Calm as you like on the pk, rocket of a shot on the third, and an overall superb match gives Javi the man of the match award. When this guy is on, RSL is seemingly impossible to beat. Best AM in the league? Quite possibly.
Wanker of the Match: David Beckham
Golden Balls reminded me of a frustrated high school player for large stretches of the game. He would get pissy with the ref, yell at him, then his fellow team-mates, then use up a ton of energy chasing the ball out of frustration. This played right into RSL's hands as they essentially made him look like a moving cone in a passing drill. Beckham can be a classy guy, but he lost his head for portions of this game. The RioT and RSL got to him a bit, you could tell.
Well, that's it for now. RSL is now on a break as they don't play again until April 5th @ Saprissa in one of the most important matches in club history. I will do a pre-game post on that one later this week or this weekend. It is sure to be a great game as Saprissa has to come out attacking and RSL could really do some damage with an away goal.
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Key Player to watch for RSL: Ned GrabavoyIt would be rather easy to use one of the typical RSL key players, like Beckerman or Morales, for this one, but I think this game is going to take something a bit extra. Ned has a history of being a great role player and occasionally stepping up big (see home game vs Chivas last year). For RSL to be successful Ned has to work his tail off on both ends. he will be replacing the energizer bunny known as Will Johnson so the shoes are mighty big (and worn out). He is likely going to be put on the same side as Beckham (our left, their right) and thus will be pivotal in shutting down the initial LA attack. I have a good feeling Ned will step up for this one.
In the end, this game will be a great one to watch; even if the weather sucks. I have faith in the good guys in red, especially on our home field. The first 15 minutes will be very telling. I think RSL comes flying out the gate ready to win.
Score: RSL 3 - LA 2
- PJ with a brace, Javi with the winner.
- JPA and Beckham with the LA goals
Hope to see all of you out there freezing your balls off (or if you are a woman... your bums) with me.
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Really there isnt much to say about this game except that it was wet, cold, and not that fun to watch (or play in, I'm sure). At the end of the day, the good guys in red came out victorious. It's funny for many of us "long time" RSL fans to have games like this go our way. In the early years these games were a recipe for disaster. If we got a point it was a miracle. It seems, though, that we have the lucky bounces on our side in recent years... literally.
All in all we got 3 points and should burn the tape from the game as nothing good can come of it. Scratch that, we can all laugh as Will Johnson falls over for the 15th time. I guess there is something to the game tape, afterall. Here is a brief follow-up with player ratings, man of the match, and of course, wanker of the match awards.
All players: B
- The reason for this is that it's really difficult for me to judge how a player's night went when half the time they are just simply trying to keep their footing. It's not fair to any of them to say they had a good night or bad night. They had lucky and unlucky nights, really. So, just to be fair, everyone (save Rimando) gets a B.
Man of the Match: Nick Rimando: A-
Our midget, as I call him, came through big time in this game. He acknowledged that he did get a bit lucky with some of the saves, but at the end of the day he kept a clean sheet in some of the worst possible conditions. 2 points in Nicky's favor on the season. He, along with pretty much all of the players on this squad, has a habit of making some key mistakes later on. So it is good to know that he got us 2 points in this game (we deserved a draw, I think) that maybe we didnt deserve.
Wanker of the match: The weather
This game looked as though it was going to be a very entertaining one as both teams were interested in playing attractive soccer. Because of the weather, however, this didnt happen. I can't blame a player or the ref (which is amazing given it was Toledo) for the poor play, it was 100% the weather.
Like I said, lets just put this one behind us and move on. This weekend RSL hosts LA. Though multiple players will be out either because of injury or international duty, this game should still be a joy to watch. Hopefully the weather doesnt kill it off, as well.
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After the first 15 or so, Saprissa changed their formation and strategy a bit and seemed to get more time on the ball. RSL was a bit more comfortable after the Saborio goal and didn't want to get too stretched, you could tell. Saprissa had its moments, but nothing ever really materialized. The game got chippy at times with a couple Saprissa players going into the book and some more deserving to but, for whatever reason, the ref decided against it. Saprissa was the better side for a little bit, but didn't really have much to show for it. They had a near goal later in the half, but it was called back for a legitimate offsides. That meant going into half RSL was up 1-0.
For moments after that it seemed as though RSL was just content with the 2 goal margin. The last thing they wanted was to give up a goal so they were really hesitant to push forward to hard. At the same time, Saprissa didn't want to leak anymore goals and thus made some rotations to play a full on counter attacking style. They resorted to long clearing balls, RSL wasn't its usual overly offensive passing self. Thus, the last 20 minutes can really be summed up as a bit awkward. Both teams didn't want to get scored on and thus weren't showing their true abilities offensively. It's the downside of a 2 leg series, but it is all part of the game. In the end, RSL probably could have added another but didn't want to expose themselves to that countering style Saprissa had settled into. The 2-0 result was a fair and just one.
Tony Beltran: B+
Nat Borchers: B+
Jamison Olave: B+
Chris Schuler: B
Robbie Russell: B-
Will Johnson: B+
Kyle Beckerman: B+
Javier Morales: A-
Andy Williams: A
Alvaro Saborio: A-
Ned Grabavoy: B+
Arturo Alvarez: B
Fabian Espindola (A)
Overall, just a wonderful night at the RioT. The fans were great, the play was, for the most part, very exciting and pretty, and the good guys won. You can't complain with that. Looking forward to the next leg, a lot of questions are in the air. For Saprissa, who fills in for their 3 suspended players and how offensive do they approach the game. For RSL, if Olave is out (even if not hurt, because of on the turf) who fills in for him and what kind of formation change, if any, does Kreis make. These will be looked at in the pre game post to that game on April 5th.
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FW: Paulo Junior
FW: Arturo Alvarez
Game Projection: RSL 2 - Saprissa 0
- Sabo with a brace: 33' and 65'
It may be more hopeful thinking than anything, but I think RSL will be able to get 2 goals and keep a clean sheet against Saprissa. I'm not 100% sure or comfortable with the idea that 2 goals will be enough to get us through to the next round, but I think it will be a good cushion nonetheless.
Regardless of the outcome, this is going to be a memorable night. You don't host a semi-final in your regions champions league (the grandest club tournament their is) all that often. Hopefully the fans that brave the weather (which looks to be actually pretty nice) will be loud and vocal. I would love to be singing "OLE, OLE OLE OLE, REAL SALT LAKE" the whole night through with 15K other crazy RSL fans.
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Full Name: Deportivo Saprissa Sociedad Anónima Deportiva
Stadium: Estadio Ricardo Saprissa Aymá
League: Primera Division de Costa Rica
Qualified as: 2010 Verano (League) Champion
Number of Appearances in CCL: 24
CONCACAF FIFA Club World Cup Representative: 2005 (finished 3rd)
Country and city: San Jose, Costa Rica
Manager: Juan Manuel Alvarez
(#, position, name)
1 GK Victor Bolivar
2 DF Yader Balladares
3 DF Victor Cordero
4 DF José Mena
5 DF Alexander Robinson
6 DF Esteban Sirias
7 MF Maikol Ortiz
8 MF Walter Centeno (2rd Captain)
9 FW Alejandro Sequeira (3rd Captain)
10 FW Alonso Solís
11 FW Allan Alemán
12 MF Fernando Paniagua
13 GK Fausto González
14 DF Roberto Wong
15 MF Saúl Phillips
16 DF Gabriel Badilla
17 MF Jose Luis Lopez
18 DF Oscar Duarte
19 FW Jairo Arrieta
20 MF David Guzman
21 FW Armando Alonso
22 GK Minor Alvarez
23 MF Juan Bustos
24 DF Ricardo Blanco
26 FW William Phillips
27 MF Mauricio Castillo
28 FW Josue Martinez
29 DF Javier Loaiza
30 DF Douglas Sequeira
32 MF Esteban Luna
33 MF Luis Diego Cordero
* every single player on this squad is from Costa Rica*
2010 - 2011 CONCACAF Champions League Stats
Advanced as 2nd Place in Group C.
Other members of group: Monterrey (1st), Marathon (3rd), Seattle (4th)
- 8/17/10, Lost, Monterrey 1 - Saprissa 0
- 8/26/10, Win, Saprissa 4 - Marathon 1 (goals by Sequeira, Arrieta, Martinez, and Alonso)
- 9/14/10, Win, Saprissa 2 - Seattle 0 (goals by Guzman and Aleman)
- 9/22/10, Lost, Marathon 2 - Saprissa 1 (goal by Arrieta)
- 9/28/10, Draw, Saprissa 2 - Monterrey 2 (goals by Meza (OG) and Mena)
- 10/19/10, Win, Saprissa 2 - Seattle 1 (goals by Arrieta and Martinez)
- 2/24/11, Win, Saprissa 1 - Olimpia 0 (goal by Alonso)
- 3/3/11, Win, Saprissa 2 - Olimpia 1 (goals by Alonso and Cordero)
Leading Goal Scorer in CCL: 3 by Alonso and Arrieta (tied)
Lineup that we can probably expect (or close to):
- (3-5-2) -
- GK: #1 V. Bolívar (played in both Olimpia matches, none previously)
- DF: #14 R. Wong (same as Bolivar)
- DF: #4 J. Mena (hard to tell who will be in the back with Wong, they switched for the Olimpia games)
- DF: #16 G. Badilla (same as Mena, these 2 are purely speculative)
- MF: #8 W. Centeno (played in both Olimpia matches)
- MF: #30 D. Sequeira (played in both Olimpia matches)
- MF: #21 A. Alonso (tied for leading goal scorer, in both Olimpia matches)
- MF: #20 D. Guzmán (played in both Olimpia matches)
- MF: #24 R. Blanco (one of 3 players to have played in all 8 matches)
- FW: #19 J. Arrieta (one of 3 players to have played in all 8 matches, tied for most goals on team)
- FW: #28 J. Martínez (one of 3 players to have played in all 8 matches)
They changed the lineup quite a bit but I would expect most of these guys to start or at least see the pitch in both legs.
Another interesting bit, the following players are on yellow card caution meaning that if they were to get a yellow in the first leg at the RioT they would have to sit out the second leg at Saprissa.
- #14 R. Wong
- #4 J. Mena
- #8 W. Centeno
- #21 A. Alonso
- #24 R. Blanco
- #9 A. Sequeira
For RSL, the players on yellow card caution are:
- #5 K. Beckerman
- #11 J. Morales
Yeah, we need both those guys.
Tomorrow I will have a preview of the match, just thought a little more information on Saprissa would be nice before that.
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These fans rival the Mexican fans in terms of craziness. They have been known to throw coins, rocks, bags of urine (no that's not a sick joke, I'm serious), etc at the opposing players, specifically keepers, while playing there.
What I am trying to say is that RSL will have its hands full for this one. To be comfortable going down there, I think RSL needs to get a 2-0 result here at the RioT. The clean sheet is vital, but the goal margin is even more so. Playing there is not an easy thing to do, but this club played well in Mexico City so who knows how much it will actually affect them. I have confidence in this squad, just hope they do themselves some favors and get a big lead while at home.
Regardless of how this series turns, this is a huge milestone for the club. To be in the semi finals of this regions grandest tournament is a testament to Jason Kreis, Dave Checketts, Garth Lagerway, Bill Manning, the players, the rest of the RSLFO staff, etc. All of these people have logged in hundreds if not thousands of hours for this club to get it where it is now. We are (I don't want to get ahead of myself but to prove how amazing this is) literally 4 matches, including these 2, away from going to Japan in the Club World Championships. Yeah, this is huge.
Get your tickets, invite everyone you know and then some, make some confetti, be loud, buy streamers, etc. This is, without a doubt, the most prestigious and important game this club has played at the RioT to date.
I will have a pre-game analysis of the first round at the RioT coming this weekend or Monday. Can't wait to write it, seriously. I want to go watch some history, how about you?
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The first 20 or so minutes were all RSL. The eventual goal by Saborio seemed as though it was destiny. RSL came flying out of the gate and was looking to strike as quickly as possible. Some early season rust did show at times as runs were a bit off and passes a bit heavy, but compared to where they should be (its not even MLS season yet, people) this team was incredibly dangerous. The second goal by Javi was what you could just label as a "RSL Goal". Great passing build up, and then the legend himself, Andy Williams, makes a pass that nobody else in the stadium saw. At first I thought he miss-played a ball to Sabo. Then I see Javi on the end of it and he reminded us all that his skill set isn't just limited to passes. Clinical finish, with Johnson standing on the back post just in case. Gotta love it.
My favorite part of the first half, though, came with the people around me in section 14. I have a wonderful tradition to make confetti and buy streamers for RSL matches. Its a great way to show excitement and love and, to put it bluntly, it looks cool. I always try to get kids around me involved. I'm not much concerned about the adults around me, if they wanted to throw a stream or some confetti then they would bring some themselves. The kids, however, don't have that power. What they do have, however, is power over those adults. If I get them hooked on throwing a handful of confetti and a streamer, they will beg their parents to not only go to another game but to buy some stuff to have fun while there. These two kids in front of me did not disappoint. One was eyeing my stuff from the opening whistle, looking at myself and his dad for approval. Handing him a streamer was a great decision. The other kid wanted in on the action shortly thereafter. He didn't have as great of an arm (he hit a guy in the head 2 rows down, it was awesome) but he was hooked right away too. The game was wonderful, but converting young fans to want to enjoy the game more than just cheering (like they do at Jazz games, the kid even said that "we cant do this at Jazz games, huh dad" it was awesome) was the best part of the first half for me.
The second half started slow. You could tell the Crew got a good chewing out at the break and were looking to get back into this thing quickly. They didn't wait too long. RSL, at the same time, seemed a bit flat and relaxed. They often say 2-0 is the worst lead to have in soccer, the first couple of minutes of that second half proved why. Instantly, via a terrific shot by Mendoza, Columbus was back in this match. Another goal and the game would be turned on its head. The RSL we all know and love, however, responded well. Quickly attacking and regaining possession. It was pretty even until the subs were made. The addition of Paulo Junior proved to be the correct choice. Sabo wasn't having the best of nights (which is funny to say considering he found a goal, I'm fine if his "off nights" are like that) and so the switch made sense. PJ got in behind and found Javi on top of the 18. His low shot was incredibly well placed and beat Burse, in goal for Columbus, pretty easily. However, it must be said that Espy was in an offsides position. The question, however, was did he effect play? While the shot did go pretty much right by him, he didn't move towards it; in fact I think he moved away from it. The AR on the east side didn't signal a goal for quite some time as he and the center ref were discussing the goal via their mics (at least I think they were). Eventually they deemed that Espy didn't effect play and that the goal should stand. This is one of those gray questionable areas of the rules that are left to be determined by the individual refs. I think they got it right... but of course I wear claret colored glasses.
The last 20 minutes of the match will be placed in my memory in the category of "golden moments at the RioT". In about the 73rd minute the drummers in La Barra Real and Union Real stopped. For a good 10-15 seconds the place sorta got quiet; it was weird. But then that universal chant that all of us RSL fans know started. However, unlike the times before when it had been sung during the game (which were several) it grew, and grew, and grew. It was just incredible to be part of. You could feel the chant moving up the east and west stands and eventually it wrapped all the way around the stadium. It seemed as though all 15 thousand + people that were there decided, yeah, its a good time to sing. Honestly, that moment alone was the moment of the night. Sure, we hung 4 goals (3 up to that point) on the Crew and looked to be in some pretty damn good form doing it, but that one moment of fan unison was a sign of, hopefully, things to come. This club is turning into something special in this valley/region. I say this a lot, I know, but you can see it with your own eyes. Back in 2005-2007 you wouldn't see anybody wearing RSL gear unless it was game day up at Rice Eccles. Now I see it, and I'm not lying when I say this, daily. People are taking this team to their hearts, they are making it their own, and the FO (to their HUGE credit) is allowing this grass roots evolution to happen. I only hope it continues and that in say maybe 10-15 years, this team rivals the passion people show for the U and Y football programs (which I place above the Jazz).
The night couldn't have been finished in a better way. Andy Williams, the legend that he is, builds a ridiculous move down the west sideline, eventually resulting in a foul (which really should have been allowed to play on, but we will cut Geiger some slack here). Andy steps up to the set piece, eyeing that near post, and the whole crowd could just feel it. It was as if the stadium hit that ball along with Andy. When that ball hit the net, the place exploded. We love Andy Williams here, there is no other way of putting it. The guy is, and forever will be, the original RSL Legend. I'm sure more (and I hope more) will emerge like Kyle Beckerman, Jason Kreis, Javi Morales, etc. But the original, who has been here since the beginning, holds a special place in RSL fan's heart's.
All I can really say to give that goal justice is that's the Andy we know.
All in all, it was quite a memorable night at the RioT. It seems as though all nights there are memorable in some way shape or form, but this one sticks out. I am hesitant to label it "best night at the RioT, ever" just yet, but its hard to make a strong argument against it.
RSL Player Ratings: (A-F)
- Great night from the midget between the posts. I only slight him a little because of the one goal (which really wasn't his fault, but its still a goal)
- Great night and really was the unsung hero in this one. He absolutely shut down the RSL Killer Jeff Cunningham. OLAVE SAYS NO!
- Nat who? Just kidding. But really, Chris showed that in case of injury or suspension we have a reliable backup. He isn't the prettiest of defenders, but you don't get extra points for style.
- Wingert had a great night, I only knock him down a bit because he didn't get forward much. It likely was instructed by Kreis, but when he and Russel go up, we are that much more dangerous.
- Same as Wingert. Robbie also had a couple scary moments through the night, but kept it clean. I highlighted him as the player to watch for RSL as he would get the Rogers/Cunningham-help assignment. I thought he did pretty well with those.
- The problem with being a D-Mid is that if you have a great night, it usually means nobody talks about you. Kyle was everywhere last night. Breaking up passes and starting the RSL attack. Kyle is the first part of our success of getting the ball from the back to the front. When you score 4 goals, he probably had a good night.
- The kid nearly beat his own goal back in 2008 for "best goal scored in the RioT" in the first half. That laser that rang off the far post was just ridiculous. Will was the energizer bunny we all love and expect him to be. Great night from the kid.
- It was the Javi show last night. I should be giving him MOTM awards, but meh...
- There were moments when Espy looked as though he hadn't played soccer in a couple years, and then there were moments when you wondered how this crazy left-footed maniac wasn't playing in Europe. The guy can flip a switch and be something special, its just keeping that switch flipped that is his issue. Still, though, he had the better night of the two starting strikers. You wont hear that very often when you are paired up with one of the best strikers in the league.
- Yeah, the lowest rating goes to the guy with the first goal, how funny. Sabo struggled and I think, like I said earlier, it had part to do with the outside backs not getting up. Sabo is much better when we use him as a target/cross-to forward then when we try to link through him. He still is good with his feet, don't get me wrong, but his skill in the air is just sublime. We didn't use the aerial attack as much as Columbus was a bigger side, and Sabo struggled a bit because of it.
Paulo Junior: B+
- Its hard to compared a subs contribution to that of a starter, but the little firecracker proved to be a tremendous switch. He deserves a good portion of the credit for the third goal as his creativity and awareness beat the Crew and put Javi in the right place. Great night from PJ.
- When he came on I just had to laugh. You knew Kreis was thinking "possession with anger" with that sub. Jean will either win the ball or make you wish he did after he swipes out your feet. I love this guy off the bench. He is a great asset.
- Grab-some-boys is quite possibly the best role player I have seen in MLS. He does his job so well but so quietly that you love him and forget him at the same moment. This is yet another addition by Garth that you just have to sit back and say "wow, we got ourselves a good GM"
Man of the Match: Andy Williams (A)
In all honesty, Javi should have won this award. But Javi will likely win it a good 10-15 times the rest of this season. Andy, though, showed last night just how special he is. I would argue this is the best he has been in terms of fitness in his career here. I know he has taken special pride in improving his fitness, and last night it showed. Who would have thought Andy freakin Williams would be making runs in the 90+ minute to create goals. Just insane.Wanker of the match: Robbie Rogers
I like Robbie, so don't get the wrong impression with this. Last night, however, he became a bit of a black hole. Outside of the 10 minutes in the second half when Columbus looked strong and Robbie was, thus, playing good connecting soccer, Rogers had an off night. He looked to goal from too far out and too often. He was, and you could tell, wanting to be the guy who made his mark and therefore, I would argue, played a bit outside of his normal self. This award will usually go to a guy I hate, but for last night nobody really had just an abysmal night (this is my way of saying well done officials).
The best part of this whole thing is that we live to see the next round. The semi's against either Saprissa or Olimpia will be exciting. It has already been determined that we will host the first leg on March 15th, so go get your tickets if you haven't already.
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