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, November 6, 2015

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

artwork by Austin Escobar III

(from RSL's Facebook page)

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Kreis out as coach of NYCFC after team's 1st season in MLS

( 11-2-15)

Jason Kreis' tenure as coach of Major League Soccer's New York City FC has ended after the team's first season.

The team, owned by the parent company of Manchester City in the Premier League, said Monday it had "parted company" with Kreis after finishing near the bottom of the standings with 37 points.

Kreis coached Real Salt Lake to the 2009 MLS Cup title and left after losing the 2013 championship game to join NYCFC, which started play this year.

NYCFC said in a statement that it had envisioned a playoff spot in its first season, "Prior to the start of the season, it was agreed with the coaching team that securing of a playoff place was appropriate target for this year, but a win rate of less than one in three games and a points tally which was the second-lowest in the league is clearly not in line with the targets that were agreed."

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Avaya Stadium

Way to go San Jose, beautiful stadium.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Sunday, October 25, 2015

2015 comes to an end

2015 was a rather gloomy year for RSL.

Failure to reach the playoffs for the first time in 8 years is rough, getting knocked out of the US Open Cup early on (although this happens to RSL almost every year) is rough too.

However there is something to keep RSL fans warm this winter, advancement to the knock-out stages of the CONCACAF Champions League.

A little bit of a rainbow to end this stormy year.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

RSL advances to CCL quarterfinals with 1-0 win over Municipal

(by Kyle Spencer 10-20-15)

Jamison Olave's 43rd minute header was enough to seal Real Salt Lake's passage into the CONCACAF Champions League knockout stage for the first time since 2011.

RSL's 1-0 win over Guatemalan side Municipal Tuesday night moved its record in home Champions League fixtures to 8-1-1 all time.  Javier Morales' inswinger off a corner in the 43rd minute gave RSL the lead, as Olave leaped the highest and buried his header inside the far post.

"I couldn't be more happy for (Olave), for out team and for our club, for our fans," RSL coach Jeff Cassar said. "That space was open all night - that front area to the top of the six. I really liked where Jamison started, he started a little bit deeper and was coming in rather than being already there, which we were on a few but beautiful service from Javi and a fantastic finish from Jamison."

RSL threatened all first half, holding a 60 to 40 edge in possession and outshooting Municipal seven to four, with two on goal to the visitors' zero.

But it took a precisely placed cross from Morales, who dictated how the home side played in the attacking third all night.

"Before that play, we had a corner kick and the No. 7, a small guy, he was marking me," Olave said. "I told Javier, ‘just put the ball here because he's too small for me. So the next play he put the ball there and that's how I scored."

Municipal was content to sit deep with the intent to try and catch RSL off-guard on a counterattack until the breakthrough, and then pressed much higher in the second half.  The Guatemalan club's attack finally amounted to a legitimate goal-scoring opportunity in the 76th minute, when it won a free kick around 30 yards out from RSL's goal.  Municipal's captain, Carlos Ruiz, shot off the set piece that appeared destined for the upper left corner of RSL's net, but Nick Rimando flew to his right to tip the ball over the bar.

"When you think of Nicky, you think of massive saves that keep us in games," Cassar said. "That was a huge save. Great technique, great free kick from Carlos Ruiz. (Rimando) had seen that one before so maybe he had an idea of it, but that was a critical time that we needed that play."

Chants of "Nick Rimando" echoed around Rio Tinto Stadium following the momentous denial from the announced 18,132 in attendance. The serenade was then replicated from those who remained in their seats after the final whistle blew.  Captain Kyle Beckerman made a lap around the stadium after the 90 minutes had concluded, high-fiving everyone left on the first row.

"(The fans) have been really great to us since the start, even before I got here," he said. "We knew it was a tough year for everyone, so it was just a thank you for them."

RSL's Champions League quarterfinal date and opponent are yet to be announced, with the final group-stage matches taking place Wednesday, but after finishing with 10 points it's tied for the most with D.C. United.  Last time RSL advanced past the group stage, it became the first-ever MLS team to make it to the final before dropping the second leg, 1-0, to fall 3-2 on aggregate to Monterrey.


Friday, October 16, 2015

Opinion: Jeff Cassar's leadership not good enough for RSL

(by Andy Larsen 10-16-15)

After seven straight years of making the playoffs, Real Salt Lake won't be participating in MLS's postseason this year. Adding insult to injury, RSL's likely failure (current models give them a 0.4 percent chance of squeaking out a playoff spot) comes in a year when MLS expanded the playoff structure, allowing 12 of the 20 teams to make the cutoff.

But RSL will be left out due to its own inadequacy, especially the curious decisions and leadership of head coach Jeff Cassar. Repeatedly, Cassar didn't chase after opportunities to get his team the points they needed. Instead, Cassar was overly satisfied with inept performances in critical situations.  That explicit approval of on-field failure meant that RSL had no drive to improve throughout the season. The team made the same critical mistakes in Wednesday night's critical match against Portland, the loss of which doomed RSL's season for good.

Overall, RSL has dropped 27 points at home, far too many for a team that considers itself a playoff contender. Here's a rundown of some critical home draws and losses, and Jeff Cassar's quote after each.

May 6, 0-0 home draw vs. Los Angeles Galaxy  Cassar: "To sum it up, it's improvement from last week. I thought that our possession was good tonight. I felt that we made good choices on the ball under difficult circumstances. Overall, really pleased with tonight. Obviously, the aim is to get three points at home, and I thought we pushed, but came up just a little bit short on the points, but not on the performance."

June 7, 0-0 home draw against Rapids — Nick Rimando saved a Colorado penalty in the 89th minute to preserve RSL's draw.  Cassar: "Without a doubt, it's a missed opportunity. That being said, I thought we had a good performance. I thought our offense clicked very well. We limited them to not too many opportunities.  We limited them, and created a lot of chances. If we get that one, I think things will open up, and we'll get more."

June 27, 2-2 home draw against Columbus — Jordan Allen's red card in the 77th minute prevented RSL from going for the win.  Cassar: "The guys showed a ton of character and fight today, and I was extremely proud of them. I thought we created enough chances to win this game and put it out of reach when it was 2-1, but we paid the price."

July 4, 1-1 home draw against Orlando — Orlando's Kaka picked up a red card in the first half, but RSL was unable to score in the second period.  Cassar: "We have to get three points at home. We didn't. But our attitude was right. The way we approached the game was right. I can't fault the guys' effort. We tried and we pushed. … Overall, I'm pleased with our guys' effort."

Aug. 15, 1-0 home loss to Portland — Former RSL man Nat Borchers scored a header in the 95th minute to win the game for Portland.  Cassar: "There was some beautiful soccer out there. I was really proud of watching our team play with that attacking style, that relentless style."

Oct. 14, 1-0 home loss to Portland — Jamison Olave's red card and penalty donated gave the Timbers the 1-0 win.  Cassar: "I'm not frustrated with the way we played. It was two teams that was battling extremely hard. Their goal came off of a long clearance. But I thought we moved the ball extremely well, we were missing the final ball again, but I'm not upset with the way our players played. Absolutely not." Cassar repeatedly commended his players' poor performances, and as a result, nothing changed.

RSL's head coach also stood by his new 4-3-3 formation throughout the season despite disappointing results, and occasionally, misfit personnel. RSL chose to switch to the 4-3-3 because the previous reliance on the 4-4-2 diamond caused problems in many matchups. But the similar tactical inflexibility RSL showed with the 4-3-3 created new problems that were far worse than the ones RSL faced a year ago.

That's not to say the problems are entirely Cassar's fault, of course they aren't. In many ways, RSL's roster wasn't good enough this season, and general manager Craig Waibel's squad showed its lack of depth in attack, midfield and defense. But RSL's performances when the squad was at or near full strength, including Wednesday's nail in the coffin, show that RSL's disappointment can't be blamed on injuries and callups alone.  This is nearly a carbon copy of the situation the Utah Jazz found themselves in two seasons ago.  Then, head coach Ty Corbin took over for franchise legend Jerry Sloan and lost in the first round of the playoffs in his first season. From then on, Corbin, too, made puzzling tactical and lineup choices, and seemed out of touch in public comments.  Cassar, just like Corbin, is a good man and a good assistant coach. But the role of head coach is too much for him, and it shows on nearly every level.  It's time for RSL to find a new, fresh, smart voice, one who keeps his players accountable through a rigid implementation of culture and process. RSL needs a leader who will only be satisfied when potential is met, not when the club falls drastically short.


Thursday, October 1, 2015

If every religion had a soccer team, this is what the jerseys would look like

(by Herb Scribner national/ 9-30-15)

Imagine a world where the globe's top soccer players were placed on teams based on their religious affiliations.

That world may not be too far away, as two men in Spain have designed football kits (soccer jerseys) and crests (team logos) for soccer teams based on different religions. The kits and their team crests were published on Behance.

“Football is our religion,” the Behance page reads. “Shouldn’t our religion be football, too?”
There are team kits for Catholics, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists and even Orthodox believers, among others.

As the creators explained, each proposed team would be filled with professional soccer players who follow a specific faith. For example, stars Wayne Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo and Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez, who are Catholic, would compete for Catholic FC.

If that sounds like a star-studded team, you'd be correct. In fact, designers Miguel Sousa and Francisco Pancho Cassis told Deseret News National Catholic FC would likely make the religious World Cup Final, and would probably play AC Islam — which would include soccer stars such as Mesut Ozil, Yaya Toure and Marouane Fellaini.

"Just based on the players, maybe the Final would be played between Catholics and Muslims," Cassis and Sousa wrote in an email. "Most of the best players in the world believe in those two religions. So they would have very strong teams."

So far, this project has garnered more than 7,000 views to the designers' Behance page.
In fact, there's been such a positive reaction that fans have sent Sousa and Cassis design ideas and petitions for other religious soccer teams.

They said they plan on using the ideas for more designs.

"Honestly, we thought this crazy idea would create some controversy, but for now it has just created good vibes," they wrote in an email. "It’s a dream project."

Catholic Football Club

Athletic Club Islam


Football Club Orthodox

Protestants United Football Club

Jewish Association Football Club

Athletic Club Buddism

Hinduism Athletic Club


Wednesday, September 30, 2015

KC dreaming

This almost looks like a screenshot from FIFA 15 or some other soccer video game. But it's not, it is the real thing.

Back in the early days of MLS this would have only been a dream. MLS has come a long way.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Superstar subs lift Real Salt Lake to victory over Santa Tecla

(by James Edwards 9-24-15)

The rapidly evolving folklore of El Burrito reached a new level Thursday night at Rio Tinto Stadium.

With Real Salt Lake in a stunning hole against the underdogs from El Salvador, Juan Manuel Martinez — aka El Burrito — entered the match in the 72nd minute with his team down a goal. Five minutes later RSL had scored twice, a lead it didn’t relinquish in a critical 2-1 CONCACAF Champions League victory over Santa Tecla.

RSL coach Jeff Cassar said he had full confidence in the mix of regulars and reserves he started to get the necessary result, but those plans changed when the visitors scored the all-important first goal around the hour mark.

Within 10 minutes Martinez, Javier Morales and Kyle Beckerman had entered the match and they immediately changed the dynamic.

“We just brought some energy. I think as a sub that’s what you’ve got to do is bring energy, and bring a change to the game in a good way and that’s what we tried to do,” said Beckerman, who admitted he didn’t even expect to play with such a big league match upcoming at San Jose this Sunday.

Thursday’s match was just as big for different reasons, and when it became clear Santa Tecla was no pushover, desperate measures became necessary.

“They came in with the right mentality, the same aggressive mentality that the guys had on before, (but) a little bit extra quality and some great passing and movement,” said RSL coach Jeff Cassar.
RSL moves to the top of its CCL group with one match remaining, but it isn’t through to the quarterfinals yet. It hosts Municipal (Guatemala) at Rio Tinto Stadium on Oct. 20 in the final group game, with the winner advancing. RSL would also advance with a draw.

The entire complexion of a match Real Salt Lake dominated changed in the 61st minute.

Santa Tecla midfielder William Maldonado pumped a long ball in behind Real Salt Lake’s backline, with teammate Irvin Herrera tracking down first. He took a touch into the box, and despite being flanked by two RSL defenders slotted a simple shot between the legs of Jeff Attinella for the stunning 1-0 lead.

Throughout the match, Santa Tecla sat back more than Cassar was expecting, and he knew they’d sit back even more with a 1-0 lead.

Within three minutes Morales and Beckerman were standing on the sideline ready to check in. RSL needed its big guns on the field.

In the 65th minute, Morales and Beckerman came on for Pecka and Luke Mulholland, and then in the 72nd minute Martinez subbed on for Sebastian Jamie.

It took the trio all of five minutes to flip the score after Martinez entered. Garcia headed in a Morales free kick in the 74th minute to level the game 1-1, and then three minutes later Morales slipped a ball into the box for Martinez who chipped the keeper for the 2-1 lead.

The team celebrated more out of a sense of relief than anything else.

It came out a cost, though. Morales picked up a bit of a hip flexor injury and his status for the weekend isn’t known.

Ideally Morales never would’ve played, but the finishing quality was lacking from the starters even though Cassar thought they played well enough.

“I had full confidence in the group that started to get the result, and really at the end of the day I was really pleased with the way they played,” he said.

Real Salt Lake had three great chances in the first half, with Santa Tecla keeper Juan Trinidad coming up big to deny two of them.

In the 25th minute Luis Gil had a quality look from the top of the box, but his screamer drifted just wide of the right post. In the 40th minute, Garcia headed a Mulholland corner kick right at the keeper.
Then in the 41st minute, Trinidad came up with the save of the match with an acrobatic save to deny an unmarked Joao Plata from 15 yards out. The rebound popped straight up, and Jaime outjumped everyone but headed it off the crossbar.


Thursday, September 24, 2015

Real Salt Lake sloppy but effective in grind-out draw in El Salvador

(by James Edwards 9-15-15)

It wasn’t pretty, but Real Salt Lake got the result it needed Tuesday night in El Salvador.

Fielding a mostly reserve lineup in a CONCACAF Champions League group game against Santa Tecla, the visitors escaped with a 0-0 draw to move to the top of the group and into the driver’s seat while advancing to the quarterfinals.

RSL played the final 11 minutes down a man after John Stertzer picked up a red card in the 79th minute, but Santa Tecla couldn’t capitalize on the advantage.

A big reason why was RSL’s substitutes. In a relatively sloppy match most of the night, RSL coach Jeff Cassar helped settle his team down by inserting Javier Morales and Joao Plata into the match in the 71st minute, and then Kyle Beckerman in the 81st minute after Stertzer’s red card.

The veterans helped RSL see out the road draw, which is always a good result in CONCACAF.

Had Luke Mulholland not squandered a great chance in the 40th minute, Real Salt Lake could’ve easily escaped with the full three points.

Instead, it sits on four points through two group games, tied with Municipal (Guatemala) which also has four points. Municipal, however, has played three of four matches, while Real Salt Lake still has two home matches remaining.

It hosts Santa Tecla on Sept. 24 and then Municipal on Oct. 20. With a win over Santa Tecla, Real Salt Lake would need only a draw against Municipal to advance.

With better finishing on Tuesday in El Salvador, RSL could’ve avoided any potential drama in that last group match, but not anymore.

RSL had more than enough experience on the field to get a positive result, particularly with regulars like Mulholland and Tony Beltran starting after missing Saturday’s match at Houston with yellow card accumulation.

Nobody else on the field could be considered first choice, but between Jeff Attinella, Devon Sandoval, Aaron Maund, Abdoulie Mansally and Luis Gil, they’ve played in a lot of big matches this season already.

The group could never settle into much of a rhythm on the turf at Estadio Las Delicias, but the draw was good enough considering the circumstances.


Monday, September 14, 2015

New England's Lee Nguyen

Almost looks like a mythical Chinese phoenix has landed on his head.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Angels fan is no fan

Check out the Angels fan in the front row who is too busy with his phone to celebrate another Morales goal.

C'mon man.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Chivas USA logo

2005 - 2014

RSL's expansion brother

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Saturday, August 22, 2015

As plain as white bread

San Jose wins the award for the most boring and plain MLS uniforms ever.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Beckerman skates, Saborio plays soccer

I'm not sure what Beckerman is doing, a little pretend skateboarding it looks like while former RSL'er Saborio plays a nice ball over to his teammate.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Joao Plata's early goal secures Champions League win for Real Salt Lake

(by James Edwards 8-4-15)

Playing in Central America is never easy for MLS teams, but that didn’t seem to bother Real Salt Lake on Tuesday night as it opened CONCACAF Champions League group play with a dream start.

Joao Plata scored just three minutes into the match, and then Nick Rimando made a critical save late in the game as RSL held on for the 1-0 victory over Municipal in its first of four CCL Group G games.

Three nights earlier in a league match at D.C. United, Plata scored an early goal as well, but 90 minutes later RSL walked off the field a 6-4 loser. On Tuesday in Guatemala, all 11 players defended with much more purpose to make amends for the defensive debacle in D.C.

RSL’s next Champions League match isn’t until Sept. 15 when it travels to El Salvador to face Santa Tecla. Its final two group games will be at Rio Tinto Stadium, and after winning the opener on the road, RSL jumped right into the Group G driver’s seat.

It’s been three years since Real Salt Lake last participated in Champions League play, and in that 2012 opener it lost at Herediano in Costa Rica 2-0. It could never dig itself out of the hole and finished second in the group.

Plata helped get RSL off to the perfect start.

After Municipal’s keeper punched away a Javier Morales cross, the rebound only went as far as Plata. He took a slight touch and then uncorked a bouncing shot between a Municipal player’s legs and into the back of the net for the very early 1-0 lead.

Municipal nearly equalized in the 41st minute, but former L.A. Galaxy striker Carlos Ruiz caromed a bending free kick off the cross bar.

In the 66th minute, Plata was unlucky not to bury a second goal when a defender jumped to clear his shot off the line.

Rimando was called up throughout the night to make clutch plays, but none was bigger than his 78th minute save on an unmarked Ruiz after a Municipal cross rolled through the box right to Ruiz. Anticipating the shot, Rimando dove to his right and smothered what could’ve easily been the equalizer for the home side.

For Real Salt Lake, it has another quick turnaround this Saturday as it travels to Vancouver for a league match.


Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Real Salt Lake dives back into CCL play after 3-year hiatus

(by James Edwards 8-3-15)

Just three days removed from its bizarre loss at D.C. United, Real Salt Lake will try to shift focuses to CONCACAF Champions League play on Tuesday night in Guatemala.

In its first of four CCL group games over the next two months, RSL faces Guatemalan club Municipal (8 p.m., Fox Soccer) at Estadio Mateo Flores.

This is Real Salt Lake’s third participation in the Champions League. In the 2010-11 tourney, RSL lost in the final to Monterrey. Two years later in the 2012-13 version, it failed to advance out of group play.

RSL’s all-time record in CCL play is 8-4-4.

After a three-year hiatus, Real Salt Lake is back in group play, and its first game comes during a very congested part of its schedule. RSL, Municipal and Santa Tecla (El Salvador) will all play each other twice, with the group winner advancing to next year’s knockout stages.

“It’s a really exciting part of the season, we have everything to play for in front of us. Lot of important games and a lot of games that have been riding on it, it’s a good time to be a player on this team,” said Kyle Beckerman prior to RSL’s departure last week.

RSL coach Jeff Cassar said lineup rotation would be necessary for the club to be competitive throughout its five-game, 15-day stretch, which still includes games in Guatemala, Vancouver, Kansas City and then home at Rio Tinto Stadium.

Guatemala native Elias Vasquez is among the players who will likely start on Tuesday after being an unused sub in the 6-4 loss to D.C. United. Nick Rimando could also feature in the match after being held out against D.C. United with a knee contusion.

Guatemala’s Liga Nacional just kicked off its 2015 Apetura season on Sunday, with Municipal falling to Mictlan 1-0.


Friday, July 24, 2015

A sports league that's unprofitable—but hopeful

Major League Soccer is, by some measures, very successful. The problem is that it doesn't make money.
(by Zac Bissonnette 12-5-14)

With the MLS championship game set for Sunday, indicators for the future of the league are mixed. On the one hand: rising attendance, an influx of interest driven by this summer's World Cup, and the largest TV contract in American soccer's history. On the other: dismal TV ratings, and league-wide losses of more than $100 million per year. 

One thing that is certain is that the quality of play has improved: The 2010 World Cup featured six MLS players. The 2014 edition featured 31. Luring athletes of that caliber into the less internationally prestigious American game has come at a high cost, and no other professional sports league exhibits the income inequality of MLS. Seven of the league's 572 players earn about a third of the league's total annual payroll of $130 million, according to a New York Times analysis. For the non-millionaires, player salaries start as low as $36,500.

Historically, marquee contracts for international soccer stars have failed to lead to widespread interest in the United States. When Pele signed a $4.7 million contract to play for the North American Soccer League's New York Cosmos in 1975, he declared that "You can say now to the world that soccer has finally arrived in the United States." It had not; the league was out of business 10 years later. For now though, improved quality of play and average in-stadium attendance figures that rank below only the National Football League and Major League Baseball among American sports have TV networks feeling optimistic. A new, 8-year contract to air MLS games on ESPN, Fox Sports, and Univision will bring the league revenue of $90 million per year, up from $18 million per year under the contract that expires this year.

That deal was surprising to many in light of the league's struggles with drawing television ratings. In spite of slight year-over-year growth driven by the exposure that came with the World Cup, this year's MLS games on ESPN and ESPN2 had their second-lowest ratings since 2008, roughly on par with the WNBA.

"It's a difficult sport to televise, in that (American) football uses a similar-sized field, but all the players are concentrated in a very small area," said Douglas Logan, the league's first commissioner, from 1995 until 1999, and now an adjunct professor at NYU. "[With soccer], the players are widespread. If you show it all, you can hardly follow the ball. It's difficult to provide the American audience with the kind of pictures they want."

Dan Courtemanche, the league's executive vice president of communications, said that more standardized viewing times that come with the new contract will help MLS games become "appointment viewing" and lead to higher ratings. "There are 70 million soccer fans in this country," he said. "The opportunity is there. We just need to convert all those soccer fans into fans of their local MLS clubs." 

Willing to take a chance on that opportunity, more national brands than ever are establishing sponsorship deals with the league, with Heineken and Chipotle among the most recent sign-ons.

Jim Foster, a former National Football League promotions manager and the founder of the Arena Football League, said that MLS looks better positioned to break into the elusive top tier of American sports than any other sports league ever has. Foster's optimism starts with a young, diverse fan base that is, according to the league, 30 percent Latin American. Overall, the league has a higher concentration of fans in the coveted under-30 demographic than any other sport.

"Major League Soccer now has the tangibles it needs to be successful," Foster said. "You have so many transplants in this country that have come with an interest in soccer. Then you have these suburban white boys who grew up playing it. They have a much better base to work with than they did the first time around."

Logan, the league's first commissioner, is also optimistic—but dismisses the grand ambitions of a new major American sport that come with much of the media's coverage of MLS.

"My position on 'making it' as a sport is that you have the resources to play next year," he said. "Starting a league is a generational proposition, and can't be measured in 4- or 8-year horizons. Now we're closing in on 20 years. We're going into a second generation, and we're picking up fans who weren't even born when the league was born. It's a real success."


Friday, July 17, 2015

Wynalda and Harkes

(more to come)

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Timbers at home

Pretty sweet photo, and nice uniforms to boot.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The goalkeeper

At least in this photo he doesn't seem the most athletic. Almost like Barney takes up goalkeeping.

Monday, May 25, 2015

The Godfather pays a visit to Salt Lake

Jason Kreis' return bittersweet as RSL shuts out NYCFC
(by Conner Johnson 5-23-15)
Jason Kreis is the kind of person who doesn’t like to lose.
Just ask Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando, who admitted that he, among other players that have worked with Kreis, likes his work ethic as a manager.

“Jason’s very competitive. On the field and as a manager he doesn’t take losing lightly,” said Rimando. “He wants to win every game, and he puts a lot of that on his own back. The players like that. They like a leader like that.”

Saturday was a bittersweet reminder for Kreis that things don’t often come easy, especially after his expansion side fell 2-0 in his grand return to Salt Lake.

Struggling to a 1-7-4 record at the helm of New York City FC, the often self-critical Kreis has been dealing with the pressure of jumpstarting one of the largest market teams in MLS.

“I remember when I left (RSL) I said very clearly to everybody that pressure from me comes from me. Pressure from me doesn’t come from everybody else, because frankly I don’t pay attention to it,” said Kreis. “I’ve always been somebody who's been very self-focused and self-critical. So, that pressure doesn’t change. Certainly, the pressure seems to rise when you don’t get the results. And to go on the run that we have at the beginning of the season, I’ve been putting more and more pressure on myself and doing everything I can to deal with that the best way I know how.”

Noticeably absent from NYCFC Saturday evening was former RSL midfielder Ned Grabavoy. Having missed last week's game due to injury, Grabavoy went through a whole week of training before ultimately suffering a setback Friday.

It was the second match in a row Grabavoy has missed for NYCFC, after playing every minute for the club in the previous 10 games.

Adjusting to the New York way of life has also presented a new challenge for Kreis. From the influx of new people to simply planning transportation around the hustle and bustle of the Big Apple.

“The flip-side of that is that it’s a vibrant place,” admitted Kreis. “It’s full of energy and there’s a certain feeling about living around so many other people and so many different cultures that it’s pretty neat.”

Whether it’s building an empire in the desert of Utah or injecting his passion for the game into NYCFC, Kreis is still the same competitive person as when he left the Beehive State.

“I think that anybody that’s as competitive and successful as Jason has been throughout his playing and coaching career, he’s going to be somebody that’s constantly evolving and trying to better himself,” said former RSL defender Chris Wingert. “With that being said, I still think he’s the same person. He knows what got him to where he’s at, and that’s hard work. And he’s still working extremely hard and he's very detail oriented like he was when he was here.”



Jason Kreis returns to face RSL

(by Conner Johnson 5-22-15)

Familiar faces return as foes Saturday at Rio Tinto Stadium, when Jason Kreis and expansion side NYCFC take to the pitch in Sandy.

“I think tomorrow night will be the test to see how I feel,” Kreis told reporters prior to his team's training session. “It’s something that I’ve thought about from the moment I announced I was leaving, and made my decision to leave. I thought gosh what’s it going to be like to walk into that building as an opposing coach.”

18 months have passed since Kreis elected to trade the confines of Rio Tinto and Utah for the hustle and bustle of the Big Apple. Thus far, NYCFC is struggling to find its groove, boasting a less than stellar 1-6-4 record on arrival to Utah.

Most folks imagined Kreis at the helm of NYCFC would translate into success from the get-go. Kreis himself lamented he should have seen this coming, having been through the grueling task of building a top-tier franchise with RSL.

“Truthfully, I should have known that. I should’ve been in it from the beginning and said, Look this is going to be tough, so get ready for a lot of trying times,” said Kreis. “But for some reason I fooled myself into thinking that maybe this won’t be tough. Maybe this will be special. Maybe this will be different. Maybe I’ve learned so much that I’m just such a good coach that this will be easy, and that’s certainly not been the case.”

A hopeful Kreis admitted that although it’s been an emotional and trying challenge to relocate and start from the ground up, there’s still plenty of room for success in his NYCFC saga.

“It’s been difficult, but I knew that going in. My wife and I made a very conscious decision to take a challenge, and this is a challenge,” said Kreis. “We’re in the middle of it, so we’re still hopeful and still see that at the end of it all there’s going to be a big success story here.”

Kreis was hardly alone in his departure from Salt Lake to New York. Former RSL coaching staff, trainers and even players followed Kreis to the big-market club. Two pillars in the RSL franchise, Chris Wingert and Ned Grabavoy, joined Kreis in the Big Apple after being scooped up in expansion draft.

“I think that I’ll always look back at my time here as one of the most significant times of my life. Unless something crazy happens, I hope it does, and we play another five years and were still at NYCFC, there’s not going to be another club that we play at that is going to be as significant part of our career as that was,” said Wingert.

“In general, we’ll always look back on this stadium and the people in a really good light. I feel blessed, and I appreciate the fact that I was able to be here for so long with such a great group.”
RSL captain Kyle said he’s looking forward to an entertaining match Saturday, one filled with laughs, respect and hopefully three-points after the final whistle.

“I think it’s just going to be fun. We’ll turn it off, but at the end of the day we respect each other,” said the RSL captain. “There’ll be respect on both sides, on the field and off the field, so we’re just looking for hopefully an entertaining game and one that we come out on top.”

For Kreis, even with the hype and emotions surrounding his return to Salt Lake, this is just like any other match Saturday evening.

“We’ve had some emotional games already. You can imagine playing the first-ever game in franchise history in Orlando in front of 60,000 and then turning around and playing the first ever home game in Yankee Stadium in front of 50,000,” said Kreis. “Those were pretty big emotional affairs, and I had to speak a lot to the guys about keeping their nerves in check. I don’t think it’s something we're going to be too concerned with tomorrow night.”


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Ohhhh, snap

Red Bull fans take a swipe at the new FC NYC.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

A decade after first home win, RSL's only worry is opponents, not attendance

(by Brad Rock 4-19-15)

The day was pure clover, the oncoming night mild and purple. But it wouldn’t have mattered to Real Salt Lake’s fans.

They stopped worrying about small stuff like the weather long ago.

The outcomes, yes, they worry.

They booed when Vancouver’s keeper David Outsted held up the game with a questionable — and short-lived — injury; booed louder when Sebastian Saucedo got red carded in the 76th minute. And they were positively indignant when Jamison Olave got carded out in the 89th.

OK, so it wasn’t a perfect day for RSL. A Darren Mattocks header in the 80th minute provided all the scoring as league-leading Vancouver won 1-0.

Still, it could have been worse for the home team. It could have been an indifferent audience.
That hasn’t happened in a long time.

Saturday marked RSL’s 19th consecutive sellout and 21st in the last 23 games at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Utah’s second-most famous pro team likes to think of obstacles of any kind as “growth opportunities.” Take, for instance, the March 29 game against Toronto. It has long been feared that Sunday is a taboo day for live sports in Utah. But due to Major League Soccer’s TV deal, the club agreed to three Sunday outings this year. The first was a smashing success. The crowd of 20,794 was the largest in stadium history.

“We’ve got two more in June, but we’re not as worried about that,” said team P.R. chief Trey Fitz-Gerald. “But a Sunday game? In March? It was hope and pray.”

Maybe someone upstairs was listening.

Two days after the 10th anniversary of Real’s first home match, the Claret and Cobalt played to a loud and enthusiastic fan base. It’s been a decade since Brian Dunseth headed the ball into the net for the first goal in club history. He yanked the corner flag from its spot and replanted it, like any self-respecting warlord.

“The perfect metaphor on whether this is the place, or we’re here to stay, something like that,” Fitz-Gerald said. “Having that day gave us a sense of permanence and reality.”

For Fitz-Gerald, who arrived in 2005, a few weeks before the season opener, it was a shot in the dark. He also was on staff to help start the Colorado Rapids in 1996 and the Las Vegas Outlaws of the Arena Football League in 2001.

“After that, every single time, I said never again,” Fitz-Gerald said.

Then he asked original RSL owner Dave Checketts where to sign.

So they started building, beginning with players at the end of their careers such as Jason Kreis, Andy Williams and Clint Mathis, then brought on stars such as Kyle Beckerman, Alvaro Saborio and Nick Rimando.

They were on their way.

The championship season was in 2009, followed by an appearance in the 2013 title game.

Salt Lake was a legitimate MLS town, no doubt about it. Now Rio Tinto not only sells out, but has the biggest video board in the league. RSL’s home record is a superb 76-15-25.

What Real saw when it began was a more diverse market than outsiders imagined. The plan was to attract Hispanics and Europeans who grew up in soccer cultures, returned LDS missionaries who served in futbol countries, and youth soccer players and parents. It did that.

What the team has since discovered is that its base is a rabid following of 18-34-year-olds, of both genders, that make up the most vocal segment. The team now sells 15,000 season tickets.

A decade after the first Salt Lake game, RSL now has fans that grew up barely knowing a Utah without Major League Soccer.

So when the storm struck this week, there really wasn’t much to worry about. People who wear wool soccer scarves in 98-degree weather aren’t scared by snow. Turned out, it was a fragrant spring day, not much different than April 16, 2005, when the first home game was staged.

“Back then we were always like, ‘Is anybody going to come?’ ” Fitz-Gerald said.

They did, 25,286 of them, to Rice-Eccles Stadium. Twenty-thousand, four-hundred fourteen showed up on Saturday.

Weather and attendance may never again be a big worry.

Good teams like Vancouver are a different story.



Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Metro 96

For the upcoming 20th anniversary of MLS, a New York Red Bulls fan designed an anniversary jersey in old MetroStars colors.

I love that badge, "Metro 96".

Now that would be a kick ass name.

Monday, April 13, 2015

New York City bus advert

Welcome to the Big Apple MLS

Sunday, April 12, 2015

San Jose stadium

Scarves on every seat?


Saturday, April 11, 2015

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Real Monarchs 2015 road uniform (on the road against Portland)

I love this uniform.

The shade of blue is a little bit lighter than RSL's, and the way it contrasts against the red socks is perfect.