The Desert Diamond Cup finished up on Saturday evening and for the second time in the tournament Real Salt Lake was able to get a win over the New York Red Bulls, here is the official recap of the match from the RSL Communications team:
REAL SALT LAKE ENDS PRESEASON WITH 1-0 WIN OVER RED BULLS
TUCSON, Ariz. (Saturday, March 3, 2012) - Real Salt Lake ended its participation in the first-annual FC Tucson Desert Diamond Cup in the same fashion it started 12 days prior, with a 1-0 victory over the New York Red Bulls, this time in the tournament's Consolation Game at a packed Kino Sports Complex. DF Chris Wingert's laser from distance midway through the first half stood as the game's lone tally, allowing the Claret-and-Cobalt to finish its 2012 preseason on a winning note.
With nothing much doing in the opening half, it was Wingert's unexpected golazo in the 28th minute that breathed life into the contest. After receiving a quick square ball from MF Ned Grabavoy 30 yards from goal, Wingert cut back and, with plenty of space, unleashed a right-footed blast that caught Red Bulls GK Jeremy Vuolo off guard - and without much of a chance to stop the ball before it settled into the upper right 90. The rest of the half belonged to RSL netminder Nick Rimando, who stopped New York FW Kenny Cooper's 20-yard blast in the 32nd minute and his breakaway attempt four minutes later to keep the Red Bulls off the board.
The highlight of the second half for Real Salt Lake came with the 60th minute insertions of MF Javier Morales and FW Álvaro Saborío, the attacking duo making their 2012 debuts after recovering from injuries for the entirety of the last month. Saborío was in position to threaten on at least three occasions within the New York penalty area, but rusty touches and finishing would keep the Costa Rican international from finding the back of the net during his first run out of the spring. RSL center backs Jamison Olave and Chris Schuler would frustrate the New York attack throughout the evening, the defensive duo on the spot to clear away numerous dangerous crosses and cut off probing through balls that proved to be the Red Bulls' most common method of threatening the Real Salt Lake area.
With the preseason in the books, Real Salt Lake can now turn its focus to MLS First Kick 2012, presented by Dick's Sporting Goods, next Saturday, March 10, when the Utah side will travel to Southern California to take on the Los Angeles Galaxy. The rematch of last November's entertaining Western Conference Championship is set for an 8:30 p.m. MT kickoff at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., while ABC4's coverage of the contest will begin at 8:00 p.m.
The rest of the recap and my thoughts on the final preseason match after the jump:
RSL Notes & Quotes
- Click here for MLSsoccer.com's RSL-New York highlight reel from the Kino Sports Complex.
- RSL Head Coach Jason Kreis on his team's finish to its Tucson stay : "You want to finish the preseason with a win and we did that, so now we've got a little bit of a positive feeling going into the season. Everything here with the tournament has been superb - the facilities have been great, the hotel has been very good, the stadium here for the games has been great. The organizers, the owners of FC Tucson, have been nothing but professional. It's been a terrific experience and we hope to be invited back next year."
- On RSL's ongoing injury struggles: It's frustrating, for sure, but it's kind of a continuation of last season. It was exactly like this with one thing after another. We'll hope that, at some point here, we'll get everyone healthy; you saw [Javier] Morales and [Alvaro] Saborio played 30 minutes tonight, and Jonny Steele's coming off an injury, so I feel like things are heading in the right direction. With Wingert, he's okay, but it sounds like we'll have to get him re-stitched up on Monday after we get back to Salt Lake, so the bad news is that might make him questionable for next week."
- RSL Midfielder/Captain Kyle Beckerman on the team's injury situation this preseason: "Whenever you can get guys back and healthy it makes for a stronger team, so hopefully they can keep progressing like they have been and we can get back to full strength as soon as possible. We learned last year that there's going to be injuries and guys will have to step up. I think Chris [Wingert] will be alright though ... hopefully he came come back and hit a cracker like he did tonight again next Saturday."
- With tonight's result, Real Salt Lake finished its 2012 spring training stint with a 2-2-2 record, which included a 2-2-0 mark during the FC Tucson Desert Diamond Cup.
- Tonight's contest saw six players - GK Nick Rimando, DF Tony Beltran, DF Chris Schuler, MF Kyle Beckerman, MF Ned Grabavoy and FW Paulo Jr. - play the full 90 minutes.
- The half-hour stints for MF Javier Morales and FW Álvaro Saborío meant every RSL player but two, DF Nat Borchers and MF Will Johnson, were able to log some game action during the Tucson trip. While Borchers (L quadriceps strain) returned to full training late in the week and could be in consideration for RSL's 18-man gameday roster for next Saturday's season opener in Los Angeles, Johnson (R adductor strain) will be on the shelf for 2-3 weeks after undergoing surgery in the upcoming week in Munich.
- After traveling back to Utah on Sunday and enjoying an off day on Monday, Real Salt Lake will practice Tuesday through Thursday at its new training home of America First Field in Sandy. A detailed schedule including training times will be distributed vie media advisory on Sunday evening.
RSL: Chris Wingert 1 (Ned Grabavoy 1) 28
New York Red Bulls - Jeremy Vuolo (GK), Jan Gunnar Solli (Connor Lade 43), Markus Holgersson, Stephen Keel (Tyler Ruthven* 55), Roy Miller, Dane Richards (Mehdi Ballouchy 90), Teemu Tainio, Dax McCarty (Rafa Marquez 46), Joel Lindpere, Kenny Cooper (Juan Agudelo 46), Thierry Henry
Real Salt Lake - Nick Rimando (GK); Tony Beltran, Jamison Olave (Leone Cruz 80), Chris Schuler, Chris Wingert (Terukazu Tanaka 56); Ned Grabavoy, Sebastian Velasquez (Javier Morales 60), Kyle Beckerman, Luis Gil (Jonny Steele 60); Paulo Jr., Emiliano Bonfigli (Alvaro Saborio 60)
Referee: Jasen Anno
Referee's Assistants: Chris Strickland, Mike Kampmeinert
4th Referee: Kevin Stott
I think the Desert Diamond Cup proved that perhaps Arizona has become one of the real hubs of pre-season action for Major League Soccer, when you combine the Tucson based tournament and facilities with what Grande Sports World (home of the RSL Academy) in Casa Grande can offer you end up with world class facilities for teams to enjoy and get ready for the season. I want to thank MLS and FC Tucson for streaming the pre-season matches, it made the last couple weeks go by a lot quicker.
So how did RSL do on Saturday night? It was a lineup that is probably fairly close to what we might see on opening day, with the exception of Fabian Espindola, who wasn't involved in the match. I thought the biggest thing was the inclusion of Luis Gil and Sebastian Velasquez with the veteran midfielders of Kyle Beckerman and Ned Grabavoy, they brought a more creative element to the attack but it was clear that the defensive bite of the midfield wasn't as strong as usual but I thought that the backline did a great job of recovering and doing their best to break up the attacks of the New York Red Bulls.
Perhaps nobody had a bigger match than the Chris' it was Chris Schuler who made a number of huge plays and caught everyone's attention with his play, then there was Chris Wingert who scored the only goal of the match but had to leave early after a knock to the head that required him to get a couple of stitches.
This was still a pre-season match which means everyone can get a bit sharper on both sides of the ball, this was perhaps most noticeable on the offensive side as all week RSL created a lot of chances but were unable to get shots on goal or finish their chances. I expect that will quickly change as the season starts in less than 7 days.
You can't expect new players to simply replace players who are no longer with the team, there is no Andy Williams or Robbie Russell in our new players but there are a number of guys who bring different things to the team, and I have been very impressed with what each of them have to offer. I think this will be an exciting year and you will see all of our new players pushing hard for playing time, and then doing good things when they get on the pitch.
OFF MY SOAPBOX