First step to Champions League Title


Here are the starting line-ups for the CONCACAF Champions League Group A Stage game between Real Salt Lake and Arabe Unido.


Real Salt Lake (MLS Cup 2009 Champions)

Starters:
Nick Riimando, Robbie Russell, Jamison Olave, Nat Borchers, Chris Wingert, Andy Williams, Kyle Beckerman, Javier Morales, Will Johnson, Robbie Findley, Alvaro Saborio 

Bench:
Kyle Reynish, Jean Alexandre, Tony Beltran, Pablo Campos, Fabian Espindola, Nelson Gonzalez, Ned Grabavoy

Jason Kreis - Coach

Arabe Unido (2009/10 Panamanian Champions)

Starters:
Jose Calderon, Nahil Carroll, Rolan De La Cruz, Eric Davis, Armando Cooper, Luis Jaramillo, Andres Santamaria,    Fidel Caesar, Mario Sergio Angulo, Jose Justavino, Victor Mendieta

Bench:
Jose Marin, Reynaldo Anderson, Pual Roderick, Manuel Mosquera, Ismael Menal, Publio Rodriguez, Oscar Londono

Richard Parra - Coach

Defending MLS Cup champion Real Salt Lake faces Panamanian titlist Arabe Unido tonight in the first of six Group A games in the 2010/11 CONCACAF Champions League slate, the fourth of RSL's 14-game, 56-day odyssey between August 7 and October 2.  During this run, RSL is 1-0-2 so far in MLS play.

RSL has dropped just one of its last 16 MLS games going 10-1-5 and outscoring opponents 29-8 since May 1, the lone loss coming at Dallas on July 17.

While RSL has posted a 7-4-3 mark against visiting International teams, outscoring them 19-16, this is the first time in the team's 6-year history that more than pride (money, hardware, tec.) is on the line.

On to the game...

At '15 mark...

RSL's Johnson had two (2) great shots on goal at the '11 mark.  A lot of aggressive action by RSL in the first 15 minutes.  But on a counter attack Arabe Unido's Cooper scores on a deflection off of defender Borchers at the '16 mark, which places the Panamanian Champions up 1-0.

more after the jump:

At '30 mark...

The game is starting to get very aggressive and it seems like RSL is starting to press too much since going down 0-1.  They need to just clam down and relax, there is still a lot of time left in the game.  A 50-50 play for the ball and a Arabe Unido player was given a Red Card; in which the official thought that Beckerman was what seemed to be high cleated on a slide tackle.

At '45 mark...

Arabe Unido will play a man down for the remainder fo the match due to what the official thought was a high cleat from a Panamanian player on a slide tackle into RSL's Captain, Beckerman.  Arabe Unido substitutes at '32 mark, Defender Anderson for Midfielder Jaramillo.  It seems Coach Parra is going to play a containment defense on RSL now due to the man down and having a 1-0 lead. At '39 mark, Chris Wingert had a great shot go high over the crossbar off a set piece from 30 meters.  RSL's Saborio bangs a header off the right post at '43 mark.    At '45 mark, Saborio scores an equalizer with a header into the bottom left side of goal.  That brings the score to 1-1.

At half...

What can I say, RSL finally starting playing like RSL knows how to play in the last five minutes before half.  Up a man b/c of the Red Card by Carroll at the '27 mark.  RSL needed to be as aggressive as ever trying to get an equalizer before half.  They finally found the back of the net with Saborio scoring the equalizer with an assist from Defender Chris Wingert at the '45 mark.  

Now let's see who Coach Kreis brings in as subs in the second half to allow our starters to have some fresh legs for their next CONCACAF match against the formidable foe from Mexico, Cruz Azul.

What can I say, RSL finally starting playing like RSL knows how to play in the last five minutes before half.  Up a man b/c of the Red Card by Carroll at the '27 mark.  RSL needed to be as aggressive as ever trying to get an equalizer before half.  They finally found the back of the net with Saborio scoring the equalizer with an assist from Defender Chris Wingert at the '45 mark.  

Now let's see who Coach Kreis brings in as subs in the second half to allow our starters to have some fresh legs for their next CONCACAF match against the formidable foe from Mexico City, Cruz Azul.

At '60 mark..

Coach Kreis brings in Espindola for Findley to start the 2nd half.  Seems like the Panamanian team is running out of gas at this high altitude.  That was one of the focal points of Arabe Unido coming to Salt Lake City since they play at sea level.  RSL is trying to get some fresh legs out there.  At '58 mark, Gonzalez comes in for Johnson.  The AU goalie goes down on a hard play in the box at '59 mark. 

At '75 mark...

Yellow Card was given to Williams at '64 mark.  Yellow Cards are flying in this game.  The Canuck officials will not let this game get out of control.  AU's GK, Calderon gets a Yellow Card for continuing to run his mouth at the official for (what he thought was) a flagrant foul by Saborio as he and AU's GK met each other in the air on a potential lead goal.  Grabavoy comes in for Russell at '74 mark.

At '90 mark...

As Captain of this team, Beckerman needs to take over and command this team to spread out and run the man down Panamanians to death.  RSL needs to quit bunching up in the middle of the field and spread it out.  Espindola gives up the angle on a shot on goal, he should have shot the ball two steps earlier and he would probably have scored at '82 mark.  The Panamanians are pulling out all the stops in the final minutes of this game.  Beckerman scores but the officials call him offsides and the goal is nullified.  The Panamanians have had four (4) ballers carried off on stretchers to then get u pand run back on the field like nothing happened to them.  There has been so much carnage (sarcasm) in the 2nd half that the officials gave this game eight (8) minutes of stoppage time.  In stoppage time, an AU defender knocks an RSL player down and Saborio scores on a penalty kick in stoppage to take a 2-1 lead.  Santamaria gets his 2nd Yellow Card in a two (2) minute span to make it a Red Card and give RSL a two-man advantage.  RSL needs to try and get an additional goal in the remaining minutes to get the goal advantage if needed.   Wingert picks up a Yellow Card.

Ending thoughts...

Wow!  Just plain wow!  I have never in my life seen so many players be carried off the field on a stretcher to then jump up and say they were okay and want to come back in the game.  What I have understood the stretcher was for is for a near death experience on the pitch, not to just be carried off and then come back in the game.

It seems with all the Panamanians being carried off on stretchers and Yellow Cards thrown, the officials lost total control of the game.  I am happy that RSL came out of this game with three (3) points, I am still not satisfied by their play throughout this game.  RSL has such an aggressive goal scoring mentality, you would think that they would have come out more aggressive.  Especially, with AU playing a man down nearly 70 minutes of the game.

I am happy with Saborio scoring our two (2) goals in this game, while still displaying why I think he is one of the best strikers in the MLS.  We got very lucky that AU defender knocked down our RSL player in the box, so Sabo could have an opportunity to give us the goal we needed to win the match on his converted Penalty Kick.

I do think Kyle Beckerman needed to calm down the team and get them to spread out more and not bunch so much in the middle of the field.  RSL had such an advantage because of the altitude and extra man that we should have ran them to death in that 2nd half and that would have opened up a few more lanes to try and score more goals.

To the best of my knowledge (without going back and researching), this is the first win for RSL this year where we came from behind to defeat our opponent.  We came back and tied up the game against Seattle at home earlier in the year. 

This win gives us a 21-game unbeaten home streak dating back to May 2009.  This is the 2nd longest streak in MLS history and we are only one game from tying Columbus' mark of 22 straight.

We need to come back next Wednesday and be ready to face our second foe in the CONCACAF Group A, when we face a very, very tough Mexican squad, Cruz Azul.

I'm officially off my soapbox for the night.

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