Did you need some drama on Tuesday night, you didn't need to look at prime time TV on the big networks, instead it was on Fox Soccer where Real Salt Lake was able to withstand a strong effort by Tauro FC and pick up a late win. On a night when normal back up keeper Vladimir Villareal was outstanding (he made 6 huge saves) it was a stoppage time mistake as he fouled Alvaro Saborio in the area the lead to a 93rd minute PK goal that was the only goal of the match and gave RSL a lifeline in Champions League group play. The 1-0 win allowed RSL to move up to 6 points with one match left (home against CS Herediano) in which they will need to win by 2 goals if they want to advance to the knockout rounds of the Tournament.
You can check out my match thoughts from the match thread where I posted live updates. On the night RSL dominated possession 56.8% to 43.2%, took more shots 16 to 10, had more shots on goal 7 to 2, over 100 more passes with 472 attempts to 359 for Tauro FC, passing accuracy was high for both teams as RSL had 81% and Tauro had 77%.
While it was Alvaro Saborio who was fouled, took and converted the PK, it was also Sabo who picked up the only RSL yellow card in the match. That means he will miss the next match, when CS Herediano comes to Rio Tinto Stadium on October 23rd.
after the jump some post match thoughts:
So I expected RSL to play aggressive in this match and I thought they did, I expected Tauro FC to play for respect (both from RSL and self) and they did, I had hoped that RSL would make offensive minded changes in the second half and I think we missed a real opportunity to do so. I thought Fabi was playing very well and taking him off was a mistake, I would have loved to see RSL jump to a 3-4-3 for those final 25 minutes. The thought of Fabi and Paulo Jr. playing wide with Sabo in the middle is one that I would love to see come to life, and in this match were a win was a must I thought we missed the chance to really pressure Tauro.
Paulo Jr. did what I expect when he came on for Fabi, he provided energy but he wasn't nearly as effective in my opinion. I thought Luis Gil did well when he came on for Jonny Steele, but it really was a lateral move with nothing gained as both were solid and provided some creativity from the midfield. That change may have been more about fresh legs for guys who haven't gone 90 minutes in recent weeks. Javier Morales, Will Johnson and Ned Grabavoy were all very good on the night, I think we saw both Javi and Will were able to be great sparks on the offensive side of the ball, while Ned filled in greatly for the suspended Kyle Beckerman.
Our defenders were very solid, only once did Nick Rimando look uncomfortable all night. I do think RSL wasn't as able to use our outside backs getting forward nearly as much as they did in the first match between these two teams, but both Tony Beltran and Chris Wingert were very good on the night. Nat Borchers was simply Nat, solid and in the right place at the right time, and Jamison Olave made his return to the RSL starting XI, he may not fully be 100% but he was good enough to help RSL keep another clean sheet.
Nick was rock solid, he provided us the support we needed and helped to keep us in the match.
Now RSL's destiny is in their own hands, no matter what happens when Tauro FC heads to CS Herediano next week. When the final match in the group is played RSL will need to get a 2 goal win in order to have the first tiebreaker (head to head goal differential). Maybe Tauro FC can pull off an upset next week, but I like RSL holding their destiny in their own hands.
What are your thoughts about the match?
OFF MY SOAPBOX