So it has been a crazy busy week for RSL, a big match last Friday, a trip to Costa Rica for Champions League on Sunday, a bit of a heartbreaking loss on Tuesday, back home for a day and then off to Colorado. My week hasn't been as busy with travel but lots of other things so I am a bit late in bringing you the official recap of the match on Tuesday:
10-MAN REAL SALT LAKE DROPS CONCACAF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE OPENER 1-0 AT C.S. HEREDIANO
Slow Start and a Suspect Red Card Doom RSL in Group 2 Opener
SAN JOSE, Costa Rica (Tuesday, July 31, 2012) - Real Salt Lake (0-1-0, 0 points, 3rd place in CCL Group 2) dropped its 2012-2013 CONCACAF Champions League opener on Wednesday night, giving up an early goal and controversially going down a man in the 58th minute to lose 1-0 at Costa Rican champions C.S. Herediano (1-0-0, 3 points, 1st place in CCL Group 2).
RSL now has a lot of work to do in Group 2, likely needing an absolute minimum of seven points from its three remaining Group Stage games to win the group and advance to the eight-team Knockout Stage.
Real Salt Lake started on the back foot, nearly giving up a goal in the 5th minute. RSL GK Nick Rimando came up with a huge save to keep it scoreless, making a stellar stop on Herediano DF Pablo Salazar's 10-yard shot following a corner kick.
Things didn't get any better for RSL in the ensuing minutes, as the Utah side continued to struggle in possession, kept ceding chances and even saw FW Alvaro Saborio pick up a soft yellow card.
The Claret-and-Cobalt's start went from bad to worse in the 14th minute, when Herediano MF Elias Aguilar scored to put the Costa Rican side up 1-0. Aguilar took advantage of a slip from RSL MF Kyle Beckerman, using the space created by Beckerman's fall to rip a low, 18-yard shot inside the far post from the left side.
more recap and post match quotes after the jump:
Real Salt Lake settled down a bit after the goal, holding a little more of the ball and creating a few chances. FW Fabian Espíndola came excruciatingly close to equalizing in the 30th minute, running onto a through ball from Saborío in the right side of the box before poking a 15-yard shot inches wide of the far post.
Herediano responded to Espíndola's chance with one of its own in the 31st. RSL DF Jámison Olave misplayed a ball in the back, allowing Herediano FW Ismael Gomez to collect just outside the box on the left side, cut in on his right foot and hit a curling shot toward the far post that Rimando just got a finger on to tip wide.
Both sides continued attacking in the half's final 15 minutes, with each team registering a half chance before the break. RSL also saw another important player pick up a yellow card before halftime, with Beckerman getting shown a yellow for persistent infringement in the 43rd minute.
Real Salt Lake started the second half much stronger than it did the first, holding the majority of the ball and creating a few decent chances in the early
MF Ned Grabavoy came close to scoring in the 52nd minute, collecting a loose ball at the top of the arc before hitting a deflected shot just wide of the right post. Saborío had a pair of half chances in the next five minutes, hitting a hard half volley just over the bar in the 54th and putting a contested close range header high in the 56th.
Unfortunately, RSL's solid start didn't last, with the Claret-and-Cobalt going down a man in the 58th minute when DF Nat Borchers was shown a very suspect red card for a sliding challenge on a 50-50 ball. Borchers' ejection forced left back Chris Wingert into the middle of RSL's defense, moved MF Will Johnson to left back and brought Espíndola back into the midfield.
RSL's central defense took another hit in the 60th minute, when Olave picked up an apparent hamstring injury. The Colombian defender couldn't continue, eventually coming off in the 63rd minute for DF Kwame Watson-Siriboe.
The Claret-and-Cobalt made another change in the 68th minute, bringing DF Kenny Mansally on for Espíndola. The switch allowed Johnson to move back into the midfield and kept Saborío alone up top.
Herediano also made a change in the 68th, bringing DF Derrick Johnson on for FW Ismael Gomez. Johnson didn't take up a traditional defensive position - his job was solely to follow Saborío all over the field.
RSL held up remarkably well for being down a man and without both starting center backs. The Utah side didn't concede any clear-cut chances and held a decent amount of the ball, pushing forward in search of an equalizer as often as possible.
In the end though, erasing a one-goal deficit on the road against the Costa Rican champions was too tall of an order for RSL, which couldn't scratch out any good opportunities after Borchers' red card.
The Claret-and-Cobalt will look to bounce back in CCL play on Aug. 21, when the club will host Panamanian champions Tauro FC at Rio Tinto Stadium.
RSL will return to MLS play before that, facing a quick turnaround ahead of Saturday's league clash at the archrival Colorado Rapids. The team will fly back to Salt Lake City early on Wednesday, resuming training on Thursday before heading to Denver on Friday.
POST-GAME QUOTE SHEET
REAL SALT LAKE 0-C.S. HEREDIANO 1
TUESDAY, JULY 31, 2012 - ESTADIO NACIONAL DE COSTA RICA - SAN JOSE, COSTA RICA
REAL SALT LAKE HEAD COACH JASON KREIS
On the match...
I thought our guys came out a little bit low on energy. We struggled to get possession of the ball and we're a team that likes to have possession of it, control the tempo of the match and we struggled to do that. And then we got punished for it, I think rightly so when Herediano scored a very scored a very good goal. But as the game wore on I thought we got better and better. Towards the end of the first half we put some pressure on them and I thought we were a little unfortunate not to score a goal. We came out in the second half and responded well, started well at the beginning of the second half, but anytime you suffer an ejection and you're already a goal down then it just becomes a matter of trying to keep the score line the way it was and trying to take that result back home.
On C.S. Herediano's performance...
We told our team yesterday that this is a very good team. I think it's a very technically gifted team, I think it's a team that's very gifted in the attack with some very mature players that obviously can create some real problems for us, as they did tonight.
On Alvaro Saborío's performance...
I think this was a tough game for Alvaro for a variety of reasons. I think it's always going to be tough to come and play in your home country with a team from another country. I know that he was feeling a lot of pressure for that and I also think that we weren't getting the right number of players forward to help him. I thought there were too many long passes into Alvaro and then he was dealing with three or four defenders all by himself. Like I said, in the beginning of the first half we weren't getting enough players up to support him and to give us more meaningful attacks.
His thoughts on the CCL in general...
We had a tremendous amount of success last time in this tournament. It's a big deal to us. We emphasize it, we want to have success in this tournament, and we want to make a name for this club, not only in our country but in the world. So we see this as a tremendous opportunity and we do - in the worst way - want to succeed, but now obviously we're in a difficult place.
His thoughts on the final score...
I was very good with the final score. When you're down a man you can't afford to take many risks. We feel that if we take care of business in our next two matches against Tauro, if we can have success in those matches; losing 1-0 is not the worst place to be. Herediano comes to our place in October, and only being down a goal, it would essentially become a head-to-head competition. We don't think we're in the worst spot in the world, we certainly don't like where we are, but we're not in the worst spot in the world.
REAL SALT LAKE CAPTAIN KYLE BECKERMAN
His thoughts on the match...
It was a tough game, one that we were in from the start to finish. We created some chances and on a different night we finish them and maybe we come out of here with a draw or a win. The red card changed some things but we actually kept the ball nicely and kept control of the game for the most part. We just needed that one goal to tie it up and maybe get more momentum to get the winner, but all in all it's not the worst result. We can bounce back from this. It's pretty much aggregate the way it goes, so we got to win the next time we play this team.
REAL SALT LAKE DEFENDER NAT BORCHERS
On his red card...
It was definitely a tough one for sure. I took a bad touch, went in hard on the tackle and you know I think maybe another place, another time that's a yellow card, if anything. I think it's really, really harsh to get sent off for that.
On if he got an explanation from the official after being ejected...
Nothing. Of course not. We have these kinds of refs, there's never any explanation with them, it's just their choice, their decision and you just have to unfortunately deal with it.
On the match as a whole...
I think first half they came at us with a lot of energy. They obviously created that first goal and had a couple of good chances after that, but we were able to absorb that pressure and I thought we responded well that second half. We were pressing them, we were definitely better in possession than they were, but the red card definitely changed things. We couldn't be as aggressive, had to sit back and be a little bit more defensive minded.
On how the team felt after the loss...
We were still very upbeat in the locker room. After the game we talked about how it's really a home-and-away series. We just have to take care of business at home. We have to take these guys down and we also have to take care of Tauro FC, as well. Really it's just going to come down to taking care of business in the next three games in this group.
On Kwame Watson-Siriboe, who Borchers will likely partner with on Saturday with Jamison Olave picking up an injury on Tuesday...
He's really an honest player - he wants to learn our system. He's really athletic, he's good on the ball, he's got a lot of potential and we're just giving him confidence, telling him you got the package here, you just got to continue to learn and continue to get to know our system and you'll do great.
On if he knows if there's an appeal process for CCL red cards...
I'm not aware of anything for sure. I'm very doubtful that we could appeal anything. I remember that Kyle got that yellow card in the away leg against Monterrey [in the 2010-2011 Champions League final] and we tried to do everything to have him back for the final but that didn't happen, so I highly doubt I'll be playing in the next CCL game against Tauro.
Well there you go, the official recap, some post match quotes. With just 3 matches left in group play there will be no room for mistakes. RSL will need to be very focused, test their equipment, and be prepared for just about anything if they want to pick up 3 wins to ensure they advance into the knockout rounds. They are going to need to win by big margins if they are going to want to ensure themselves of a good seeding in those knockout rounds. A few weeks until the next CCL match, which will see Panamanian side Tauro FC come to Rio Tinto Stadium on Tuesday, August 21st.
OFF MY SOAPBOX