It is late and I will put my thoughts together later, but here is the good stuff from the RSL Communications Team:
REAL SALT LAKE ROLLS TO 3-0 WIN OVER SEATTLE IN WEST SEMIFINAL LEG ONE
FW Álvaro Saborío Notches Pair of Tallies, MF Ned Grabavoy Tacks on Late to Give RSL Upper Hand Heading into Wednesday's Second Leg; RSL Allows No Shots on Frame in Stout Defensive Effort, but Sees Center Backs Jamison Olave and Nat Borchers Leave Due to Injuries
SANDY, Utah (Saturday, October 29, 2011) - Real Salt Lake raced out to a huge advantage in its Western Conference Semifinal Series against Seattle Sounders FC, using a pair of goals around halftime by FW Álvaro Saborío and a late tally from MF Ned Grabavoy to post a 3-0 victory in tonight's Leg One contest in front of 17,067 fans at Rio Tinto Stadium. RSL will carry its three-goal cushion in the home-and-away aggregate goals series into the second leg nextWednesday, Nov. 2, when Sounders FC will host the Utah side at CenturyLink Field for a 8:00 p.m. MT kickoff (live on ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes).
With the return of captain MF Kyle Beckerman from suspension, Real Salt Lake Head Coach Jason Kreis was able to field his first-choice line-up for the first time in nearly six months. Instead of unfamiliarity, the group showed their cohesion quickly on both ends of the field, resulting in no shots on frame for Sounders FC on the evening and plenty of attractive, attacking soccer flowing towards the Sounders defensive third. RSL's dangerous moments on offense finally paid off in the 41stminute, when Saborío ran onto DF Chris Wingert's cross from the left flank right on the goalline, ushering RSL to a 1-0 lead heading into the halftime break. The only bad news for RSL in the opening stanza was the loss of DF Jamison Olave, who suffered a right quadriceps strain and had to be removed at the half hour mark in favor of DF Chris Schuler.
Saborío saved his best effort for his second tally in the 54th minute, running onto MF Javier Morales' cross from the right side of the area and using a cheeky flick with his right heel to redirect low past Seattle GK Kasey Keller, pushing the lead to 2-0. With RSL keeping the visitors on their heels thanks to steady possession throughout, the Utahns would push for more, and it was the substitute Grabavoy that would push the scoreboard once again with two minutes left in regulation. After hustling to beat a defender to a poor clearance in the right side of the area, the veteran midfielder fired a shot that glanced off a defender on the goalline and into the back of the net. Much like the first half, the only thing to go wrong for the home side was a left knee strain suffered by RSL's other sturdy center back, Nat Borchers, forcing him from the contest in the 84th minute
more after the jump:
Real Salt Lake Match Notes
- Both of RSL's injured center backs, Nat Borchers and Jamison Olave, will be re-evaluated by the team's medical staff on Sunday, the process including an MRI for Borchers to further diagnosis the severity of his left knee strain.
- The two goals for FW Álvaro Saborío marked the first two MLS Cup Playoff goals for the Costa Rican international after he was shutout in last year's Western Conference Semifinal Series against FC Dallas. The brace was also the first in postseason play for an RSL member in its now 11-match playoff ledger.
- Not to be outdone, MF Javier Morales became the first RSL player to notch a pair of assists in MLS Cup Playoff game, the helpers on both of Saborio's tallies marking his fourth and fifth career playoff assists.
- Collecting his first-ever playoff assist was DF Chris Wingert, whose cross to the doorstep on Saborío's opening salvo gave the eight-year veteran his first helper in now 14 postseason contests.
- MF Ned Grabavoy returned to the scoring column in playoff action for the first time since 2005 with the LA Galaxy (Oct. 29, 2005 @ San Jose), his late strike giving him a second career postseason goal (9 games).
- The three-goal effort for Real Salt Lake tonight tied its largest offensive output in postseason history, even with the three it put up on the Columbus Crew in a 3-2 victory at Crew Stadium on Nov. 5, 2009, in the second leg of their Eastern Conference Semifinal Series (4-2 agg. win in the series).
- On the heels of his MLS-leading 13 regular season shutouts, RSL GK Nick Rimando once again came up with a clean sheet, the ninth in 22 postseason contests for the All-Star netminder.
REAL SALT LAKE 3 : 0 SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 29, 2011
RIO TINTO STADIUM - SANDY, UTAH
Goals by Period 1 2 F
Real Salt Lake 1 2 3
Seattle Sounders FC 0 0 0
RSL -- Alvaro Saborio 1 (Chris Wingert 1, Javier Morales 1) 41
RSL -- Alvaro Saborio 2 (Javier Morales 2) 53
RSL -- Ned Grabavoy 1 (unassisted) 88
RSL -- Fabian Espindola (caution; Reckless Tackle) 30
SEA -- Osvaldo Alonso (caution; Reckless Foul) 54
SEA -- Fredy Montero (caution; Unsporting Behavior) 91+
SEA -- Erik Friberg (caution; Reckless Foul) 93+
Seattle Sounders -- Kasey Keller, James Riley, Jeff Parke, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Leo Gonzalez, Lamar Neagle (Erik Friberg 60), Osvaldo Alonso, Brad Evans, Alvaro Fernandez (Roger Levesque 77), Sammy Ochoa (Mike Fucito 63), Fredy Montero.
Substitutes Not Used: Nate Jaqua, Zach Scott, Tyson Wahl, Bryan Meredith.
Real Salt Lake -- Nick Rimando, Robbie Russell, Jamison Olave (Chris Schuler 32), Nat Borchers (Luis Gil 84), Chris Wingert, Andy Williams, Kyle Beckerman, Javier Morales (Ned Grabavoy 79), Will Johnson, Alvaro Saborio, Fabian Espindola.
Substitutes Not Used: Arturo Alvarez, Paulo Araujo Jr., Collen Warner, Kyle Reynish.
Referee: Mark Geiger
Referee's Assistants: -Joe Fletcher; Steven Taylor
4th Official: Silviu Petrescu
MLS POST-GAME QUOTE SHEET
WESTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINAL SERIES - LEG ONE
REAL SALT LAKE HEAD COACH JASON KREIS
On getting Kyle Beckerman and Javier Morales back on the field at the same time:
"I'd speak more to having everybody on the field at the same time - our strongest lineup. I don't think we've had that ability to pick our absolute strongest lineup since the first leg of the (CONCACAF Champions League) final at Monterrey."
On whether or not Real Salt Lake kept their focus for 90 minutes:
"Yeah, I was very, very pleased. For me that was a complete match, and we haven't had a complete match of good soccer and good focus and the requisite commitment for a very long time."
On coming out with an aggressive mindset early in the match:
"Yeah, and I thought our spirit was really, really high. And I'll tell you what, that's a credit to the crowd. That was the first time in a long time that I can remember at the beginning of the match looking around and saying, ‘the stands are almost full.' Typically we have to wait until close to halftime to get the stands completely full and tonight they were almost full from before the kickoff. So it was a very, very loud start."
REAL SALT LAKE GOALKEEPER NICK RIMANDO
On the defensive effort making his job easier in goal:
"One of our focuses was to keep a zero back there. We knew they had some lethal weapons up top and in the midfield and (we had) to stay compact. When you add a leader like Kyle Beckerman to the lineup it gives us a lot of defensive work, and he covers so much ground. He helped out a bunch, but all in all I think my job was pretty easy tonight because of the guys in front of me keeping it tight, keeping a high line and stepping to the ball."
On the injuries to center backs Nat Borchers and Jamison Olave:
"Hopefully it's nothing too serious with those guys, but again, guys stepped up and we said, ‘You know, the playoffs are when you step up,' and we showed that we have some depth tonight and guys slid over and we got the win tonight."
On taking a 3-0 advantage to Seattle on Wednesday for the second leg:
"Seattle is a tough place to play. You can't be too comfortable with any score. They're still a great team and they'll be better at home, so we have to make sure we do everything right with our bodies, and I'm sure coach will have a game plan for us. 3-0 is a good lead, but I just think we need to continue to play well."
On the mentality that Real Salt Lake had going into the match:
"We looked at some tape and I think everybody got a little bit disappointed from that last-minute goal against Portland, and we wanted to make a 90-plus (minute) effort tonight. We're at home and we feel comfortable at home, and we know we can get our offensive chances if we play good defense."
REAL SALT LAKE MIDFIELDER NED GRABAVOY
On the way the match unfolded for Real Salt Lake:
"It looked good. I obviously had to watch it as a spectator as well the first 60 or 65 minutes. It's such a weird thing, you go into the playoffs and, obviously, we hadn't been doing our best stuff, but we kept telling ourselves if we keep playing and working through it that the soccer's going to show through. It doesn't necessarily surprise me. This is a very veteran group and I thought it would turn around."
On RSL's tactics going into the second half up 1-0:
"To be honest with you, I think we felt pretty comfortable at halftime. We thought the most important thing was making sure we got a zero here on our home field. I think that when we defend well as a team like that, our chances kind of seem to come from that; they kind of come out of nowhere. I don't think it's a situation where we were like, ‘let's throw numbers forward, let's try to get another one.' We were pretty confident that we'd find some chances in the second half by doing the things that we were doing and we did get some chances."
REAL SALT LAKE FORWARD ÁLVARO SABORÍO
On the team's performance:
"I think the team was sharp in all the positions."
On the injuries to Nat Borchers and Jamison Olave
"I hope they get better soon and we have the whole team together again."
SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC HEAD COACH SIGI SCHMID
On the overall play of his team:
"We're lucky we didn't lose 6-0. We were well-served by losing only 3-0. We played not well and I thought Real Salt Lake played very well. It was a bad time for us to choose to have a bad game, and obviously they had a really good game. Hats off to them."
On his team's difficulty on the offensive end:
"We couldn't keep the ball, we couldn't hold on to the ball. Some of that was due to their pressure, but some of it was just our bad passing. That's probably one of the worst games I've seen (Osvaldo) Alonso play in his three years with us, and it just wasn't a good exhibition of soccer from us."
On what his team has to do on Wednesday to be successful:
"We need to score four, it's very simple. We can't allow any goals. There's no secret strategy, everybody has to play better soccer then what they played (tonight), everyone has to put in a better performance. From the coaching staff to the support staff to the players, everyone has to do better than what they did because tonight wasn't good enough."
SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC FORWARD FREDY MONTERO
On the possibility of coming back in the second leg:
"Why not. They won 3-0 nothing, why can't we do the same?"
On what made things difficult tonight:
"We didn't do a good job. We didn't win out duels. We need to play more with the ball."
On why it was so hard to create chances:
"The whole time we were defending so our team was back and we didn't find a way to score goals and keep the ball."
SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC FORWARD MIKE FUCITO
On the 0-3 result:
"We just had to come out better than we did. Those are not goals we want to give up. We created some chances, we just couldn't put them away. Everything from top to bottom can be better. They were more physical; we just need to be tougher all around."
On being three down going into the second leg:
"We dug ourselves into a hole, but if any team can come back I believe it's us. There's still another game to play, so we'll see what happens."
On the mentality and strategy of the team before conceding the third goal:
"For me, as a forward, I wanted to get one back. It goes both ways because you don't want to push too far forward and give up another one, but you want to chip away at the lead."
On the mood in the locker room:
"We have a lot to be upset about, but come tomorrow we've got to put it behind us and do whatever it takes to turn the table the other way."
SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC FORWARD SAMMY OCHOA
On gaining his first career MLS start:
"I was happy to get the start, but we didn't get the win here. We have 90 minutes to go and we have to do the best we can to come out on top."
On what Real Salt Lake did well:
"They did well pressing us and they did well pressuring us. It was hard to get the ball. We have to see the video, see where the mistakes were made and go from there and try to get the win on Wednesday."
There you go all the official goodness to get you going until I can post my match thoughts.
OFF MY SOAPBOX