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Real Salt Lake 2nd Quarter Report Card - Team and Players

At week 8 RSL was 4-3-1, at week 15 they are 9-3-3 and that means the 2nd quarter was a 5-0-2 quarter for Real Salt Lake, and now the team is on a 10 match undefeated streak (a team record), they haven't given up a goal in 498 minutes (4th longest in MLS history), their 30 points is 11 better than they have even been after 15 matches before. Their 28 goals scored lead MLS, and are 6 more than they had last year.  

The defense is improved as RSL has given up just 11 goals, second best in MLS this year and 6 fewer than RSL's previous best in 2009. RSL has had two MLS players of the month out of three months of the season, player of the week honors have gone to RSL players 3 times already this year.

Folks here is the curve I use for grading:

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

If you don't think this team is performing at a "A" level, well then you either aren't pay attention, or are such a cynic that nothing can impress you.  You may not like Bill Manning, Garth Lagerwey, or Jason Kreis, but you can't question the results this year.  The only match in which RSL was outplayed in was the 2-1 loss at LA, we were the first team to beat LA (they are 1-1-1 since we beat them).  

Real Salt Lake landed 3 players in the first XI for the 2010 MLS All Star match, more will be named to the 23 man roster.  If it weren't for the incredible LA start 11-2-3, then RSL's 9-3-3 would be the best in all of MLS.  All of this with the team dealing with injuries to Javier for a few matches, Fabi for a few matches, Robbie for a couple matches and his time with the USMNT, and with Captain Kyle Beckerman on the injured list for the last 6 matches.

The funny thing, is that nobody at RSL is patting themselves on the back, they don't believe they have accompished anything yet.  They are as hungry now, as they were heading into the playoffs last year and for RSL fans this simply means that more good things are to come.

After the jump, player grades:

For individuals you must have played at least 10% of the minutes to get grade, anything less and you will get an incomplete.

Player

Grade

Last grade

Min - Goals - Asst

Reason For Grade

To Improve

Jean Alexandre

B-

I

267-0-0

With lots of matches and some injuries Jean has been able to get on the pitch enough to qualify for a grade.  He has done OK, you can tell he needs more playing time to get really comfortable with the speed and physical nature of play.  He is a tough kid who sometimes plays too rough for MLS, but I think he is going to be a great player to have in the future.

We are heading into a very busy stretch and Jean will have to be a part of many matches both in CCL and MLS.  He has to be careful to not get into card trouble; his size and physical nature seem to overshadow his quality.  We had this issue with Olave, but in time they come around.

Kyle Beckerman

B

B+

744 - 2 -2

The shame of this is that Kyle has been hurt and only played one match in this quarter.  A testament to the quality Kyle brings is that despite that he was elected to the First XI for the All Star match.  A testament to his focus, he declined and wants to focus on getting in full fitness for RSL.  This is why the guy has the armband, he is leading by example.  Good to see

Get healthy, with CCL and our continued efforts in MLS we need both is abilities and leadership.  I expect that if Kyle can get back to 100% before August that RSL can do well in the CCL group stage, we will do great at home and Kyle can help us be solid on the road.

Tony Beltran

B

B-

593 -0-1

Tony is part of our rotation at outside back, and a very important part of it.  He will see his playing time jump over August and September as we hit both MLS and CCL play.  Staying focused and fit will be important, Tony's size can be an issue depending on matchups but his quickness and quality getting forward make him a very dangerous player.

For Tony, staying focused even when he isn't on the pitch will be the key, we will need him the rest of the season.  The team has to be able to change up their style of play and Tony is one of the keys to being able to do that,  he gives us a very different threat than either Wingert or Russell and that makes him valuable.

Nat Borchers

A-

B

1323- 0-0

I fully expect Nat to be named to the All Star team.  He and Olave anchor the backline of the second best defense in MLS this year, and now the team with 4th longest shutout streak in league history.  He isn't a flashy player, he is simply rock solid and as the signs around the stadium (more and more often) say "Borchers Tortures".  Just ask anyone who has to play against him and they will tell you it is no easy task going up against Nat.  Not Nate, Nat.

Keep on keeping on, you are putting forth an All Star worthy performance and quite simply have been one of the leaders of this team for some time, both in word and in actions.  It will be interesting to see how the offensive chances on set pieces go for the rest of the year, we have more targets than ever in the box and that should create scoring chances for Nat.

Pablo Campos

B-

B-

214-0-1

Pablo has filled in nicely and while he hasn't found the back of the net, he has created trouble for defenses that have to cover him both as a finisher and a provider when he has the ball in the final third of the pitch. His size and strength, combined with his first touch make him a threat to score from anywhere.  I look for some big minutes for Campos in CCL play over the next couple months. 

  You know that Pablo has to be chomping at the bit to get minutes and be part of the great offensive run RSL has been on this year.  He simply has to remain focused and ready.  We have seen injuries and callus create chances and you never know what the next match holds.

Fabian Espindola

B+

B

794-4-1

Fabi almost got a rare "A" from me, but he has to remain in control.  Last year he had a couple instances where he made bad decisions and it cost the team. This year he has been lucky, twice he could have gotten red cards for silly violent actions.  We saw last week in the Sounders match, it only takes one stupid mistake to cost a team points.  With RSL in rapid pursuit of the Galaxy, we can't lose points for silly reasons.  Fabi still has been a force of nature in both creating and finishing, he attacks defenders unlike anyone else on the RSL roster and that is something we need.

The same advice that was given to Olave last year, don't let them get in your head.  If you react by scoring, or making a great play it means you win and the team is successful. If you react, then you lose and it can cost the team.  The fans love the way you play, don't make mistakes that keep you off the pitch.  With Robbie back, the rotation of forwards should allow all 4 to get more minutes and that means you may be on the bench when you would rather be on the pitch, but your chances will come, just be ready.

Robbie Findley

B+

C+

579-3-2

Since returning to RSL, Robbie has scored a goal in both matches.  While he may not have found the back of the net in South Africa, I hope he continues to find it here in MLS.  I like it when we see Robbie playing with confidence, but a hunger to do better.  That attitude is what is going to lead RSL back to the promised land of the MLS Cup again.  There are going to be some distractions coming up as Robbie's agent will try to get him to leave for Europe.  I simply ask Robbie to remember the 10th minute of his first match back from the World Cup and know that the fans want him to stay and be part of more championships with us.

For Robbie it is going to be focus and learning to play well with Saborio, the two of them as a tandem could be as lethal as any forwards in MLS.  Yes I think even including Henry and Angel, or Landon and Buddle.  As they play together more, I expect that they will each learn how to help RSL continue to be the most productive offense in Major League Soccer.

Luis Gil

I

I

0 - 0 - 0

There isn't much you can say about Luis, he is working hard in practice and will have to remain focused on learning and getting ready for minutes.  I expect he will see some in the upcoming months. 

He is a young player with a lot of potential, I say some people projecting him for the 2018 US World Cup roster, and those are big shoes to fill.  You have one of the best staffs in MLS to learn from and some great players, work hard and be ready.

Nelson Gonzalez

B-

B

142-0-1

An injury has kept Nelson from getting much playing time lately, but with his loan deal being extended to the end of 2011.  This means we can expect him to get some action this summer in both MLS and CCL matches.  He is an exciting player, it will be interesting to see how he fits in with the rest of the midfield when he gets more minutes.

Nelson is one of those young players who has a ton of talent but has to learn how to be a good team player as well.  He wants to impress people and with his talent he can but with the team style of play for RSL, he will need to work on his defense as well as his offense.

Ned Grabavoy

A-

B+

699-1-0

Just as Ned was recovering from injury, and almost back to 100% he was forced back into action as Kyle went down.  Ned has stepped up in every way to provide RSL with that defensive stopper in the midfield.  How well has he done, well when was the last time someone scored against RSL? 498 minutes ago, and while Ned would never take credit for it, he is part of it.  Many questioned RSL picking him up last year, but not many question that decision any more.

With Kyle getting closer to being able to get back to match fitness, Ned may lose some minutes of playing time in MLS matches but I think that there will be more than enough to go around with everything else going on.  I look forward to seeing Ned be able to play on the wings a bit more and strut his offensive abilities.

Will Johnson

A-

B

1215-1-1

I am a bit surprised that Will didn't get a serious look for the All Star team, while he plays on the wings he has been a defensive and possession machine.  Few players go as hard for a full 90 as Will, and I don't think anyone does it as effectively as he does.  I know with Kyle out that he has worked well with Ned on their defensive efforts and the way they attack 50-50 balls is simply impressive.

Will is another one of those players that I can't offer any type of advice to, his play has been stellar.  Maybe to take a few more shots and create loose balls in the area for our strikers to pounce on.  I love the way Will attacks the ball no matter where the opposing team may be, that type of pressure creates mistakes that RSL can use to their advantage.

Rauwshan McKenzie

I

I

44 - 0 - 0

Our backline has been really healthy and disciplined and that has resulted in very few chances for McKenzie to get minutes.  I do expect with the heavy travel and schedule coming up that we will see Jason use Rauwshan to rest Olave or Borchers.

He is getting a chance to watch and learn from tow of the very best defenders in the league.  Still young, McKenzie will need remain patient about getting playing time.  It will come and he will need to be ready to step in and fill in for some guys that are the tops in the league.

Javier Morales

A-

A-

1039-4-6

A First XI spot for Javier Morales shows that fans, media, coaches and his fellow players know that he is one of the very best in MLS.  He has focused more on production than pretending and it has been nice to see him play through fouls vs. going doing too easily.

Javi has been playing like a man possessed lately and when he plays that way RSL generally controls the pace of matches, and when we do that, well just look at the standings.

Stay focused, stay healthy and play in control.  Help the others around you become better, you have some great young players in Gil, Gonzalez and Warner all who you should be working with to help them become better.

Jamison Olave

A

B

1333-3-0

I do believe this is only the second "A" I have ever given in a report card.  Olave has simply been the best central defender in MLS, his unique combination of size, speed and skill has finally been recognized by people around MLS.  They realize that he is something special and able to do things that most others simply can't do.  His First XI All Star spot is testimony that he is doing the right things.  He has been focused, and has been working off yellow cards by staying out of trouble.  He is a threat in the box on set pieces and has become a fan favorite.

Nothing, please don't change a single thing.  Stay healthy, stay strong and help lead us to Toronto for another Cup.

Robbie Russell

B

B-

1195-1-3

Robbie has become a major part of the defense, and while we will at times rotate the outside backs, Robbie is clearly the first choice in most situations.  Solid on defense, quick to move forward and create chances and solid delivery of the ball into dangerous positions.  It has been good to see Robbie become a larger part of the team, just a bonus to the MLS Cup winning PK last year.

I still want to see Robbie use some caution in how far forward he moves in attack, it will require quick decisions on how far forward to move in the attack as we begin to rotate others into the defense.

Alvaro Saborio

A

A

1107-7-4

From unknown to star in just 3 months of MLS action, Saborio has been player of the week and player of the month.  He leads RSL with 7 goals and that puts him 4th in Major League Soccer.  Size, ability in the air as well as with his feet makes Alvaro a real threat.  Most players take a year or two in order to learn how to play in a new league or with a new team, but Alavro stepped in and was up to speed in weeks instead of months.  His partnership with Fabian while Robbie Findley was with the USMNT at the World Cup was impressive and one can only imagine what the potential could be when all the RSL strikers are working as one.

I said it after just 8 matches and it is even truer today, Saborio is a legit threat to win the MLS Golden Boot.  I have to believe that he will get a call to Houston to be part of the MLS All Star team.  All we can do is watch him adjust to playing with Robbie Findley as RSL may not have the names of other teams, but you have to like the results and potential of our forwards.

Chris Schuler

I

I

0 - 0 - 0

Chris keeps working hard and learning in practice and that has earned him a spot in the 18 man roster for several matches, expect to see him in action soon.

There is much for Chris to learn, and the good thing is that he is learning from some of the very best in MLS, in Borchers and Olave.  I fully expect that with the busy months coming that Chris will get his chance to shine.

Collen Warner

B

B

295-0-0

Injuries have given Collen a chance to get into some matches and while he is still a rookie, he has looked good.  He has good vision and plays with great energy.  It will be interesting to see how he does this summer.

Collen has plenty to learn and if he pays attention to Andy, Will, Kyle and the rest he will do just fine.  He needs to work on adjusting his passing to the speed of the play in MLS, but I have a feeling he will adjust just fine.

Andy Williams

B+

B+

1015-1-3

I joked with Andy during via Twitter during the ESPY's that had he made his PK, he was a clear winner for moment of the year.  He didn't but the reality is that Andy is a hero to many of us fans.  His love of his family is inspirational; his dedication to his team and sport makes it even more amazing.  While I have a couple years on Andy, I hope have half the courage that he has when I grow up.  Thank you Andy for each day reminding me what is important in life.

I keep waiting for Andy to unleash some of his shots from distance, but with such great targets on the roster it is easy to understand why he is choosing to play creator instead of trying to be a scorer.  I think you will see Andy take more shots, as he now knows that RSL has become a team that crashes the area better than ever before.

Chris Wingert

B

B-

905-1-0

I said it would be the year that Chris would find the back of the net in a MLS match and sure enough he did just that.  In addition to his goal, Chris continues to make himself a solid part of what is the hottest team and defense in MLS.  I have been more and more impressed with the way Chris has been moving forward on offense and forcing opposing teams to come out and cover him and that creates space which he can use to get the ball to other players.

Chis just needs to continue working on his passing and crossing of the ball.  He gets into dangerous places and if he can master his delivery of the ball into the area, he will be a great weapon on both offense as well as the solid defender that he already is.

Keepers

Min - GAA - SO

Reason for Grade

To Improve

Kyle Reynish

I

I

0-0-0

It has to be tough, sitting behind one of the hottest keepers in all of MLS.  It has kept Kyle on the bench, and RSL decided just this week to recall Tim Melia from Charleston and replace him with Kyle so he can get some playing time. This is going to be a good thing for Kyle as keepers need to play in order to keep at the top of their game.

Playing time for Kyle will be a good thing, and he will do well in Charleston.  If he takes the chance to polish his skills, then it will be time well spent.

Nick Rimando

A

B+

1350-0.73-7

498 minutes, that is how long it has been since a ball has got past Nick in MLS action.  3 goals in RSL's last 9 matches and his goals against average is 2nd best in all of MLS.  It isn't just what Nick does as a keeper that makes him so valuable, it is the way he organizes and leads the overall defense.  His relationship with the backline is rock solid and his ability to read a game is world class.


  There is nothing Nick can do to improve on his current form, he was player of the month in June and RSL hasn't given up a goal since May.  Stay healthy, stay focused, and stay hungry.

I expect that Nick will be named to the All Star match and don't be surprised that he actually is in goal at the start of the match.

There you have it, if I have it wrong tell me but I think you are looking at the best team in MLS.  We may not have the household names, but when these player work together and fight for each other they are the best team in all of MLS and they proved it last year and are doing so again this year.

OFF MY SOAPBOX