Real Salt Lake will be in Panama tonight taking on Tauro FC in Champions League action, it is a must win match for RSL if they desire to keep their chances at winning Group 2 alive.
The team will be without captain Kyle Beckerman due to red card suspension, as well as without Yordany Alvarez who had travel issues (remember he defected from Cuba, which can cause all kinds of issues). So here is the RSL starting Xi:
Nick Rimando, Tony Beltran, Jamison Olave, Nat Borchers, Chris Wingert, Ned Grabavoy, Jonny Steele, Javier Morales, Will Johnson, Alvaro Saborio, and Fabian Espindola.
The bench for RSL is: Kyle Reynish, Chris Schuler, Kenny Mansally, Sebastian Velasquez, Luis Gil, Emiliano Bonfigli, and Paulo Jr.
The match will kick off at 6:00pm MT and is broadcast on Fox Soccer Channel, you will be able to catch my thoughts and highlights of the match here in this match thread. Feel free to add your comments and thoughts as well.
If you haven't checked out my Match Preview yet, there is still time.
after the jump you will find my in match updates:
Well they are expecting about 1,000 people (but fewer have showed up so far) at the match tonight in Panama, and according to @espn700bill who is on the ground in Panama it is very hot and muggy with a strong chance of rain tonight. Well the teams are taking the pitch and a bit of a surprise as Javier Morales is wearing the armband tonight. Tauro FC is making some changes tonight, 5 according to Dunny who is on the call tonight on Fox Soccer.
Match On, I am hoping we will see RSL come out and put a ton of pressure on Tauro early, we need the win and while in CCL action we often give up the first goal, RSL is a much better team with the lead so an early goal would be very good.
Early on RSL is dominating the possession but as we saw in the first leg against Tauro that possession is nice but we will have to finish our chances, RSL had 19 shots in the first match with Tauro (who had 2). Tauro is finally getting some possession in the RSL half of the pitch but it is broke up by RSL and a long ball for Fabi is just a bit too long and goes to the keeper.
Some pressure from Tauro, but they are unable to get a shot off and Sabo plays a nice ball to Fabi but the Tauro defense is there and it eventually goes out for a RSL throw in. I am hoping that our wide play will be as solid as it was in the first match with Tauro, I thought it was a real advantage for RSL. Beltran gets the ball deep in the Tauro area and plays it back across the goal, but Will Johnson is unable to get it on goal and it eventually goes back to Tauro.
I love Dunny, "Tauro FC is a team that goes down very easily", well a solid tackle in the RSL area as a Tauro attack is broken up and no call from the official, in fact not sure I have heard a single whistle yet in the match. RSL is back on the attack and with numbers going forward, a great ball in for Saborio but nothing comes of it. It looks like Taruo is playing very similar to how they did at Rio Tinto last month, more defending and looking to counter when they can. A lot of pressure from them in the midfield, but so far it is clearly RSL with the edge in possession and chances, but 15 minutes in it is 0-0.
Tauro puts a bunch of bodies in the area any time RSL gets close. RSL still holding an edge in possession but Tauro isn't afraid to pressure the ball in the midfield and are doing a decent job defending with numbers when we move forward with the ball.
RSL again moves forward with the ball but out for a goal kick, another good attacking effort by RSL but the cross again goes a bit long and out for another goal kick. Remember how many chances RSL created in their first match with Tauro, we have to finish these off and get some goals, still think we need to win by at least 2 tonight. A great ball back into the area by Fabi and Sabo's header just goes wide, but that is the type of thing we need to see.
To all of you following along, remember to add your thoughts and comments to the post. Updates about every 10 minutes or when something important happens.
RSL is doing what they need to do, but Tauro is playing more aggressively than they did last month, but unless we can finish one of these chances we are still stuck at 0-0. A good chance but an easy save by the Tauro keeper and then they quickly counter and take a bit of a shot that goes high and wide, out for a RSL goal kick. RSL looking to try and spread Tauro out a bit as the midfield is simply clogged up with bodies, and Tauro make a run into the RSL final third but quickly RSL get the ball back and they are back on the attack until a foul is called against RSL, I think that might be the first foul of the match and we are 27 minutes into the action. Tauro tries to attack but the offside flag goes up. This match is very disorganized so far as neither team is really found a rhythm yet, RSL is still holding the edge in possession and attacking efforts.
30 minutes - halftime
We are still at 0-0, so far the lack of calls either way has really been impressive as it is letting both teams play but still neither side has really pushed the issue with the officials. Another long ball by RSL goes too long and back over to Tauro, who quickly lose it in the midfield.
When Tauro get the ball they are fairly direct in getting their attack going, it appears they are willing to give up possession in order to be able to quickly try to get something going when they get the ball. The RSL defense has been up to the task, but it is keeping our defenders from being able to get forward as much as I think they would like to. A good cross into the danger area by Tauro but Nick gets to it and quickly gets RSL going towards the Tauro half of the pitch but Tauro is applying a lot more pressure as the half progresses.
A good chance for Sabo but it goes right to the keeper and Tauro are now moving forward with some numbers as they look to create some offense for themselves. RSL back on the attack, but Tauro is really stepping up the amount of pressure they are putting on the ball, especially when we get into their half of the pitch. With just 5 minutes left in the first half, I think RSL need to really push hard and try to create a couple more chances before the half is over, and the reality is a draw won't do us any good. Fabi gets clipped from behind, and goes down from the foul and a late yellow card is issued to Tauro FC but the free kick goes back over to Tauro.
A good attack by Tauro and Nick Rimando is forced to make a big save, and for the first time Tauro FC have finally strung together some possession and in the last few minutes have looked more dangerous, I don't expect any stoppage time, or a minute at most.
That is the halftime whistle, with the score a 0-0 but both sides have had a few chances, RSL started strong but Tauro finished the half a lot stronger than they started it. Back in a few minutes with the second half
45- 60 minutes
The second half gets underway as RSL applies some quick pressure, going to have to put it all on the line here, a draw is not going to cut it, got to be a win. A good chance by RSL, and as if there isn't enough drama on the pitch in this match, just crossing twitter and some wire services, AEG is looking to sell some assets including the LA Galaxy.
Well so far the second half looks a lot like the start of the first half as RSL is keeping more possession but Tauro is applying some good pressure. Tauro gets forward but their attempt goes long and out for a goal kick, RSL get the ball into the final third again but each time the ball is cleared out by the Tauro defense.
A good long ball by Tauro, but RSL is able to put it out for a throw in, a bad cross goes back over to RSL who quickly get it over the midfield stripe and now RSL is again trying to keep some possession and get Tauro to come out a bit, a turnover and a shot from Tauro goes wide and out for a RSL goal kick.
A free kick for RSL just inside the Tauro FC half of the pitch and it goes out for a RSL corner kick, could a set piece goal be in order? A good ball into the area, but the header goes just wide of goal, Will Johnson took the corner kick. Tauro FC make the first change of the match, A yellow card for Tauro for not getting out of the way of a RSL free kick, in fact he didn't not move he kicked at the ball, now Javi resets with some bodies forward.
We are 2/3 of the way done with the match and it is still 0-0.
It looks like Luis Gil will be the first sub for RSL, coming on for Jonny Steele. It will be interesting to see if he can bring more offense energy to a RSL side that looks more aggressive in this half. A throw in for Tauro deep in the RSL final third. Oh my a good run, but Sabo's ball is just behind Johnson and it goes back over to Tauro, that was a good looking attack. Long ball but Espindola can't get to it, but RSL keep the ball for a minute and then turn it over. A good ball into the area by Taruo but Olave clears it but Tauro keeps the ball and are looking more dangerous than they have all match, until they turn the ball over but they win it right back, and then RSL gets it. Sabo takes a shot but kicks a Tauro player and gets a yellow card, that means no Sabo for the final CCL group match.
That was the best scoring chance by either side as Gil's shot was saved and Sabo almost got on the rebound, but we are still at 0-0. Tauro makes another change bringing on more offense and quickly look more dangerous but finally cleared to the midfield but Tauro keeps possession. Still thinking RSL need to get Paulo Jr into the match, his pace and energy are just what we need, a draw will do nothing for us, better to lose trying to win than settling for a draw tonight.
A good ball into the area by Fabi, Sabo heads it down to Javi but unable to get a shot on goal, eventually RSL gets a corner kick. Nothing comes of the corner and now a goal kick for Tauro FC, pull Grabovoy and bring in Paulo Jr. for some energy, got to get the win, a draw puts us needing a lot of help that isn't going to come.
Both sides are playing more offense but we are still at 0-0 with 15 minutes to go. I don't think this match ends up 0-0 both teams are getting closer, Tauro just wide with a quality shot that is inches from forcing Nick to make a big save. RSL is bringing on Paulo Jr, but taking Fabi off, that is just a same for same move and I think RSL needed to pull someone else, this doesn't boost our attack much more than fresh legs. Luis Gil fires a shot that goes high and out for a goal kick.
I have to say that Tauro FC is playing a hell of a lot more in this half than they in this match or the first one, which means more pressure on the RSL defense, but also should mean more chances for the offense, but this isn't about chances it is about goals and getting a win. Ball into the Tauro area but again nothing comes of it and a goal kick for Tauro. RSL has played with good urgency but Tauro has answered, now RSL gets a chance but the offside flag goes up as Sabo is called offside and back over to Tauro, but RSL quickly get the ball back.
RSL brings on Sebastian Velasquez for Tony Beltran, finally some more offense on the pitch as Will Johnson will cover a bit more defensively but I expect some energy, but it has to result in a goal. A big shot by Sabo but a save, and Tauro FC counter attack and almost get a goal as Nick can't hold on to the ball but it is cleared out by Will as they dodge the most dangerous bullet of the night.
Tauro back on the attack deep in the RSL half of the pitch,but RSL clear it and Tauro keeps possession of it. Time is running out for RSL, can they find a way to get a goal? Paulo Jr takes a shot but it goes out for a goal kick as the clock keeps ticking. RSL look to organize another attacking run, out for a RSL corner kick, have to believe everyone comes forward for RSL as Will Johnson looks to take it. Wingert gets a head to it and it goes just wide of the far post and Tauro FC counters but Nick cleans it up and RSL will get another chance to attack, a bad turnover in the midfield and Tauro has numbers in the area but they failed to take a shot (incredible). RSL back in possession but a long ball goes to the keeper, but they quickly get it back. The Tauro keeper has come up big again as he punches the ball out and another RSL chance is stopped.
I wonder how much stoppage time we will get? Tauro attack and earn a corner kick, they go short and RSL get possession back as the 4th official shows 3 minutes of stoppage time, RSL has the ball deep in the Tauro half of the pitch, with numbers but a Paulo Jr. turnover and Tauro FC tries to counter as Nick comes way out of goal and has to hurry back to stop a chip shot. RSL get the ball back, with under two minutes to go. and a mistake by the keeper as he takes out Saborio in the area and RSL gets a PK attempt in stoppage time.
Now it is Sabo at the spot, and Sabo converts it and RSL takes a 1-0 lead with just second left in the match. Oh my, that is crazy and now Sabo is off the pitch hurt as the final whistle blows and RSL picks up the 1-0 win. The 3 points are huge, but I hoped for more goals for RSL.
I will be back later with my post match thoughts, thanks for following along. RSL 1-0 over Tauro FC.
OFF MY SOAPBOX