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.


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