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.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Monday, March 19, 2012

Cool Philadelphia shot

The bridge in the background never gets old.

Don't Cry for me Salt Lake City

For some reason Wingert suddenly got emotional during RSL's game against New York Saturday night. Don't worry Chris, we are off to a great start. Everything is going to be ok.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Murder charges for 75 in riot

( 3-15-12)

Egypt's top prosecutor on Thursday charged 75 people in connection with a deadly soccer riot last month in the Mediterranean city of Port Said in which authorities said fans were thrown to their death off the stadium walls and others killed by explosives as they tried to flee.

Scores of fans face murder charges and nine police officers were accused of complicity in murder, in the Feb. 1 riot that left at least 74 people dead. It was the world's worst soccer-related disaster in 15 years.

The riot began minutes after the final whistle in a league game between Cairo club al-Ahly and al-Masry of Port Said. The home side won 3-1 but its fans set upon the rival supporters in a killing frenzy that witnesses said lasted 30 minutes. Many witnesses claimed that policemen at the venue did nothing to stop the bloodshed.

The riot shocked soccer-crazy Egypt, deepening the sense of uncertainty felt by many as their nation continues to be roiled by unrest a year after the ouster of longtime authoritarian leader Hosni Mubarak. That senior police officers were charged in connection with the tragedy would lend credence to persistent claims that the nation's much-hated police were deliberately turning a blind eye to the wave of violent crime gripping Egypt over the past year.

Police have yet to fully retake the streets after they melted away on the fourth day of the 18-day popular uprising that toppled Mubarak.

An end to police brutality was among the main root causes of the uprising and many rights activists believe the police's apparent reluctance to restore security is payback for their humiliating defeat in the face of millions of unarmed protesters.

A statement issued by the office of the nation's prosecutor general said nine police officers, including six major generals and a colonel, participated in the Port Said riot by way of "assistance" to al-Masry fans. They said the officers, along with several al-Masry officials, knew in advance that the home fans planned to attack al-Ahly supporters.

According to the statement, they allowed al-Masry fans to exceed by 3,000 the maximum number authorized to attend the game and did not search any of them for weapons before they were allowed inside the grounds. Many of the charged fans were criminals known to the local police, it said.

It said the police at the match's venue did nothing to stop al-Masry fans from attacking their rivals.

"Those from the police among the defendants failed to take any measure ... to maintain security, protect lives and property," it said, in what is probably the strongest official condemnation since Mubarak's ouster of the police's attitude toward the rise of crime in Egypt.

The nine police officers included Maj. Gen. Issam Samak, who was Port Said's chief of security at the time of the riot. Samak has already been suspended.

The statement said the charges were based on video footage of the riot and the confessions of suspects. It said the killing of the protesters was planned in advance and that the culprits prepared for the massacre with knifes, rocks and explosives. Fans from the two teams have a history of animosity, but no one had expected that the heated rivalry could turn murderous.

It described how al-Masry fans threw al-Ahly supporters to their death from the terraces and how they detonated explosives in their midst as they became trapped in a corridor leading to an exit gate.

Among those charged is the chief electrical engineer of the Port Said stadium, a fact that alludes to numerous witness accounts that power inexplicably went out at the venue minutes after the final whistle. The darkness, according to witnesses, helped the assailants to attack with impunity.

On Thursday, thousands of al-Ahly fans staged a sit-in outside the office of the nation's top prosecutor, Mahmoud Abdel-Maguid, to protest what they said was the delay in filing the charges and to demand swift justice.

Many of the fans, known as Ultras Ahlawy, wore the red jersey of the club, possibly the most popular in Egypt.

The Port Said riot led to the cancellation of the soccer league and sparked days of clashes in Cairo between police and protesters accusing the Interior Ministry, which is in charge of police, of doing nothing to protect al-Ahly fans.

The Egyptian soccer federation has yet to punish al-Masry for the riot. It is widely expected to relegate the team to a lower league and ban any official games from being played on its grounds.

LA Galaxy take undisputed 2012 Super Cup

L.A. Galaxy win MLS Cup

( 11-20-11)

The L.A. Galaxy captured their third MLS championship on Sunday night with an exquisite winning goal that couldn’t have been more appropriate for a club named for a collection of stars.

After more than an hour of frustration and several egregious misses by some of L.A.’s lesser lights, multimillionaire Designated Players David Beckham, Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan showed a sellout crowd of 30,281 at The Home Depot Center and the resilient Houston Dynamo how titles are won. The Galaxy’s 1-0 triumph in MLS Cup 2011 was sealed in the 72nd minute, when Beckham rose to meet the ball and, with a skilled flick of his head, found Keane on the left.

The Irishman tore toward goal and practically screwed Dynamo defender Bobby Boswell into the turf with a cut to the right. Donovan exploited the space, ran toward the left post and met Keane’s soft through pass.

Like he did last summer in the waning seconds against Algeria, Donovan delivered. A deft shot from with his right foot evaded Houston goalkeeper Tally Hall and settled just inside the right post, giving L.A. a lead it wouldn’t possibly relinquish at home with so much stake.

If Beckham leaves MLS—his five-year deal expires at year end—he’ll do so as a league champion for the eighth time in his career. His seventh title came in his final season at Real Madrid in 2007. He played on a hurt hamstring on Sunday, and was saluted with a “We want Beckham!” chant from the fans following the match.

Donovan won his fourth MLS Cup on Sunday night, but surely this one will mean the most. He earned three in his first five years, a period in which he admits that he was less developed as both a player and a person. He’s now 29 years old, a World Cup hero and the captain of American soccer’s most accomplished and recognized club.

Keane, a scoring legend for both his country and in the English Premier League, claimed the first league championship of a storied career.

The trio earns more than $12.2 million per season combined, more than twice the entire salary budget of 15 of the league’s 17 other teams. For a club that was at the bottom of the league just three years ago, the money surely was well spent. The Galaxy led practically wire to wire, finishing the regular season 19-5-10 then going 4-0-0 in the playoffs. L.A. also won its CONCACAF Champions League group, adding to the argument that this team, anchored by its great triumvirate but boasting stars on the rise like Omar Gonzalez and Juninho, is the best in MLS history.

No club featuring a Designated Player, whose salaries count only a small portion against a team’s budget, had won an MLS title before Sunday.

To the Dynamo’s credit, L.A. had to work for its championship. This was the most decorated MLS Cup final match-up in MLS’s 16-year history, just the third featuring former titlists and the first pitting teams with multiple MLS Cups on their respective resumes. Houston (15-10-13) competed like a champion, but without injured MVP runner-up Brad Davis, simply lacked the firepower to threaten the hosts.

The Galaxy easily could have won by several goals, but the vast majority of the early chances fell to forward Adam Cristman, who was thrust into the starting lineup because of the ankle injury suffered by Chad Barrett. Cristman pressured the Dynamo back line and was able to get open, but he wasn’t up to the occasion and scuffed at least three golden opportunities. Midfielder Mike Magee, who’d been clutch throughout the playoffs, left his accuracy in the locker room as well.

L.A. coach Bruce Arena removed Cristman in the 58th, inserted Chris Birchall and pushed Donovan up top alongside Keane. A minute before, Keane had an apparent goal called back for offside, which surely frustrated the Galaxy but signaled that Houston was about to break. Donovan’s desperation to win this title ensured the next opportunity wouldn’t be wasted. Keane and Donovan nearly combined on a promising counterattack in the 61st, then 11 minutes later, produced a goal that will live in MLS legend.

Donovan accepted the game MVP award on the field after the whistle, shortly after racing toward the crowd and pumping his fists. It was the conclusion of another triumphant chapter in a career that has made him America’s most celebrated soccer player, and a fitting end to a game and a season that proved that Designated Players can thrive and deliver in MLS.


LA Galaxy Win 2011 Supporters' Shield

LA Galaxy clinch best record in MLS following Philadelphia’s 2-0 win over Seattle

( 10-8-11)

The LA Galaxy have captured the 2011 Supporters’ Shield as a result of the Philadelphia Union’s 2-0 win over Seattle Sounders FC tonight at CenturyLink Field. With the result, the Galaxy have an 18-4-10 record for 64 points, giving LA an insurmountable seven-point advantage at the top of the MLS standings.

This is the fourth time in club history and the second straight season in which the Galaxy have won the Supporters’ Shield, which is given annually to the team that finished with the best regular season record in MLS. The Galaxy’s four Supporters’ Shield wins are now tied with D.C. United as the most in MLS history, one more than the Columbus Crew.

By winning the Supporters’ Shield, the Galaxy have clinched home-field advantage throughout the 2011 MLS Cup Playoffs while also earning a berth in Group Play of the 2012/13 CONCACAF Champions League.

The Galaxy, who first won the Supporters’ Shield with an MLS record 68 points in 1998 and then again in 2002 when they won their first MLS Cup, are now the third team in MLS history to repeat at Supporters’ Shield winners, having also won the trophy last year, when they finished the season with an 18-7-5 record for a league-best 59 points. They join D.C. United (2006 and 2007) and the Columbus Crew (2008 and 2009) as the only repeat winners of the Supporters’ Shield.

In the first 15 years of MLS, five teams have won the MLS Cup in the same year as they won the Supporters’ Shield with the Columbus Crew the last to accomplish the feat, doing so in 2008 when they had an MLS-best 57 points and then beat the New York Red Bulls 3-1 in MLS Cup, which was played that year at The Home Depot Center.

Toronto fans - Champions League game

Toronto vs LA, Champions League, Skydome.

RSL's 2011 results

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Angry DC United fans

RSL's 2010 results

Royal Army looks to unite RSL fans

(by Landon Walters 3-3-12)

For many diehard soccer fans, the idea of joining a specific supporters group is just something that you do as a fan. For more casual fans however, the idea of joining a specific group just to cheer on your favorite team might sound excessive. For Real Salt Lake’s newest supporters group, the Royal Army, both types of fans are welcome.

Real Salt Lake has had several supporters groups since the inaugural season in 2005. Anyone who has been to one of the team’s matches can recognize the supporters groups that stand — literally — in the south end. These groups are known for singing, chanting and playing drums and other instruments throughout the match. But the Royal Army concept was actually established last year after a road trip to a different stadium.

“Last year a few of us took a trip up to Portland for the RSL game. The crowd was amazing. I thought to myself, our fans can be just as loud, our fans are amazing and our fans are just as dedicated if not more. The only thing we are missing is organization,” said Donny “Irish” Salazar, one of the original founders of the group.

”When I got back to Salt Lake City, I spoke to Trev (president of Salt City United, another supporters group) about trying to grow the supporter section. We started brainstorming and came up with the Royal Army,” Salazar said. “Trev really got the ball rolling by designing a logo, shirts, scarves and family-friendly chant sheets to pass around to the fans.”

The Royal Army leadership understands that some fans will have their own specific preferences on supporters groups and don’t want to take anything away from those groups either.

“Other supporters groups are definitely part of the Royal Army. The Royal Army is a way to unite everyone in the whole stadium. We’ll still have all of our wonderful separate supporters groups (Salt City United, Rogue Cavaliers Brigade, Section 26, LaBarra Real, and more!) but this is a way for everyone to get that supporters group feel without being in one of those smaller groups,” said Amanda Verrier, a captain in the Army leadership.

In addition to the fans that the Army has already gained, they appear to have the support of the RSL front office, as do all of the supporters groups.

“The front office is extremely supportive with what we are trying to accomplish. They really want it to be organic. The more the front office is involved, the more ‘forced’ it would be,” said Salazar. “They are giving us a lot of freedom. The front office has been great so far.”

From the initial work of two fans, the Royal Army grew over the course of last season. Currently, the Army counts 300 fans as members of the group. The group has goals for the future, especially as the next MLS season approaches. In the short term, the group hopes to triple membership every year but also to make sure that all fans have an enjoyable time at the games.

“Obviously we’re not a big market team like L.A. or New York, but our fans have heart and we want to help get everyone on the same page so that we can get everyone cheering together, chanting together and having fun together,” Verrier said.

“We’d love to just have everyone have a great time at the matches they attend. If it’s only one game or if they’re a season ticket holder, we want everyone to have an experience they won’t forget. We want to help grow the fan base of our team and of the league.”

“The basic idea is to create an inviting environment for all walks of life, no matter who you are. If you support Real Salt Lake, we simply ask you to unite with us and support the best team in the MLS,” Salazar said.

With the season scheduled to kick off in only a week, the optimism of RSL fans is high, especially on the heels of the fan-produced video “Believe.” This new anthem has gained more than 46,000 views online in just two weeks.

“Could you imagine if everybody at the RioT was on their feet chanting in unison? It gives me the chills thinking about it,” Salazar said. “If I didn't say I expect nothing less than the MLS Cup, I'd be lying. Either way, we're here for RSL!"

Any RSL fans who are interested in becoming a part of the Royal Army should look for the group on Facebook or Twitter for additional information. Or they can visit before every home match in the tailgate lot just north of Rio Tinto Stadium.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Lagerwey: MLS Cup and CCL knockout stages or bust

RSL GM sets clear goals for Claret-and-Cobalt in 2012

(by Randy Davis 3-8-12)

Real Salt Lake’s formula for success in 2012 is simple: Win MLS Cup and advance to the knockout stage of the CONCACAF Champions League.

“If we achieve those, we succeed,” RSL GM Garth Lagerwey told local media of his squad’s targets this season. “If we don’t, we fail. It’s very black and white this year ... period. End of story.”

Notably absent from that list is the Supporters’ Shield, a stated goal for the Claret-and-Cobalt in the past. In their last two seasons, RSL have fallen just short the past two seasons, losing out to the LA Galaxy, who just happen to be RSL's season-opening opponents on Saturday.

“I don’t care about Supporters' Shield,” Lagerwey said. “It is the regular-season championship. Who cares? The Supporters' Shield is meaningless now. You are playing two thirds of your games against the Western Conference and one third against the Eastern. It’s an unbalanced schedule. It is reflective, in my opinion, of nothing.”

In addition to MLS Cup and the CCL, Lagerwey is also open to the US Open Cup as a potential area for success, but isn’t planning on expending the team’s full resources on it.

“If you can compete in the Open Cup and you can go deep there, that will be as good of a reflection as any because it will probably be a younger team playing in those games,” the RSL GM explained. “It’s a good sign for the future if we’re able to do well in that tournament. So I hope to have a good run in the Open Cup for different reasons than the other stuff.”

Since their MLS Cup 2009 triumph over the Galaxy, RSL have become one of the most dominant teams in MLS. Featuring a core group of players that had weathered the subpar pre-Cup performances, the club set a string of records in 2010, including fewest goals conceded in an MLS season. In 2011, RSL made it to the Champions League final and finished the regular season with the league’s third-best record, bouncing the vaunted Seattle Sounders in the first round of the MLS Cup Playoffs.

In neither season, however, did the club’s success translate to trophies.

“Everybody’s been around at least three years in this core group,” Lagerwey said. “We kept this group together for one reason – to win, and to win titles. We will be judged and we will be successful if we win titles.

“Moral victories don’t work anymore,” Lagerwey continued. “We made it to the finals of CONCACAF Champions League [last Spring]. We lost. We agonized over it for six months. It’s gone. It’s in the past.”

Defend the North

A cool advertisement for opening day tickets on the Montreal Impact website. MLS in French, pretty cool.

Dallas Burn 1996

Hugo Sanchez

RSL's 2009 results