Real Salt Lake’s reserves ran out 2-0 winners over Colorado Rapids, and there’s plenty we can learn from the match. Here are four things I took away from the match at America First Field.
Olmes Garcia scored a goal. So did an academy player.
It’s exactly what the subhead says. Olmes Garcia scored a goal, and it was good. A 94th minute goal, at that — and it was beautiful.
Nick Jackson, an academy striker who has seen time with RSL in past reserves games, scored the opener in the 82nd minute after he simply waltzed up to Rapids defender Brenton Griffiths and snatched the ball from him, and from there, he pushed forward and finished easily. For the record, he also scored in a reserves game against Chivas USA.
Carlos Salcedo might not be a perfect solution in midfield, but it’s a thought
Once again, John Stertzer and Carlos Salcedo each took a half playing in the defensive midfield spot. Carlos Salcedo looked pretty OK there, but he went into a tackle rashly and perhaps dangerously. The red card that ensued illustrates why he’s not a perfect solution there.
John Stertzer was solid in the first half, but not as mindful of defense as Salcedo. He was, however, more involved in the attack, and that was sort of exactly what we'd expect to see.
The majesty of the young Jose Hernandez
Jose Hernandez, a midfielder from the RSL academy in Arizona, is really good. In fact, he fit neatly in our reserves midfield and was perhaps one of the best players on the day. He may be small, but he never backed out of challenges, and he went up for headers when the opportunity arose.
This isn’t to say that it’s what defines a good midfielder — there’s so much more than that. Hernandez was clean on the ball, precise in his passing, confident in his dribbling, and all around an excellent fit for our midfield.
His continued action for the reserves has served him well in his development; the first time I saw him play with us, he showed promise. In the short time since then, he’s become more than just a promising attacking midfielder — he’s turned into a sane option at the reserves level. It feels less like we’re giving him minutes simply to check him out, but that we’re actively aiding his development and providing a path to the first team.
Sebastian Velasquez could be brilliant
If he learns when to shoot. For all his talent, the flashy midfielder too often took an extra touch or six when he had a clear shot on goal. He's getting better about all this, but for him to really reach the next level, that's got to be a high priority.
He was active, effective and smart in possession, and this is surely a step up from a year ago. He's a good system player, but with some extra refinement, he will be great.
Who needs trialists, anyway?
It used to be that we’d bring in players for every reserve match to see how they might fare with the team. I don’t remember the last time I saw that —we’re finally reaching a point where those sorts of players are less necessary. We can bring in academy players to supplement our reserves team on match days and bring in trialists at a higher level.
This, of course, may also have something to do with the settled state of our squad — we aren’t actively looking for replacement pieces. But that we can be confident that academy players could, at some point in the future, make the team? That’s massive.