Yeah, there’s incentive,” he said, “because they did what we wanted to do last year. They got hot at the right time, went all the way and won the championship. There’s certainly more in it for us.

“These guys are the champs until somebody says otherwise.”

Added forward Mike Magee, “The thing I noticed last year when we played (2009 champion) Salt Lake was they got the crest on their jersey and had a target on their back.

“I remember watching the final last year and having a bitter taste in my mouth, thinking it should have been us. All those things definitely will be on my mind.”

But not the only thing, others players said. The regular season is at the halfway point, and the Galaxy simply are looking for a victory against a team that has been tough on them away from The Home Depot Center. The Galaxy are 8-15-4 all-time on the road against Colorado, although they did claim their first-ever win at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park 1-0 last May 5.

“When you’re playing the prior champion you always want to play a little harder and give a little bit extra,” goalkeeper Josh Saunders said. “But we’re treating this game like we need three points.

“They are the reigning champions, but we need the three points. That’s more important than anything.”

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Crew battle RSL to take 2010 Super Cup



RSL reach end of tough opening stretch

Defending champs lick their wounds after Columbus loss

(by Randy Davis 4-25-10 mlssoccer.com)

Real Salt Lake coach Jason Kreis has referred to the first five games this season
against some of the top competition in the league as a measuring stick of how
strong his club could be this season.

After Saturday’s 1-0 loss to the Columbus Crew, the defending champs have to be
concerned what to make of Kreis’ postgame assessment as “very, very
discouraged.”

Real Salt Lake had an opportunity to change the complexion early on in this
match. Álvaro Saborío received a gift from an ill-advised pass-back to goalkeeper Will Hesmer, but he lost his footing on the soggy grass and couldn’t get a shot off at the temporarily open net.

The defending MLS Chp champs can also attribute their rough start to struggling with set pieces. They’ve given up three penalty kicks in just five games -- capped by Guillermo Barros Schelotto’s game-winner on Saturday -- and all but two of the seven goals allowed have come off of free kicks, throw-ins or penalties.

“I’m really disappointed that we’ve given up so many
penalties,” defender Nat Borchers said.

Although Kreis refused to comment on some of the key decisions by referee’s in this one,
Borchers was less tight-lipped.

“There were some very strange calls in the game,” Borchers said. “And some calls that
would raise some eyebrows to most unbiased fans.”

For the second straight match, RSL had to improvise with the lineup. Chris Wingert
and Ned Grabavoy were out for the second match in a row, and Javier Morales and
Robbie Findley both came on in the second half, but weren’t deemed ready for 90
minutes of action. Their insertion in
the second half provided a spark as RSL had been chasing the game, but it was
too little, too late.

“I think it’s most important that we have faith in ourselves and then it helps to have a coaching staff that works with us and reminds that we did it all last year and we had a bad record in the beginning," goalkeeper Nick Rimando said. "Ours isn’t too bad right now – there’s worse out there – so we’re going home for the next three games and if we get nine points out of that, then good, but if not, we’ve still got a long season.”

First-year player Collen Warner received his first MLS start as Kreis looked for help in the midfield among the wounded. The University of Portland star played well in the U.S. Open Cup play-in game against San Jose earlier this month, and was rewarded in last Saturday’s match against the LA Galaxy when he came on in the 64th minute for his first appearance in league play.

Real Salt Lake will play four of their next five games at home, starting next week against Toronto FC.

“We wanted to get more points out of this road stretch,” Borchers mentioned. “But
we know that we’re very good at home.”

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MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER
QUOTESHEET
SATURDAY, APRIL 24, 2010

COLUMBUS CREW STADIUM
– COLUMBUS, OH

COLUMBUS CREW 1
: 0 REAL SALT LAKE



REAL SALT LAKE HEAD COACH JASON KREIS

On the officiating:

“Decisions are going against us and whether or not they are the right decisions, there are decisions that are having to be made. I’m hoping that that will shake over the season and that a bounce or two will go our way and that there will be a decision, or maybe two or three or five that will go our way and it will all level out.”



On the Crew’s play:

“I thought they played very well. I think it was the best match they played this season. I watched their first two and by a large way this was their best match of the season.”



On starting Collen Warner over Nelson Gonzalez in midfield:

“Nelson [Gonzalez] has come in and done a job for us for a team that hadn’t gotten results. He came in at the Seattle game and we ended up drawing that game and he starts in the Galaxy game and we lose that game. We have more players that we feel good about than we have positions on the field. It was no knock on Nelson, it was time to give the other kid a chance and I think he did well. I think we have good
options.”

REAL SALT LAKE MIDFIELDER KYLE BECKERMAN

On Real Salt Lake’s confidence in its style of play after winning 2009 MLS Cup:

“We’ve found a style that works for us, and that works in this league, so I think that’s something we want to continue to do; play that style. That’s all we keep doing, is just keep trying to play our style and it really works for us, especially away from home.”

REAL SALT LAKE GOALKEEPER NICK RIMANDO

On RSL’s start to the season:

“I think it’s most important that we have faith in ourselves and then it helps to have a coaching staff that works with us and reminds that we did it all last year and we had a bad record in the beginning. Ours isn’t too bad right now – there’s worse out there – so we’re going home for the next three games and if we get nine points out of that, then good, but if not, we’ve still got a long season.”

COLUMBUS HEAD COACH ROBERT WARZYCHA

On Robbie Rogers:

“I thought Robbie played very well defensively. He was in the right spot and he covered a lot of ground. He was in the right places and I was very happy with his performance.”



On Gino Padula’s injury:

“I don’t have a full medical report, so I don’t know exactly what happened, but I do know it was something in his knee.”



On only having one shot on goal:

“I’ll take it; its three points. I’d rather win a scrappy game and know we’ll get better. Today we had one shot on goal and actually scored and I’m happy about it. “



On Real Salt Lake:

“They’re a good team. They won the championship last year, but the result didn’t fall their way. I’m glad we won today.”

COLUMBUS DEFENDER ANDY IRO

On defending Real
Salt Lake’s attack:

“Salt Lake has everything you could want up top, from size, to speed, to skill; and I think we did a good job on them tonight. Whether it’s me or Chad [Marshall] or Eric
[Brunner], we feel like we’ll win the majority of balls in the air, and the midfield
did a good job of winning second balls and closing their midfielders down.”

COLUMBUS MIDFIELDER ROBBIE ROGERS

On the rainy conditions in tonight’s match:

“I was talking to Steve [Lenhart] before the game and we said ‘Let’s just have fun tonight.’ We were playing in the rain; the weather was perfect, the temperature was perfect and I had a great time. The game was a little chippy, but sometimes those are the best ones.”

COLUMBUS GOALKEEPER WILLIAM HESMER

On withstanding RSL’s late pressure on goal:

“I thought we could have done a little better job of possessing the ball. But at the end of the game you know they’re going to throw everything they have at you and you’re going to have to withstand pressure and fight and battle hard and win some challenges in the box and we did that for the most part.”

Favorite jerseys for 2012

So pretty much all of 2012's jerseys can be seen on the MLS Gear website now.

Here are my favorites.

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1. RSL of course.

Actually, I wouldn't have put RSL's up if I didn't like it but I think this is my favorite all time RSL uniform. Up to this point my favorite RSL uniform had been the 2005 away kit. I've always said that I never really liked any of the home uniforms RSL has ever had. That is until now, I love the different color sleaves.


2. Columbus' away.

I like how they are bringing back the yellow and black stripes on the upper half of the jersey. Really takes you back to 1996.


3. San Jose away.

I like how simple it is. Makes me think of a soccer kit from the 70's.


4. Los Angeles home.

I like that they are bringing back the sash, the white and blue looks classy too. It would look better though with more white and less little blue accents on the underarms etc.

RSL's 2006 results


Saturday, February 18, 2012

Friday, February 17, 2012

(more to come)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Absolutely sickening. Swords?!

Egypt football violence: 'I saw people with knives and swords'

Witnesses give their account of clashes between Al Ahly and Al Masry supporters in Port Said as country mourns 74 dead

(Abdel-Rahman Hussein in Port Said and Martin Chulov guardian.co.uk 2-2-12)

Mohamed Hamouda was celebrating the third goal by his team, Al Masry, when a policeman standing near the playing field caught his eye. "A police officer told supporters to come on to the pitch," Hamouda claimed in the aftermath of Egypt's deadliest night of football violence, which killed 74 people and wounded hundreds more. "The gates on to the pitch were opened on purpose by someone before the game started."

Nursing an arm he said was injured trying to defend besieged fans from the Cairo-based Al Ahly club, Hamouda said nothing was normal about the chaotic end to the football game on Wednesday night that has reignited a combustible post-Mubarak Egypt. "When the match was over supporters rushed on to the pitch and then the lights went off," he said. "People didn't know who was with who. I then saw people throwing the Al Ahly supporters from the stands.

"The gate at the exit was also closed by someone on purpose. I saw people yesterday with knives and swords. I don't know them, they were not from Port Said."

The mad scramble to escape the carnage inside the Port Said stadium has horrified Egyptians, who are demanding answers about how and why the violence happened, who – if anyone – might have played a role in inciting it, and why the police and security forces appeared to do so little to stop it. The question remains whether the deaths and injuries were the result of simple football hooliganism that spiralled out of control, the inaction of the Egyptian police, who appear to have done nothing to stop the violence as it escalated, or whether it was orchestrated by the state, with paid thugs sent into the crowd to stir up trouble.

Many of the country's new legislators are calling for Egypt's military rulers to be held to account for a death toll unprecedented in the past year of turmoil and scenes that have weakened an already unstable and volatile state.

Tension had been building throughout the game, a grudge match between two historical foes. Two hardcore groups of fans, known as ultras, sat among the rival supporters. The ultras, who partly model themselves on Italian, Serbian and even British football gangs, have thrown themselves into the revolution's front lines over the past year, fighting frequent pitched battles with riot police.

Eyewitnesses spoken to by the Guardian said there was more to the violence than pure football hooliganism, the reason put forward by the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces, which has ruled Egypt since Mubarak's removal.

Whatever the cause, the aftermath has become a political crisis. A day of highly charged accusations that security officials had partly engineered the violence in revenge for the ultras' role in revolutionary violence has led on Thursday night to renewed clashes near Tahrir Square, close to the interior ministry headquarters. The same riot police who were accused of standing back on Wednesday night as a group of Al Masry ultras stormed the field, in pursuit first of the Al Ahly players and then their fans – ultras and regular supporters – fired volleys of teargas at protesters.

Al Masry fans spoke of supporters at the game whom none of them knew. "We were surprised by buses coming from out of town carrying supporters wearing the shirts of Al Masry ultras," said Hamouda. Salah Abdel-Naeem el-Masry, a protester who was at the game, was just as shocked. "I swear it wasn't the people of Port Said who did this. I saw a young boy jump off the top of the stand out of fear. He landed on the top of the mosque and broke his leg."

He too claimed that there was more to the violence than initially met the eye. "I don't understand how five gates could be opened at the same time as soon as the referee blows the whistle," he said. "I ran to find the Al Ahly supporters injured, I went down to ask the security forces to do something and one of them told me he wouldn't because he didn't want to get hurt."

Mohamed Saleh, the security supervisor for the Al Masry club, claimed that he too noticed people in the crowd whom he described as "strangers". He said they were not the only strange part of an evening in which little went to a well-established security script.

"There are many reasons behind what happened," he said. "The banner, the gates being opened, the criminals in the crowd and Nile sports channel showing the Al Ahly ultras' buses arriving on the screen inside the stadium.

"The locks on three gates were broken throughout the game, by whom I don't know. I've been here four years and I've never seen some of the people I saw inside. Yes, they were from Port Said, but they were not the people I see regularly. I've never believed in conspiracies until yesterday. I've decided to not work in football again."

Mohamed Shaaban, who travelled from Cairo for the game, was in the main stand and saw frequent pitch invasions throughout the match, none of which were stopped by police. He said he noticed a lack of security well before kick-off. "When going into the stadium I was late, the police outside weren't in big numbers as they usually are for this game," he said. "As Al Ahly players were warming up on the pitch, fans were throwing missiles at them. Insults were exchanged by both sets of supporters but what really inflamed things was the banner unfurled by Ahly fans saying there were no men in Port Said.

"There were a lot of people around the pitch throughout the entire game and I have no idea who they were. Fans stormed the pitch at half-time and stayed around the pitch. When Masry scored more people would leave the stands and head to the pitch to celebrate with the players. Missiles were exchanged between the stands.

"The Ahly dressing room was beneath the stand that held the Ahly supporters. The gate between one of the stands and the pitch was opened as the game ended and fans rushed through. I could see the Ahly supporters rushing to the exits but they didn't seem able to leave."

Islam Saeed, a member of the Al Ahly ultras, said some Al Masry supporters were mocking the dead and injured after the game and stopping ambulances from arriving. He said a sense of foreboding had been building all night.

"Hundreds would storm the pitch after every goal, so we could sense what was going to happen. There was a huge lapse in security. The police non-intervention was very strange – there was practically no security outside the stadium and inside it they didn't do anything when events escalated.

"This was gross security incompetence coupled with the barbarity of some supporters. This has been happening for the past five years but security always intervened. They didn't this time. If you allow this to happen then you are liable for the deaths."

The family of one 16-year-old ultra, Mohamed Ahmed, had travelled from Cairo to find him. His cousin, Alaa, was in tears after a fruitless search through hospital morgues in Port Said, which were holding more than 50 bodies. The hospital was caring for several hundred casualties, many of whom were crushed against locked gates.

Protesters in Port Said marched through the streets of the city on Thursday, disavowing links to the violence. The region's governor has resigned his post, along with the region's security chief.