Salt Lake claims 1st Round versus rival Colorado
By Ethan Gomberg at Rio Tinto
Colorado Rapids and Real Salt Lake renewed years worth of rivalry in Utah as the Rapids traveled to Rio Tinto Stadium to take on Inter-Mountain West rivals Real Salt Lake for the Rocky Moutain Cup.
The Rocky Moutain Cup (RMC), is a fan based and initiated rivalry Cup conceived by the respective fans in 2005 before RSL even played a match. The RMC has 3 legs this year, with RSL hosting 2 and Colorado hosting 1.
Once the game began, there was expected aggressive play from both Rocky mountain rivals. Considering the passion from both clubs’ players on a average game and the emotions the RMC brings out this wasn’t a surprise in the least.
RSL rookie Sebastian Velasquez characterized his first match of the RMC this way:
“It was amazing! I knew it was going to be two teams that were going to battle.”
Colorado made little change from its wining XI versus the Chicago Fire for their trip to Utah. RSL made some changed to their starting XI, they were forced to due to injuries to Javier Morales and Ned Grabaovy in the last match versus Montreal.
Sebastian Velasquez returned to start, as did Will Johnson for the 2nd straight match.
Speaking about Velasquez’s return to the starting eleven, Kreis said:
“He was fantastic, really fantastic. He drew the short straw, all the midfielders got healthy at the same time. So to go from not being in the 18 and starting tonight, says a lot about Velasquez.”
RSL had the majority of the chances in the first 15 minutes but in the final third but the offensive finishing.
Saborio and Espindola were especially dangerous in their first starting for the pair.
Rapids defender Kosuke Kimura was sent to target Saborio, resulting on one occasion in a fairly aggressive stiff arm from Saborio on the Japanese defender.
Kimura may have embellished the foul by Saborio, regardless the fans in Rio Tinto Stadium let Kimura know they thought so. They booed him every time he touched the ball for the rest of the match until he was substituted out by coach Oscar Perja.
In the 20th Saborio received a beautiful assist from outside back Tony Beltran. He was making the run and tricked the off-side trap, finding a diving Matt Pickens vainly trying to defend the on-rushing Costa Rican striker to give RSL the lead at half time.
Real Salt Lake came out to the final 45 with renewed vigor, usually attributed to teams that of the trailing team. Steady and unrelenting pressure on Colorado resulted in greater control of the midfield and possession. This greater urgency resulted in both RSL strikers getting multiple chances.
In the 57th minute a long pass up top from Luis Gil found a streaking Espindola who seemed to have had help from his arm before steering it home. Colorado had a legitimate issue with the hand/arm ball but Colorado’s defenders and keeper Pickens decided to argue before the play was even over.
With this goal, Espindola now ties Robbie Findley with 29 goals scored while playing for RSL.
Kreis said of Espindola’s work rate and goal:
“Fabian [Espindola] gets, what do you call it? Creative liberties. And I am pleased that he does.”
Beckerman is close to suspension and has to be careful in his next few matches.
After the match RSL coach Kreis said of this week’s performance (at Portland, vs Montreal and Colorado):
“Three matches and nine points, extremely pleased at this point.”
Colorado continues after the loss by traveling to Seattle next week in another powerhouse Western Conference battle. Western Conference leading Real Salt Lake travels to all-league leading Sporting KC where it will be a potential preview of MLS Cup 2012.
Jason Kreis was already looking forward to it:
“There’s no doubt that Kansas City is a very, very good team. Even last year they caused us some real problems with their tactics. The good thing is that now we have a week to prepare for it.
We also had what was a very poor performance last year at Kansas City to draw off of, so we’ve got areas for improvement and we’ve got a lot of reasons why we should go there and be extremely motivated.”
20′ Alvaro Saborio (Tony Beltran)
57′ Fabian Espindola (Luis Gil, Tony Beltran)
Matt Pickens 58′
Jamison Olave 74′
Kyle Beckerman 74′
Luis Gil 81′
Drew Moor 81′
Real Salt Lake
Nick Rimando, Chris Wingert, Nat Borchers, Jamison Olave, Tony Beltran, Sebastian Velasquez (59′ Jonny Steele), Kyle Beckerman, Luis Gil (82′ Yordany Alvarez), Will Johnson, Fabian Espindola (89′ Emiliano Bonfigli), Alvaro Saborio
Matt Pickens , Kosuke Kimura (60’Tony Cascio), Tyrone Marshall, Luis Zapata, Marvell Wynne, Drew Moor, Brian Mullan, Jeff Larentowicz, Martin Rivero, Jaime Castrillon (76′ Kamani Hill), Omar Cummings