Real Salt Lake's reserves surrendered a three-goal advantage late in the second half as they ended in a 5-5 draw with the Houston Dynamo reserves.
RSL Reserves coach Jeff Cassar described the match as having "lots of positives and negatives."
"We got too spread out, we got too caught up in the game, too caught up with us scoring goals and having some joy and we got punished," he said. "But I think it was a good learning experience for the staff and the players."
We got too spread out, we got too caught up in the game, too caught up with us scoring goals and having some joy and we got punished. But I think it was a good learning experience for the staff and the players.
A hat trick from Emiliano Bonfigli, finished off by a superb chip of the goalkeeper, certainly boosts the Argentine striker's spirits as he continues to search for more first team minutes.
David Viana scored midway through the first half, picking up a deflected cross from Justin Braun and finishing at the near post on the left side. Sebastian Velasquez added a goal late in the second half, rounding the keeper and finishing from a tight angle.
RSL conceded two goals from penalties, and both were given away by RSL left back Kenny Mansally. The Gambian slid in rashly in the first half, then appeared to push or elbow a Houston player in the box for the second penalty. Both were finished without much issue.
Viana, who was surely fighting to see first-team minutes this year, had an excellent first half playing in the left central midfield spot usually occupied by Will Johnson. He showed good movement and understanding with the players around him, and his goal capped a bright first half. His second half dropped off as he struggled to find much time on the ball, with his runs growing less frequent throughout.
Cassar put his drop-off in the second half partly down to a glut of travel.
"In the first half I thought he did a very good job," Cassar said. "He's dynamic, got great feet, good vision; I think that he started to run out of gas a little bit in the second half after he's been traveling a lot and stuff like that. But just a solid performance for him and one to build on for sure."
Sebastian Velasquez, however, was the star of the show: His passing was in full form, grabbing two or three assists in the process, and his control was vital.
The defense, however, was, at best, lacking: Kwame Watson-Siriboe and Chris Schuler formed a fine partnership during the former's 30 minutes in the match, but Schuler and academy prospect Carlos Salcedo struggled at times. Further, Kenny Mansally, though excellent in the attack and a strongly creative force at times, struggled to get into the right positions on counter attacks. Despite his speed, Mansally was caught out too frequently. So too was Enzo Martinez, playing at right back after Watson-Siriboe came off, although when he stepped into the midfield he looked a degree more comfortable.
It was a frustrating but fun occasion, and as the MLS Reserve League should be, it could well be an excellent teaching tool for young defenders. One thing is certain: the attack can feel a good deal better about their collective performance than the defense. Both are team acts, though, and Jason Kreis is surely not going to be happy about this one.
But there were plenty of positives for Cassar.
"It was a good team effort," Cassar said. "It's always nice when your forwards are scoring goals. I thought that our midfield at times was very dynamic and played some good, penetrating balls and then our defense was solid at certain points but then got stretched out a few other times."