Real Salt Lake defeated Real Salt Lake today in a lunchtime scrimmage on penalties, with Cole Grossman sending home the winning shot. And by all that, I mean there was an intrasquad scrimmage at today's training, which was rather a joy to watch.
Jason Kreis as the referee, trainers as the linesmen, and an RSL XI taking on an RSL XI: There was a lot to be gleaned. Some notes follow.
- Cole Grossman put in a good shift for the blue side, finishing a shot from the top of the box (perhaps with a deflection -- the lack of replays was a little stymieing) and putting home the winning penalty under some somewhat-real-pressure.
- Chris Schuler has steadily become one of the most vocal players out there, if not the most vocal. It's easy to miss that when watching a match from the stands or the couch -- the sound simply doesn't carry. But he's down there directing the defense, steadying everything in the process. That's essential, and it's easy to see why he might have already won his spot back in the lineup.
- Joao Plata was the catalyst for a lot of good things on his side, but at times, he needs to just pick his head up and engage in better decision making. Still, he had a fine goal (scored after his first shot rebounded off Lalo Fernandez) and was a creative force.
- One side - red, if I recall - played in what seemed to be a 4-3-3, with Abdoulie Mansally taking up a left wing role, Joao Plata on the right, and Devon Sandoval down the center. As ever, everyone retreated into standard defensive positions, which makes our discussions about formation a bit difficult.
- John Stertzer grabbed himself a goal from a corner, rising superbly to meet Joao Plata's cross. While Stertzer did look a bit tired at times, it was probably the most strenuous thing he's done since falling to the injury bug (er, separated his shoulder) early in the season.
- On the injury note, Rich Balchan played and looked capable, getting forward and defending in equal measure. As he's missed a huge chunk of the season, it's encouraging to see him do well.
- Tony Beltran had a great attacking moment that was eventually called back for offside, but he essentially dribbled through the opposition defense. A remarkable player if there was one.
- Khari Stephenson scored a goal that came through some good combination play in and around the box involving Ned Grabavoy, Sebastian Velasquez, and of course Stephenson himself.