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, November 19, 2014

The last Donovan - RSL match

RSL eliminated from MLS Cup playoffs after 5-0 loss to the L.A. Galaxy

(by Joseph D'Hippolito 11-9-14)

During the second leg of the Western Conference semifinal between Real Salt Lake and Los Angeles on Sunday night, a group of fans unveiled a large banner featuring a silhouette of the L.A. skyline underneath five stars with this caption:

"The stars shine bright In L.A."

That glow incinerated Real Salt Lake's hope to advance in the playoffs.

Landon Donovan amassed three goals and an assist, while Robbie Keane added another goal and three more assists to lead the Los Angeles Galaxy to a 5-0 rout in front of a sellout crowd of 27,000 at the StubHub Center.

The victory puts Los Angeles in the conference final against either the Seattle Sounders or FC Dallas in another two-game series for a berth in MLS Cup.

"It's going to take a special team to beat them. I don't see anybody beating them," said RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando, who finished with three saves despite allowing more goals than any of RSL's opponents had scored this year.

"They were on their game in every aspect: movement, bite, quality," RSL coach Jeff Cassar said about the Galaxy. "It was all there tonight for them. They played fantastic."

Nevertheless, RSL began the game by keeping the hosts pinned in their end for most of the first 10 minutes and defusing the Galaxy's energetic counterattack. Then Donovan struck.

After a series of passes in the 10th minute from Stefan Ishizaki on the right flank to Marcelo Sarvas to A.J. De La Garza in the penalty area, Donovan cut in front of defender Tony Beltran while running into the left side of the penalty area, and headed De La Garza's pass inside the near post from 4 yards.

"Landon battered me," Beltran said. "He was on another level. He's an incredible player and he had so much desire."

Then in the 20th minute, Donovan helped extend the Galaxy's lead to 2-0. After receiving Juninho's pass, Donovan crossed the ball from the left side of the penalty area to Keane, who slid to convert a 4-yard shot inside the right-wing post.

Donovan's assist was the 13th of his postseason career, putting him one away from Mauricio Cienfuegos' MLS record of 14 all-time playoff assists.

"He's got some fire in his belly, for sure," Rimando said of Donovan. "Tonight, you could see that he wants it bad."

Donovan, the all-time leading scorer for both MLS and the United States national team, announced in August that this season would be his last.

"He was showing up in so many different places on the field," Cassar said. "They have so much quality in the open field that when they turn and come at you, it's a problem."

Following Keane's goal, RSL collapsed.

"We lost our shape, our discipline," Cassar said. "We were getting stretched out. We were giving the ball up too often, too early, and we could never regain control of the ball to try to establish any tempo."

Donovan displayed his scoring skill again in the 55th minute. Keane sent a long pass between Beltran and Nat Borchers to Donovan at the left flank. Donovan drew Rimando away from the net, rounded him, and deposited a 17-yard diagonal shot from an extreme angle inside the far post.

RSL did not register a shot on goal until the 58th minute, when Galaxy goalkeeper Jaime Penedo lunged to his right to deflect Kyle Beckerman's 11-yard header with both hands. That shot would be RSL's last.

Sarvas extended the lead to 4-0 in the 63rd minute with a 13-yard shot through Rimando's legs. Donovan finished the scoring by volleying Keane's low chip from 9 yards in the 72nd minute.

Donovan now has 25 playoff goals in his MLS career. No other player has more than 16.

"If you're not good with the ball against L.A., they're going to make you pay," Cassar said. "We paid tonight. We paid a lot."

One player viewed that payment as a long-term installment plan.

"Certainly, it's tough to swallow," Beltran said. "It's going to be a long offseason, thinking about this game. It's going to be a very long offseason."

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