Real Salt Lake drew the Vancouver Whitecaps 2-2 Saturday. Here are 10 tidbits I picked up from the match.
1. 3rd Late Collapse
This is the third time this season Salt Lake has conceded late goals to give up points. The first two came on set piece disasters, but this time things went down a bit differently. Salt Lake went up two goals in the first 10 minutes before coasting for the bulk of the match. They got caught sleeping twice to end the match, which ended with the side dropping two points.
“Every game takes on a life of its own. This has nothing to do with the games we’ve won 1-0 or the games when we’ve given up a late goal against somebody else. Completely different situation,” defender Chris Wingert said. “But we need to continually learn from our mistakes and try to improve, and we’ll try to do that this week.”
2. Unbeaten Streak
Real Salt Lake extended its unbeaten streak to eight this season and 12 regular season matches dating back to last September. RSL has started the season on fire despite playing a brutal opening stretch. That’s a good sign and sets the Claret and Cobalt up to contend for the Supporter’s Shield this fall if they can continue at a reasonable pace through the World Cup.
Notes on the Streak: The win to start the streak came against Vancouver. RSL is now the 9th club in MLS history to start a season with eight matches unbeaten. The MLS record for longest unbeaten streak to start a season is a three-way tie at 12 matches. RSL will take its show on the road the next two weeks to face the Chicago Fire and Houston Dynamo. Both opponents are struggling, but RSL has historically struggled at Houston in particular. Time will tell if the streak can continue that long, but the points RSL has accumulated matter more than the record.
3. Plata Starts and Scores
The Ecuadorian made an appearance last week, but got his first start back Saturday. He made it count. Plata opened the scoring with a goal in the 2nd minute to put Real Salt Lake on the front foot for most of the evening.
“Joao is a spark plug,” coach Jeff Cassar said. “He puts the fear in defenders and I thought he did a great job tonight.”
Cassar noted that he removed Plata in the 63rd minute just to be safe as he is coming off a hamstring injury.
4. Wingert on Attack
Between last week’s victory over Portland and this Saturday’s match against Vancouver, Chris Wingert has shown up going forward a lot more. Against Portland, he dribbled through zone 14 to set up Javier Morales’ near goal. Against Vancouver, he assisted on Joao Plata’s goal and spent a good deal of time in attack.
“I try to take what the game gives me,” Wingert said. “As an outside defender, sometimes I need to get up into attack and help the team… The beginning of the game allowed that… but in the second half we didn’t have the ability to do that quite as much.”
5. Goal Responsibility – Bad Passes and Goalkeeping Errors
Real Salt Lake conceded two late goals in this match. Both were very different, but both started with poor losses of possession and ended with goalkeeping errors.
The first started when Kyle Beckerman made a bad pass that was intercepted. The captain was forced to hack down an opponent to stop a potential shot. However, the ensuing set piece allowed the goal. It started when Sebastian Velasquez headed out the initial ball, but didn’t get it out of bounds. Instead, it fell to Darren Mattocks who dribbled around Velasquez and fired a hard shot on goal. Nick Rimando bobbled the catch and Nicolas Mezquida put it away.
Beckerman and Velasquez share some responsibility for this goal, but it’s mostly on Rimando. He has to catch that ball. On a scale of 1-10 of save difficulty, I can’t imagine that’s above a four. It’s probably a two or a three.
The last second equalizer came when Alvaro Saborio took a slightly heavy touch dribbling up-field and was tackled by Steven Beitashour. The ball fell to Sebastian Fernandez who fired a shot from 35 yards out that beat Rimando.
While Saborio needs to take a better touch on the ball or just clear it far downfield and the other defenders could do a slightly better job of closing Fernandez down, this goal is mostly on Rimando. The knuckling tricked him, but it’s a 35 yard shot that is well within his range. If he’d made this save, we wouldn’t even remember it. There are a lot of complicating factors in rating this save: the distance, the knuckling, etc. But I suspect it would be somewhere between a three and a five.
6. Rimando Shutout Record Watch
With a clean sheet Saturday, Nick Rimando would have tied Kevin Hartman for the all-time MLS record for most shutouts (112). The two late goals ruined Nick’s night, but he’ll break this record soon enough.
Obviously, you’ll be hearing about the record again when he breaks it in a week or two. This won’t be the only record Rimando breaks either. He is on pace to break most of the league’s all-time goalkeeping records before he’s done.
7. Fans in Their Seats Early
Fan attendance at kickoff of Real Salt Lake matches has been much better this season. Saturday’s match stuck out particularly to me because of the rain and cold conditions. The 7:30 start times certainly have had something to do with it, but I’d like to think that RSL fans have stepped up their game as well.
8. Female AR
Felisha Mariscal served as one of the assistant referees Saturday, which is significant because Felisha is female. I don’t know the history on MLS referees that are female, but I’m sure the numbers aren’t good. It was nice to see a multi-gender squad out there policing the match.
She did suffer a few cat-calls from the crowd. That was disappointing and hopefully won’t be repeated in future matches with a female referee.
9. Gil Out Injured
After making the 18 last week, Luis Gil was left out of the lineup with a hamstring injury. Gil declined to attend the U.S. U-21 camp to rest his hamstring, but he did train for much of the week. He’s not quite ready to go, but could be back as early as next week in Chicago.
10. Other Injuries
Real Salt Lake was also without Robbie Findley (knee), Rich Balchan (adductor), and Cole Grossman (shin) due to injury. RSL has already missed 40 games from players this season due to injury. Fortunately, the side appears to be getting healthier in advance of World Cup departures.
Category: Five Thoughts