Thursday, August 17, 2006

RSL in the midst of a real winning streak!

The game that took place in Columbus on Wednesday night looked very familiar. A situation where a team hasn't been able to catch a break in just under a dozen games gets an early goal at home and take the game to their visitors. The effort is valiant, but the end result is cruel. With two second half goals - one in the 90th minute - the home team collapses in disbelief as another match slipped out of their grasp.

The only difference between what happened at Crew stadium and the past is that RSL were the victors. With the 2-1 win over Columbus Salt Lake has an honest to goodness winning streak. For the last three league matches RSL have received the maximum points - good enough for the RSL history books as the longest winning streak.

Just over a month ago RSL pulled off an unlikely 3-1 pounding of the Revolution at Gillete Stadium. Since that game Salt Lake have only lost one league match, a 1-0 heartbreaker given by FCD on an Abe Thompson goal in the 93rd minute. The next result was the Chivas debacle when six goals were scored - four of which were Goal of the Week candidates - and Claudio Suarez snatched the draw with a goal in the 94th minute.

Every game since (three in total) has seen RSL finish on top. It's a good trend that's coming at perfect time for a push to the playoffs. Our only problems are the two teams we're trying to catch: Chivas USA and the Colorado Rapids.

Ironically, it looks to be more realistic to catch up to our Rocky Mountain rivals than our expansion brethren. Chivas have yet to lose since a 3-1 loss to the Dynamo on July 8th. Since then they have tied four straight, and squeaked out a 2-1 win over the Fire at Toyota Park last week.

In that same amount of time the Rapids have lost three, won two, and tied once. Through out their entire 2006 campaign the Rapids have yet to string two consecutive wins together. Their inconsistency and recent trend of loosing badly of late makes them appear as an easier target, although they have one point over the Goats. All of this assumes that the Galaxy can't get their act together, which is historically not the case. The season for LA starts in August.


I don't know how long this has been the case, but has started using RSS feeds on their news headlines. I'd like to think my letter was the one that swayed them to do this, but I'm sure many of the other soccer bloggers requested it as well.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Circus Real: Madrid and Salt Lake Meet

The circus that embodies one the largest and most well known brands in world football stopped in Salt Lake City this week. Above all else I was looking forward to the event. The large crowd, the mainstream media coverage, and the electricity that comes with the combination of the two.

Madrid came and did their part, but except for a few flashes of brilliance the Galacticos did not impress.

The first half from Madrid was rather dull. Whether they were tentative due to their concern with the newly rolled in grass, or they just start slow they didn't impress me.

Real Salt Lake took the game at their foreign guests, but could not produce anything terribly dangerous. Although, Salt Lake did get the first shot on goal.

The crowd began very much in support of the team in white, but as RSL began dispossessing and beating Madrid defenders on the dribble the support from the fans slowly switched toward the Red and Blue.

I was moving around a lot during the opening half. Because of this I saw different parts from various angles. By the time Cassanno went down in the box I was on the far end and was convinced that the Italian went swimming.

I was later told by others who had a better angle that Willis Forko pulled him down.

Ruud stepped up and easily buried his chance from the spot.

The second half brought in various Madrid stars, including Robinho, Baptista, and his Beckhamness. David brought an excitement to the crowd that convinced me of one thing. The majority of the 45,511 paid to see the Fifth Spice.

Bringing on Robinho immediately improved the look of Madrid's play. The Galactico's were much more potent and creative when going through their little Brazilian. Robinho was the highlight of the game; he saved Mardrid from playing dull and boring.

RSL held their own until Atiba Harris' reckless challenge. In all too typical fashion, Atiba Harris put RSL at a disadvantage by going in recklessly on Sergio Ramos. Harris completely took Ramos' leg out. The referee reached in his pocket with no hesitation and showed the rookie striker a straight red.

Cameras flashed in constant motion all over Rice-Eccles following Beckham around the pitch. You didn't even need to watch the flow of the game as the tide of flashing lights followed the Madrid midfielder where ever he went. It almost looked choreographed.

The beauty of what is known as Real Madrid, and the other thing that everybody else came to see, manifested itself in the 65th minute. My eyes were watching van Nistelrooy pace side to side weaving just behind the RSL backline. He then cut into an onside position to sublimely let the ball pass through his legs and back heeled a perfect touch to a rushing Robinho.

Robinho carried under extreme pressure before letting a precisely executed shot stream past Nolly and into the side netting.

Our boys did well, overall. They did not back down - especially the outside backs: Kevin Novak and Willis Forko - and they played their game. Cannovaro is a vital addition to the Madrid defense. He will certainly help them not loose so many games (ie Champions League).

Now that all the play and excitement are over it's back to reality. Salt Lake travels to Columbus on Wednesday. Every game at this point is a must win.

RSL then hits the road to take on a very good Houston Dynamo this Saturday. Wait, no they don't. That game's at home, it's me that is hitting the road. I will be missing it in order to be with family back in the midwest. It took me nearly two full seasons to miss a home match - this Saturday will be the first.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

"No TV, No Beer, Make Homer something-something..."

Commenting on a game I did not see is, shall we say, like trying to grab something out of the closet in the room where my six-month old is sleeping without making a noise. It can be done, but takes serious concentration.

But, in actuality I have very little to say except to point out the records that were made. First, it was the first time Real Salt Lake netted four goals in a single league game. Thanks to an unassisted strike from Chris Brown in the 94th minute! Atta boy, Brownie.

Jeff Cunningham bagged a pair, including one from the spot, to give him a grand total of 13 goals on the season. The brace helped Cunningham leap-frog Ante Razov as the top scorer in the league.

The Galaxy also won tonight, beating the Dynamo on a Santino Quaranta goal. That keeps RSL and LA tied for points at 23 a piece. RSL leads due to a -1 goal differential compared to the Gals -7. Both clubs are now only four points behind fourth place Chivas who sit in the final playoff spot in the West.

Here's a cool thing I found this week. Someone came up with the idea to organize a sports wiki called ArmChairGM. It's pretty cool. I started putting the RSL info in, but anyone else can edit it at any time. Feel free to contribute.