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Real Salt Lake 1st Quarter Report Card - Team and Players

Well it is that time again, like last season I will break the season into 4 quarters(8,7,8,7 matches) and evaluate where the team and each of the players stand in my eyes on a typical grade scale:

A=Exceeds Expectations
B=Meets Expectations
C=Meets Requirements
D=Below Requirements
F=Failure to meet Minimum Requirements

Players who fail to have played in at least 10% of the possible RSL minutes will get an incomplete.  I did not include our 3 players on loans.  

So after 8 matches RSL sit at 4-3-1 with 13 points (1.625 per match), which if they can maintain for 30 matches would give them 48 points and clearly sitting in a play off position, here is what the table looks like:


Of course expecting MLS to have the table right, is silly.  The first tiebreakers is the record against the other teams with the same number of points RSL is 2-1-0 against the 4 teams with 13 points, Houston is 1-1-0, Colorado is 0-1-0, and San Jose is 1-1-0.  That means the first tiebreaker would go to RSL, but hey why expect the guys at MLS to know their own rules, hell they still haven't loaded the MLS player of the week Alvaro Saborio into their stats database.  Oh as a FYI, the second tiebreaker is goal differential against all opponents, and yes RSL would win that against all 3 teams as well.

RSL as a team gets a B+ from me, their 13 points is more than the team has ever had before week 11, their 15 goals is more than they have ever had before week 10, and their 9 goals allowed are the fewest ever for the team at this point of the season.  RSL has one road win, it took them until week 13 to get that last year, but expectations are higher this year and RSL's road play has been better than their 1-3-0 record would indicate.

After the Jump you will find the individual player ratings:

Well here it is:

Player name


Min - Goals - Asst

Reason For Grade

To Improve

Jean Alexandre



Jean is simply waiting for his chance 
to get some more playing time.  He has
had a call up with the Haitian National
Team, and played the full 120 in the US
Open Cup win over San Jose.

Jean is in his second year and
now is just waiting for his chance
to get more time, the US Open
Cup and CCC will provide it.

Kyle Beckerman


720 - 2 -2

I have been a fairly harsh critic of Kyle
over the last couple years, but late last
season he stepped it up into a new gear
and that has carried over to this year.
He has provided solid defense and in
the time where Javi was hurt and the
offense needed a spark, he was there.
Kyle is the leader of this team and if
he keeps up his focus and energy, it
could be a good year for RSL.

All that I can ask of Kyle is to
continue to be the leader he has
shown himself to be. We will need
his focus and drive all year long
as RSL faces their longest season

Tony Beltran


347 - 0 - 1

Fighting for a spot on the backline is a
tough task for any player, but often Tony
will find his size to be a handicap, like
against Houston.  The upside is that his
speed makes him a great choice against
teams where size is less important.  I
think Tony is be best offensive threat for
RSL's outside backs.

The only thing Tony can do is
ensure when he gets minutes, that
he takes full advantage of them.
I expect as the season goes along
that his speed and offensive ability
will get him back into the normal
starting 11.

Nat Borchers


693 - 0 - 0

Rock solid, when you get a guy who is
one of the best at what he does 95% of
the time, you depend on him and that is
what RSL does.  Last year Nat had a full
time job defending and trying to keep an
emotional Olave out of trouble.  Now all
that Nat has to do is be the solid player
that he is.  A couple early season lapses
had me concerned but over the last
month it has been back to the rock solid
Nat we all rely on.

Stay healthy, and do whatever it
takes to keep the communication
flowing on the back line.  With so
many target players on set pieces
I expect that Nat will find more
chances than in the past, he will
need to convert them to help the
team out.

Pablo Campos


72 - 0 - 1

Recovery from an injury has allowed
Pablo to get back into the lineup for
RSL, thanks to some injuries of others.
Pablo has done exactly what has been
asked of him, and was the creative end
of one of the best goals I have seen in
several years as he feed a perfect ball
to Saborio against TFC.

Stay healthy, with Robbie getting a
USMNT callup, the minutes should
add up quickly for Pablo and his
ability to work well with Saborio is
going to give RSL two big target
forwards.  This could be really big
in the CCC later this summer.

Fabian Espindola


373 - 1 - 1

Before getting hurt Fabi was on a pace
that was similar to 2008 and was one of
RSL's main offensive weapons.  His
relationship with Javi and Nelson makes
him all the more dangerous for RSL.  He
does need to work on his mental game a
bit, as he too often gets upset and makes
mental mistakes and silly plays, as the
season goes on I look for Fabi to have a
huge role.

Focus and staying in control, are
the keys for Fabi.  He has all the
ability to be a huge star in MLS
but it will require him to play within
himself.  Getting healthy and then
staying that way will be a huge
part of what RSL will need from
Fabi this year.

Robbie Findley


473 - 1 - 2

Robbie had huge expectations going
into this season, mostly put on him by
himself.  While Robbie was trying to get
his goal scoring touch going this year, he
did pass up a couple chances to create
for others.  Robbie got his call up to the
USMNT, and it seemed to click a switch
for Robbie who played last weekend with
more energy and passion than I had
seen in a while.  The result was a good
goal, and several opportunities. I can't
claim to know where Robbie will play
next year, but this year the expectations
are still very high for him.

I had hoped that the January and
February USMNT camps would
have given Robbie to work on the
most glaring weakness he has,
a rough first touch. If Robbie can
figure out how to bring the ball
down like Saborio or Campos, he
will become a huge threat on both
the team and national team level.

Luis Gil


0 - 0 - 0

Luis made a choice to play in MLS, he
knew where he wanted to play and RSL
was willing make a deal to get him here.
He has a huge upside, but as a young
player he will need to practice a lot of
patience.  Here is a great article about

Continue to work hard both with
RSL and the various US Camps
that you will get call ups for.  You
have the skills to be a superstar;
you have some great players to
learn from.  Spend a lot of time
listening and watching how they go
about their business

Nelson Gonzalez


141 - 0 - 1

Nelson plays with a youthful enthusiasm
that is welcomed and fun to watch, but
he has to remember that as important as
the attack is, controlling the match and
completing quality passes are just as
important.  Minutes will continue to come
as RSL deals with call ups, injuries, and
a busy schedule.  Nelson needs to be
ready to take full advantage of those

Nelson is another player who will
get more playing minutes as the
season goes along, he must
continue to play well and focus on
how he can continue to improve
his play.  Focus should be paid to
completing quality passes and
getting into the right position to keep
the attacks moving forward and
resulting in goals.

Ned Grabavoy


176 - 0 - 0

The departure of Clint Mathis left a open
spot in the RSL midfield, Ned claimed it
in the preseason and in the first few
matches of the season.  An injury took
him out of the lineup, but Ned's willing-
ness to do whatever it took to get back
to being fit have him back and ready to
go almost a month before most people
expected him back.  It is that heart and
passion, along with his ability on the ball
that have given RSL a real valuable
player who can boost an already deep
midfield roster.

I have to hope that Ned isn't rushing
back from his injury; the midfield is
the one place where RSL's depth is
very solid.  I can't wait to see how
the battle for a starting spot in the
RSL midfield compels Ned and
others to up their game.

Will Johnson


705 - 1 - 0

Will is the guy who simply doesn't stop,
he plays like a man possessed and for
RSL that is a good thing.  He will attack
every 50-50 ball; he is the embodiment
of the 11 men playing defense, 11 men
playing offense.  Will has a rocket for a
leg and can provide quality set pieces; it
was his quick thinking against TFC, that
got RSL their early goal.  It is that kind of
game awareness and smarts that makes
Will such a vital part of the RSL midfield.

There is little that Will can do, it is
just a matter of improving his
passes and clogging up the passing
lanes of the other team.  A chance
to play with the Canadian National
team against Argentina, should only
help Will as he continues to fine tune
his game.

Rauwshan McKenzie


44 - 0 - 0

Very limited action for this year's waiver
claim by RSL, he has looked solid and
can provide us with an option in central
defense with both size and quickness.  I
look forward to seeing more of McKenzie
as the summer goes along.

Like many of the other new faces to
the RSL roster Rauwshan needs to
continue to adjust to a new team and
the "Team is the Star" mentality.  He
will get more playing time with the
CCC and Open Cup matches coming
up.  I look forward to seeing what he
can do to distinguish himself in those

Javier Morales


427 - 3 - 4

After a decent 2009, I wasn't sure what to
expect from Javier, but he set the tone in
the very first match when he got 2 goals &
1 assist in the win at San Jose, only
an injury has slowed him down.  He came
back to full fitness recently and has gotten
back to match sharpness quickly.  RSL is
simply a different team with him in the
lineup, he takes us from a solid team to
one that has to be considered a top team
in the league.  His passes and creativity
help the team force opponents to think
before moving forward with numbers.  He
has set the bar high in the first few weeks
of 2010 but if he can continue, he will be
a legit MVP contender.

The only thing that Javi can do to
improve his grade is to stay healthy 
and there is only so much a player
can do on that front.  Keep up the
great work Javi.

Jamison Olave


703 - 2 - 0

From 2009 wildcard to 2010 defensive
force of nature.  When Olave plays and
keeps his emotions in check he is simply
one of the best central defenders in all of
MLS.  A couple early calls have gone
against him, not because he made bad
plays but rather that his positioning made
him do things that other players can't do
and MLS officials think fouls have been
committed.  His 3 yellow cards have him 2
away from a suspension, but he has done
well in recent weeks to keep himself out
of trouble.

Continue to be dangerous on set
pieces, play within yourself, and
do whatever it takes to stay healthy.
Those are the only things I can ask
Jamison to do, as he has been very
solid all year long.

Robbie Russell


347 - 0 -1

The fact that Robbie can play so many
positions well makes him a real value
to have on the roster.  It is hard moving
from side to side to fill in but Robbie does
it.  I like how he moves forward to create
and support the offensive attack, he is a
good crosser of the ball.  I do think he
needs to find a way to be more of a
factor on set pieces and he needs to keep
his feet under him.  A couple times he has
lost his footing and opened the door for
opponents to create scoring chances.

Sometimes Robbie's speed hurts
himself as he is able to get back
into position but on slick surfaces
it seems that he has had trouble with
his footing.  When our defense is
doing so well, small mistakes are
often the only thing opponents can
take advantage of.  We must not
give them more chances than is
absolutely necessary.

Alvaro Saborio


520 - 4 - 2

You simply never know what RSL will get
when they bring in a striker.  We have
seen big names fail, and now a name that
left many scratching their heads in the
preseason has them chanting his name.
Saborio is a force on set pieces with his
ability in the air, he is masterful bringing
balls down and into control and he knows
when to take the shot.  His vision and
attacking style gives RSL a real shot in the
arm on offense.  His pressure on keepers
is world class and if you make a mistake
he will make you pay.

More, more, and even more.  I do
think as teams adjust to him that he
will find himself needing to pass the
ball more in order to keep defenders
from simply collapsing around him.
I look forward to watching the
progress he makes each week as he
learns to play with our guys and as
our guys learn to play with him.  He
could be a legit Golden Boot threat in
MLS this year.

Chris Schuler


0 - 0 - 0

I keep waiting to see "mini-Olave" get
some minutes with the first team.  He has
looked solid in training and when he gets
minutes in Open Cup and friendlies.

Rookies have to stay focused, as they
try to learn and adjust to MLS and
each teams style.  Chris seems to be
doing well with each of these and I
look forward to seeing him get more
playing time in the future.

Collen Warner


187 - 0 - 0

RSL went out on a limb in working to keep
Collen from going overseas to look for a
team, and it looks like the risk is going to
pay off well.  Early season injuries have
allowed the rookie to get some quality
minutes with the first team, and he hasn't
disappointed.  He has the ability to play
both outside and in the creative role in the
midfield, which will give him added value
for RSL as the season goes along.  I have
heard many say that he has all the tools it
takes to make it in MLS and to be a very
good player at this level. 

It is easy for a young guy who gets
minutes with the first team to get
frustrated when he has to sit on the
bench.  I hope that Collen knows that
more playing time will come but with
so many quality midfielders minutes
are going to be limited.  He has to
continue to take advantage of the
minutes he gets and more will be the

Andy Williams


517 - 1 - 1

With Andy, I continue to be amazed, he
simply is beyond belief.  After a year of
huge ups and downs in 2009, I honestly
thought Andy might just hang the cleats
up in 2010.  Thankfully I was wrong, no
instead he stepped in when he had the
chance and hasn't looked back.  He is
as always high energy and creative on the
pitch, his fitness is impressive and he has
been able to make a real difference for
the team on a regular basis this year.
His defensive efforts have been much
improved and really make him a very
complete player for RSL.

I would like to see Andy actually take
more shots, he has an ability to
cause keepers to be unable to handle
the ball cleanly and with our guys
crashing the box better and more
than ever before, that could lead to
real opportunities to score.  I do think
there is some work to be done on
making his set piece efforts more
consistent, but other than that it is one
of those, "keep on, keeping on" cases

Chris Wingert


470 - 0 - 0

I did make the bold prediction that this
would be the year that Wingert would get
his first MLS goal.  However after seeing
his last couple shots, I am now wishing he
would just stop.  OK, not really but I think
he needs to spend some time working
with Andy on his long range efforts.  Chris
is a solid back who knows how to push up
into the midfield in support of the attack.
He has done well of not pushing too far
forward that he gets caught out of position
on defense.  A healthy Chris gives RSL a
bunch of options on defense.

I think Chris needs to be a bit more
confident on the ball, he is great at
keeping possession.  I know that it
seems at times that moving the ball
quickly is best, and it is but there are
times that holding it for the right
chance is the better decision.  The
depth on our backline will really be
important as the season goes along
and Chris is a major part of it.  He
must learn only to take quality shots,
no more playing "Medhi" with the
high and wide shots.


Min - GAA - SO

Reason for Grade

To Improve

Kyle Reynish


0 - 0 - 0

Kyle is sitting in the wings, waiting and
watching.  He knows his chances will
come with the US Open Cup and even
with the CCC.  If you haven't seen him
play, he is solid, in fact he was great in
the friendly against the Mexican U21 team

He must continue to learn how the
other teams play, he must work to
develop the same level of trust and
communication that Nick has with the
guys on the back line.
Staying sharp at all times, because
you never know when you will be

Nick Rimando


720 - 1.13 - 2

While he may still be mad at me, there is
no doubt that Nick is still one of the best
keepers in all of MLS.  4 of the 9 balls to
get by him this year have been from the
PK spot.  A few others have been the
results of defensive mistakes, not many
people have actually beat Nick in goal.
For Nick fitness is the key to a great year
if he can continue to play every minute
with the first team in MLS action, he will
always give RSL a shot at getting a win
in every match.  He simply is a difference
maker for the team.

The only thing I can ask of Nick, is to
continue to work hard with the young
players.  You have a great wealth of
knowledge about the league and the
players in it.  There have been a few
times this year where it looks like the
communications between you and
the backline have broken down and
resulted in chances for the other team,
work on eliminating those chances.

I always know that some people will disagree with my evaluations, feel free to comment with your opinions and changes.