Real Salt Lake entered Los Angeles Saturday as an underdog and came out the victor. Jeff Cassar got his first MLS victory and his first road victory on the same night. It’s got to be a good feeling for the Claret and Cobalt. Here are 10 tidbits I picked up from Saturday night’s action.
Luke Mulholland appears to be this season’s Jonny Steele – but much better. Mulholland has some great creative potential and adds a lot when he comes onto the pitch. He should have had his first goal Saturday, but I suspect he’ll have many chances to impress moving forward.
2.Disaster at Referee
The replacement officiating crew was awful. From a blown offside call on the Mulholland goal to the bogus penalty kick that nearly cost RSL two points, the referee was a disaster. Actually, that’s unfair. The AR was a disaster. The center referee was just moderately bad. Seriously, I think the only close call the crew got right all night was allowing Plata’s goal to stand. Here is the freeze frame seconds after the ball left Beckerman’s foot:
3. Being Nicky
Nick Rimando is, well, Nick Rimando. He played an exceptional match, only making one mistake. Fortunately for him, Robbie Keane was unable to punish RSL, and Nick found himself one match closer to the all-time clean sheets record in MLS.
Question… if you’re Jurgen Klinsmann in the 119th minute of a tied knock-out World Cup match and you still have a sub available, don’t you sub Nick in for the shoot-out? His skill at stopping penalties is unprecedented. Just saying.
4. Don’t Quit Your Day Job Cobi
No one can take away from Cobi Jones’ playing career. It was sensational. But his broadcasting work leaves a lot to be desired. Call me crazy, but he won’t make the leap to national broadcasts anytime soon.
By the way, isn’t it amazing how many exceptional US players end up as lousy broadcasters? By my count, the Loved you on the pitch, hate you in the booth all-stars include:
- Kasey Keller
- Cobi Jones
- Mustachioed Alexi Lalas (although he’s great clean shaven or with a full beard)
Am I missing someone? Let me know in the comments section.
Note: Taylor Twellman was a great player and is a great announcer, but his USMNT playing career never realized its full potential. Maybe this means Landon Donovan and Michael Bradley are destined to join this list, while Kyle Beckerman and Nick Rimando will end up as great broadcasters.
5. Allen’s Debut
Jordan Allen made his debut for RSL. I’m less intrigued by how he played (ok, but it was only a few minutes) than why he got his chance to step on the pitch in the first place. He entered at forward over Olmes Garcia. Admittedly, Garcia is just a forward, while Allen is a Swiss-Army Knife that can do a lot of different things. Maybe that was the reason.
Still, the sub would have been Olmes in the Jason Kreis era. That says something.
For all the whining up in Canada about a lack of respect, Real Salt Lake was easily the most snubbed club this off-season. The side came within three bounces of winning the treble last year, its opponents in the west all made risky personnel moves, and Salt Lake is somehow the side analysts say might take a step back.
So what did the Claret and Cobalt do? They proved it on the field. In a weekend where New York got blown out by a lousy Vancouver side, Seattle barely won a home match against a battered (and preparing for CCL) Sporting club and Portland needed heroics just to salvage a home point against Philadelphia, Salt Lake won a road match against the Galaxy. Hm… who is the top squad in the league right now?
RSL probably won’t hit the top of the power rankings this week, but Jeff Cassar’s men should be there. That’s par for the course.
7. Consistency Rules
Every off-season in MLS (and virtually every other sport, too), analysts praise the gutsy moves to bring in big name players. But the clubs that typically win are those who keep a consistent core of players together year after year. The role players can change, but the core has to remain the same.
It especially helps at the start of the season, as RSL just demonstrated.
8. Seriously, Aaron Maund?
If you’d asked me after MLS Cup last season whether Aaron Maund would be on the RSL roster this year, I would have laughed. If you’d suggested he’d make the 18 on opening night, I would have thought you were misinformed. If you’d merely speculated that he’d start and play a decent match, I would have called you a fool.
I was wrong.
Maund (thanks to a poor pre-season from Carlos Salcedo) got the start and played reasonably well. He got beat by Robbie Keane in the 7th minute but used his speed to catch up to the Irish legend and eliminate the danger. He even added a decent flick on goal in the 26th minute. RSL fans will still be hoping for Chris Schuler or Kwame Watson-Siriboe to return soon, but Maund played decently.
Not bad for the 4th or 5th Centerback on the roster.
9. The Man of the Match
Joao Plata was amazing. If he keeps this up, Robbie Findley will have to work hard to get his starting spot back. Even before his goal, Plata was my man of the match.
10. Gil’s Struggle
On the flip side, Luis Gil was the one RSL man I was disappointed in. Gil just didn’t have a good night, playing a few bad balls and otherwise disappearing. He’s a talented young man, but he needs to take the next step if he wants a prayer at making the 23 man roster for Brazil. Saturday didn’t help in that regard.
Category: Five Thoughts