So I have waited, I have debated with myself if I should post anything about the RSL vs. AU match last Wednesday. I am honestly embarrassed for Arabe Unido and the entire Panamanian league, I thought their clear display of poor sportsmanship and grandstanding was awful and I have to hope that the CONCACAF officials in attendance will be taking some type of action. To hear that their disgraceful behavior continued after the match as they did everything short of physical vandalism of the facilities at Rio Tinto, simply makes me wonder exactly what constitutes a Champion in Panama.
If teams can't compete fairly and with some level of professionalism, then CONCACAF owes all that nations that will follow the rules to do something about the behavior of Arabe Unido. It is too late to replace them in the tournament, it would be unfair to the other teams in the tournament to simply disqualify them and remove the from the group. I would think some kind of fine for their team, and their coach would be the minimum action that should be taken by CONCACAF. Instead they will do nothing and you can almost bet that as Toronto, and then later RSL head to Panama that the behavior of the team will echoed by their fans, I hope not but I would caution any MLS team that has to face them to ensure they have a little extra security, and that the officials would pay very close attention to the action both on and off the pitch.
There is little that I can say about the match that wouldn't be tainted by the way the players of Arabe Unido played in the second half, I have watched thousands of matches live and on TV and never once have I seem that type of behavior. Maybe you can account a couple players going down in the second half due to the affects of the elevation, but for there to be 8 players carried from the pitch on stretchers (and each of them got back up and ready to come back in within a minute). Well it is clear that it was a deliberate attempt to kill time, to disrupt the flow of the match, and to try to steal a result. I can't tell you how happy I am that RSL was able to finally get a second goal to secure the win.
The 26 to 5 shot advantage, the 9 to 2 shots on goal advantage, the 10 to 0 corner kick advantage that RSL held explained what really happened during the match, the shame is that those numbers hide the great goal that Armando Cooper scored early in the match. It is a shame that the officials carded Andy Williams for having to take matters into his own hands after the officials did nothing when he got hit in the back of the head by a AU player. I understand that it would be hard for an official to issue a card to a player who may be injured, but clearly after the multitude of players needing to be stretchered off the pitch that the official could have easily made them wait a minimum time before allowing them to re-enter the match. In fact Paul Ward should have told the AU bench that he would do that after the 3rd player in 5 minutes to laydown on no or minimal contact and need medical attention.
OK enough from me, after the jump is RSL's head coach Jason Kreis and his post match comments:
A couple players offered their thoughts after the match as well:
REAL SALT LAKE GOALKEEPER NICK RIMANDO
Overall thoughts on the match:
"I have seen wasting time, but nothing like that. It's kind of entertaining, and, at the same time, it's frustrating. When an away team comes in and they see that they can get a point [on the road], they are going to take as much time as they want. It was kind of sad to see, but at the same time we got the three points at the end of the day and that's what we are happy with."
On FW Alvaro Saborio's crucial penalty kick conversion:
"'Sabo' stepped forward and that showed his level of confidence. He had a goal earlier in the game and it's his job to score goals."
REAL SALT LAKE MIDFIELDER JAVIER MORALES
On getting the result in tonight's opener:
"We won the game, but we still have five games left to play. And I think [to continue in the tournament] we have to play better than we did tonight."
On Arabe Unido's tactics this evening:
"I have played professional soccer for 10 years and I have never seen anything like that. I hope we don't see that again, but, if we do, we will know how to play against it."
It will be very interesting to see how Toronto FC is welcomed as they head to Panama to face Arabe Unido Tuesday evening, check out the match at 6pm MT on Fox Soccer Channel.
OFF MY SOPABOX