Reserves Ratings: Schuler returns, defensive outlay quality

Matt Montgomery

Real Salt Lake defeated Portland Timbers' reserve side 1-0 today at America's First Field, with Devon Sandoval scoring the lone goal of the morning.

Defense and Goalkeeper

Lalo Fernandez: 8. The goalkeeper was rarely called upon, but the times he was, he performed admirably. Dealt well with a couple strong shots and came well off his line once to clear a ball in the midfield when the defense was caught sleeping on a corner.

Aaron Maund: 7.5. Maund started as the right back on the day and transition to center back later. He was consistent in providing a good option for the right winger, and he showed a good bit of speed in the process. Had a good day and played well alongside Brandon McDonald.

Brandon McDonald: 7.5. The relative newcomer has picked up the defensive system very well and was vital as an organizing factor. He didn't do too much wrong at all.

Chris Schuler: 7. I had forgotten how important Schuler can be to our play: Over and over, he'd break up play in the back. If he can manage to remain fit for an extended period, there's no doubt that he's in line to replace Carlos Salcedo. But when he went down in the second half in some pain, you could see the frustration. He knows he must remain healthy.

Ricardo Gardner (trialist): 6.5. The Jamaican international wasn't bad as a full back, but he didn't get forward more than once or twice — something that's essential for a full back in our system. On that performance, he doesn't bring anything our other full backs don't.

Midfield

Yordany Alvarez: 8. The man was all over the place, breaking up play and connecting the defense and the midfield. He also didn't pick up a red card. On that note, claims that he's a real liability are overblown, I think. He just needs to avoid losing his head once during a match and he'll be one of the best defensive midfield backups in the country

Cole Grossman: 7. The midfielder connected play well but needs to work on his off-the-ball movement. He was lackluster in attack, but strong in connection. There is hardly a better midfield for him to learn from than that at RSL, and he's a bright player. He'll improve in that regard.

Khari Stephenson: 6.5. Stephenson broke up play, but surely he was responsible to get a bit more into the attack. He took his shots well and nearly had a goal, but playing at the point of a three-man midfield, he needs to be a bit more creative.

Forwards and wingers

Sebastian Velasquez: 8.5. The sparky midfielder was deployed as a right-sided attacking midfielder, and in such, he was responsible for a lot of the good options RSL had in the first half. His assist for Devon Sandoval's goal was a thing of beauty, cutting the ball across the goal expertly. He could have had a goal or two himself.

Robbie Findley: 7.5. Deployed as a left winger, Robbie Findley played only the first half and got involved well. He doesn't excel cutting inside, but he was effective regardless. He didn't have much opportunity to stretch play, though, as Timbers were terribly unadventurous, leaving Findley further up the pitch than is necessary to stretch play.

Devon Sandoval: 8. Sandoval forced the ever-capable Pa Modou Kah into difficult situations all match, found his way into a one-on-one with the goalkeeper, and all-in-all looked dangerous. He also did well to finish Sebastian Velasquez's cut inside, which is to suppose that it was indeed him.

Substitutes

Abdoulie Mansally: 7. Mansally's ability is so often unrecognized: He's not the best defensively, but as a modern left back, he's actually fairly good. He provided an important outlet on the left side in the second half.

Brooks Lennon (academy): 6.5. Lennon was deployed on the right wing for Sebastian Velasquez and had some neat connective moments. He never really made an impact, but he worked well to ensure his defensive responsibilities were met.

Fito Ovalle (academy): N/A. Ovalle didn't play long in the midfield, but he did connect things well and showed a good connection with the academy kids around him. It's always interesting to see that, because as a small group, they had no problem playing against the Timbers.

Jose Hernandez (academy): N/A. Hernandez is tiny, but my word — he's got some real talent. He came on and set out to make an impact, and he nearly created a goal for RSL. Oh, and he's 17. This kid's got a bright future.

Nick Jackson (academy): N/A. Got on the pitch with minutes to remain. Didn't have much opportunity to do anything.

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