Real Salt Lake 1 - New York Red Bulls 0 in Desert Diamond Cup action

ddc 2

So thanks to Major League Soccer we were able to catch the RSL vs NYRB match live online last night, and if you tuned at the start of if you were probably wondering what teams were playing as RSL went the first 60 minutes with a lineup of rookies, trialists and academy players. New York went the full 90 with their second squad as the team had scheduled a pre-season friendly match against Pumas tonight in Phoenix (gotta get paid when you have big time DP's).

Here is the official recap from the RSL communications team:

REAL SALT LAKE WINS DESERT DIAMOND CUP OPENER 1-0 OVER NY RED BULLS

FW Paulo Jr.'s Goal in 75th Minute Enough to Give Claret-and-Cobalt First Win of 2012 Preseason

TUCSON, Ariz. (Wednesday, February 22, 2012) - Real Salt Lake captured its first win of its 2012 preseason slate Wednesday night in its FC Tucson Desert Diamond Cup debut, posting a 1-0 victory over the New York Red Bulls in front of 5,547 fans at the Kino Sports Complex. After a pair of draws during its opening spring training trip to Arizona, the Claret-and-Cobalt used a Paulo Jr. goal in the 75th minute and a shutout by GK Kyle Reynish to register its first "W" of the exhibition season.

Real Salt Lake's starting XI consisted mostly of draftees and trialists looking to secure a spot on the roster, and the relative lack of cohesion showed throughout a spotty opening half hour. It was the Red Bulls creating the first quality chances of contest, but FW Corey Hertzog's 8th minute header drifted high, while Reynish extended fully to his left to steer Jhonny Arteaga's 20-yard blast wide of the frame.

RSL soon began to earn chances of its own, beginning in the 12th minute when MF Nico Muñiz gained just enough daylight to crack a curling effort from the arc that bounced squarely off the right post. In the middle of the half MF Yordany Alvarez took his turn, running onto a bouncing ball 30 yards out and cracking a first-timer that Red Bulls GK Jeremy Vuolo had to knock down before gaining possession on the bounce. Vuolo was put to the test again in the 43rd minute when he saved FW Cody Arnoux's effort from 15 yards, while on the other end Reynish disappointed Hertzog again, this time with a quick reaction save on a poke from within the six-yard box.

more from the RSL team and my thoughts after the jump:

The second half saw RSL pick things up in the possession department, but the Utahns had no quality chances to show for it in the first 20 minutes. A "line change" in the 66th minute saw the bulk of RSL's regular starters end up on the field for the finish, and the energy and sharpness would pick up from the get-go.

The increasingly one-way traffic towards the Red Bulls goal paid off a quarter-hour from time, when DF Chris Wingert slipped FW Fabian Espíndola into space down the left flank. The Argentine striker's floated cross to the back post was nodded home easily by Paulo Jr. to put RSL on the board and give the Brazilian his opening goal of the preseason. Espíndola's own attempt from 20 yards off a free kick restart in the 79th minute that was parried away well by Vuolo marked the last chance of note for either side.

RSL Match Notes

· Real Salt Lake will see New York at least once within the next month, as the Red Bulls will help RSL open up its Rio Tinto Stadium slate on Saturday, March 17 (8:00 p.m. MT kickoff). The teams could also meet again during the FC Tucson Cup Championship/Consolation round, which will close out the inaugural edition of the tournament on Saturday, March 3.

· Tonight's effort marked the first shutout of the preseason for RSL, this after the Claret-and-Cobalt registered 1-1 draws during their opening Arizona visit against Vancouver Whitecaps FC (135 minutes, Feb. 10) and D.C. United (90 minutes, Feb. 14).

· The hour-mark entrance of defenders Chris Wingert and Tony Beltran marked the outside backs' first match action of spring training. Wingert had been nursing a right hip flexor strain, while Beltran continues to come back from a left adductor strain.

· Meanwhile, three other players continued to be held back as they continue to rehab from injuries - DF Nat Borchers (L quadriceps strain), MF Javier Morales (R quad strain) and FWÁlvaro Saborío (R knee internal injury)

· Only one RSL field player, MF Sebastian Velasquez, would go the distance on the night, playing the first two-thirds of the contest at the top of the midfield diamond before slotting back to the left side in favor of Luis Gil during the 66th minute swap of casts. On the opposite end of the spectrum, left back Diogo de Almeida had what amounted to a cameo appearance, coming on at the halftime break for trialist Lance Laing before stepping aside for the return of Wingert at the hour mark.

· RSL-Arizona Academy defender Carlos Salcedo showed favorably during his 66 minutes of action, doing well to be on the spot to clear dangerous balls into the area and provide last-second challenges to thwart some New York attacks.

· Real Salt Lake will stay off the field Thursday for the first time since its arrival in Tucson on Monday afternoon, opting instead for a regeneration workout session at the team hotel. The squad is scheduled to get back to the Kino Sports Complex training fields on Friday with an 11:00 am practice.

· Real Salt Lake will use that session to prepare for its second match in the Desert Diamond Cup tournament, taking place Saturday night against the LA Galaxy. Kickoff for the contest is set for 6:00 p.m. MT and will be streamed live on MLSsoccer.com. Click here to visit MLSsoccer.com's home for comprehensive coverage of the 2012 MLS preseason.

Real Salt Lake Preseason Recap

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

FC Tucson Desert Diamond Cup, Matchday #1

Real Salt Lake 1 : 0 New York Red Bulls

Scoring Summary

RSL - Paulo Jr. 1 (Fabian Espíndola 1, Chris Wingert 1) 75

Disciplinary Summary
NY - Leobardo Alvarez (caution) 33

Real Salt Lake Line-up

Kyle Reynish; Terukazu Tanaka (Tony Beltran 60), Leone Cruz (Chris Shuler 66), Carlos Salcedo (Jamison Olave 66), Lance Laing (Diogo de Almeida 45) (Chris Wingert 60); Nico Muniz (Luis Gil 66), Yordany Alvarez (Kyle Beckerman 66), Sebastian Velasquez, Enzo Martinez (Ned Grabavoy 66); Emiliano Bonfigli (Paulo Jr. 66), Cody Arnoux (Fabian Espindola 66)

New York Red Bulls Line-up

Jeremy Vuolo; Jonathan Borrajo, Tyler Ruthven*, Leobardo Alvarez*, Connor Lade (Andrew Welker* 86'); Brandon Barklage* (Willis Forko* 81'), Ryan Maduro* (Jose Angulo* 46'), Victor Palsson, Mehdi Ballouchy; Corey Hertzog, Jhonny Arteaga (Giorgi Chirgadze* 71')

So a couple of things really stuck out to me, first Yordany Alvarez is as good as I remember him being at the end of last season, and RSL was wise to stick out the negotiations and get him as a permanent member of the RSL family. Second, it appears that Paulo Jr. is back to 100%, even when he played at the end of last year he looked a bit hesitant, which made him look slow. That wasn't the case last night as he was quick and energetic playing on both sides of the ball, it will be great to have him back.

Cody Arnoux did a lot of things right, his positioning was good but after a year without playing he seems to be looking to reclaim his goal scoring form, it could be a case of trying too hard. I wonder if he might not be well served to work with Jason on some extra training, similar to what Yura did his last year with RSL? Nico Muniz looked as good in a game situation as he did at practice last weekend, and while he isn't the finished product yet, I think he could be a real impact player in the future for RSL.

I thought it was interesting that Enzo played a bit more reserved, in part because of the position he was in but I think the maturity level had him less frantic during the match. Sebastian showed why RSL drafted him as his energy and creativity were evident, he will need to work on playing in control and with the rest of his teammates, but he clearly was excited for the opportunity to play.

Kyle Reynish proved what I have been saying for the last couple years, he is the best number two keeper in MLS and I believe he could probably be starting at a number of clubs. He made great saves and provided leadership to a group of defenders that have little to no playing time together.

I thought my surprise of the night was Lance Laing, who I thought did really well on both sides of the ball and showed the speed needed to get back and forth to support the flow of the game. I know that Columbus has a discovery claim on him, but we might need to make a phone call about that. I hope that he gets more minutes in the next RSL match, so we can see more of him in action.

RSL's next match will be against the Los Angeles Galaxy on Saturday at 6pm MT. LA lost their first match 3-2 as the New England Revolution pulled off what has to be considered a upset in the first match on Wednesday night.

OFF MY SOAPBOX

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