We've got the penultimate Real Salt Lake reserves game of the season, and, wouldn't you just know it, the penultimate Real Salt Lake reserves game ever today. They'll be facing the creatively named LA Galaxy II (Los Dos, they like to be called, it seems).
FT: Well, um, that was something. Lots of encouraging moments from the academy kids, some solid moments from the first-teamers, and a whole lot of awesome from Justen Glad.
86': Danny Acosta almost chipped Brian Perk. Great vision and all that stuff, but let's also say that the pass in from Justen Glad was fantastic. An easy candidate for an RSL man of the match, Glad.
82': If you thought it looked like one of these teams was playing for something and the other wasn't, you'd be right. That's well-established. It doesn't always make for scintillating viewing, and not because Real Salt Lake is lazy — but because LA Galaxy II are playing a particularly defensive game. Ho-hum.
75': I think Sebastian Velasquez just took a hand to Travis Bowen's face. Not exactly the best idea, kid. He wasn't sent off or anything, so that's good, at least.
74': With the Waldrep move, Sebastian Velasquez has moved up top. That makes something like 18 different attacking midfielders this match has seen. Waldrep's playing deeper in the midfield.
73': Sebastian Saucedo ends his runout, and Evan Waldrep — yeah, another academy kid — comes into the match. This is beginning to look like a 'play-with-the-first-team' academy day. But seriously, the academy kids haven't looked out of place against the actually-professionals LA Galaxy II.
68': It took only 68 minutes for the long-ball-over-the-top strategy to work, but Sebastian Saucedo couldn't get away as magical a chip as he'd have liked. It does look like he's in a free role, but maybe that's just his interpretation of the attacking midfield spot. It's like interpretive dance or something, right?
62': Miles Stray is at right back, while Justen Glad remains at left back. Erik Holt's moved centrally.
59': Who's that? Why, it's Benji Lopez! I don't really know what his loan agreement is, but there's something funny about him playing in USL Pro and against USL Pro. Lopez is on for Jose Hernandez, and Miles Stray is on for Carlos Salcedo, which should be fun — Stray and Glad have a lot of experience together.
57': Commentators complaining about refereeing in a reserve game — er, USL Pro game? Something of both? — and inconsistency is one thing. But when it's really just wide of the mark, I don't know what to really make of it.
54': Aaron Maund has been both good and bad in equal measure today. Being a little error-prone in reserve play isn't the end of the world, and maybe that's down largely to a lack of playing time.
52': If I hear this stupid music and advertisement one more time I'm going to go crazy. You know, like Homer Simpson.
51': Woeful defending as Charlie Rugg gets free again. Aaron Maund decides to head back to Fernandez, but there's no strength in his pass, and Carlos Salcedo could have done better defending him. Luckily, Rugg tries to round Fernandez and fires a shot pretty spectacularly off the mark.
49': That's Miles Stray, an RSL academy kid set to graduate in 2015, at right back.
46': Some player wearing number 46 has come into the match at right back for Real Salt Lake. 45 minutes for Rich Balchan is a vast improvement over his fortunes in the last few months. Seeking confirmation on who this kid is.
HT: Our midfield hasn't really been close to good enough, which has been a point of frustration. I mean, with two academy kids in there, you'd expect them to be the weak links, but it looks more systemic. Cole Grossman has been fine but not great, Sebastian Velasquez has been exciting but lacking the final pass or shot, and Danny Acosta's been a little quiet but at the center of some really good things. Jose Hernandez has perhaps been the best midfielder out there. That's not the first time that's happened.
HT: Is it too early to get a 14 GLAD kit? Does he have to play a first-team game first? These are difficult questions.
43': Justen Glad, left back, has taken more shots than anybody this match. That's a testament to him, but also maybe a slight condemnation of our struggling attack. On the other hand, Sebastian Velasquez has dribbled into the box plenty, so it's not for lack of trying.
35': Real Salt Lake either has two players that are exactly the same person on the sideline, or they didn't bring many different-numbered training kits with them. Two 43s on the sideline. Also, this defense is giving Lalo Fernandez almost as much trouble as the LA Galaxy attack is, which is a little concerning. It's not really an ability problem, but maybe it has something to do with a midfield not built to defend basically anything.
25': Justen Glad has been pretty good on that left side of the defense, pushing forward reasonably well most of the time and spectacularly on others. In fact, that run just a few minutes ago was ages better than almost anything the team has done in the attack, save maybe Devon Sandoval's run down the right side in the box.
21': Charlie Rugg scores a goal after Cole Grossman concedes a free kick in a poor position, and our marking is either bad or nonexistent. It's difficult to say which was the case.
20': It does appear to be attacking-midfield-by-committee tonight, which sometimes works and, well, sometimes doesn't. It's Jose Hernandez taking the top spot most of the time, and he's been playing the part well — but having to drop increasingly deep to pick up possession.
17': Sebastian Velasquez is the longest-tenured RSL player on the field, though perennial third-string Lalo Fernandez has been here just as long. Funny stuff, that. Speaking of Lalo, he did well to put Jack McBean off when one-on-one, which is nice to see.
11': Not a lot of sustained possession in the attacking half from RSL, as basically every defender has looked to launch the ball over the top of the defense once or twice. The midfield's got to be a bit more connective there, and the defense has to recognize that.
9': Sebastian Saucedo, who intiially wore the number 23, is wearing number 50. We suspect that Sebastian Jaime, who will now wear number 23 after his arrival, asked very nicely if he might have the number, and Saucedo agreed. Of course, we have no evidence.
1': Rich Balchan is playing on the right side of defense, while Justen Glad is on the left. That's a little surprising, because we've typically seen Glad on the right, but maybe this is more about getting Glad playing anywhere across the back line — or getting Balchan ready for minutes if needed in that spot.
0': How exactly this midfield shakes out will be interesting — Cole Grossman is obviously the deepest of the four, but will it be a rotational top-of-the-diamond tonight? And what's our strike force going to look like with Devon Sandoval and Sebastian Saucedo? It seems like a good combination on paper.
0': Rich Balchan's back! Why, that's a nice development, isn't it? The academy influence is also strong in this one — Jose Hernandez and Danny Acosta are both starting, and they're academy kids currently, and of course, we also have Lalo Fernandez, Justen Glad, Carlos Salcedo, and Sebastian Saucedo, all with the first team.
#LosDos starting XI: Laurendi; Franco, Nishanian, Diallo, Bli; Stojkov, Jamieson IV, Jose Villarreal, Auras; Rugg, McBean— LA Galaxy II (@LAGalaxyII) August 27, 2014
#RSL reserves at #LosDos, 5p MT kick :: Fernandez; Balchan, Salcedo, Maund, Glad; Grossman, Velasquez, Hernandez, Acosta; Sandoval, Saucedo— Real Salt Lake (@RealSaltLake) August 27, 2014