Monday, March 30, 2009

RSL drop opener...again

It wasn't the start that Real Salt Lake wanted, but many may have expected. Heading up against one of the league's hottest teams in the Seattle Sounders FC, and clearly lacking the clinical finishing that RSL head coach Jason Kreis mentioned earlier in the week, Utah's MLS side dropped its season opener to the expansion Sounders 2-0.

The result is something that RSL fans have come to expect, as the team has yet to win on opening day in it's five year history. Some may even be worried by the things they saw on Saturday, but in truth, I'm not terribly worried.

It's no secret that Tony Beltran was a pipe that Steve Zakuani smoked repeatedly, and most especially en route to serving up Seattle's first goal. The lack of goals scored from Salt Lake could be a concern, although we're only looking at one game. The concern will come if the scoreless trend continues, which I don't think it will. Other than that, RSL looked fairly good.

Nearly the entire second half, with the exception of Fredy Montero's break away goal, was spent in and around the Seattle penalty area. The Salt Lake midfield, although not as sharp as we've seen in the past, kept most of the possession. This was in large part due to the efforts of Clint Mathis. He certainly isn't the brash goal-scorer of the past. But, he is a smart player that added a sense of calm for a midfield group that was just a little off on the night.

The few minutes that Raphael Cox played were very encouraged. After replacing Beltran, who slid over to left back in the second half, Cox looked very mobile and served up one of the better crosses of the match. He certainly made a case to see more playing time.

Up next is the home opener against the Columbus Crew on Thursday. RSL needs not only your butt in a seat at Rio Tinto Stadium on Thursday but also your voice to be heard. The match will be televised on ESPN2, and kickoff is set for 7pm local time.


Saturday, March 28, 2009

Watch Parties for RSL-SSFC

Tonight RSL will be taking to the turf of Qwest Field in Seattle to face the extraordinarily popular Seattle Sounders FC. The boys in the radio informed me earlier today that all 27,000 tickets available for the match have been sold. For those of us without a ticket, or transportation to the Emerald City for that matter, we can enjoy the festivities as they will be shown live on KUTV channel 2. Kickoff is set for 8:30pm, with a pregame show airing at 8pm.

Because it's always more fun to watch soccer with a group I wanted to share where you could find the nearest watch party. Go join your fellow RSL supporters at any one of these locations. I promise that it will always be more fun than watching by yourself at home.

These are only the watch parties that I know of. If you know of any other groups getting together to watch RSL this evening please list it in the comments of this post.

Logan - Iggy's Sports Grill. 2271 North Main. No official party has been organized here, but there will be RSL fans, myself included, gathering to watch the game. If you're in Cache Valley come join us!

Clearfield - Stadium Pizza. 540 East 1700 South. This is being advertised by the restaurant and endorced by the team. In other words, you should have no problems making sure the game will be shown.

Salt Lake City - Lumpy's. 3000 Highland Drive. It was mentioned in the comments of the link above. Much like the gathering in Logan, this looks to be very informal. Although, I'm told it's a great place to watch a match.

West Jordan - Salsa Leedos. 9155 Redwood Rd. The Loyalists, one of the RSL supporters gropus, will be gathering here. They advertise the event as family-friendly.

Those are the locations and gatherings that I know of. Please fill us in if you know of any other groups getting together, or locations that will be showing the game.

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Rio Tinto Stadium Print Opens Desert Crown Store

I wanted to announce the opening of the Desert Crown Store!

From time to time I get an idea of something I would like to see offered to soccer fans in the marketplace. As a lifelong fan of the game these are usually always things I would like.

Rather then sit by and let these ideas pass through my brain untested I decided to open up a store to see if other soccer fans felt the same way about those ideas. For my first item I'm offering a print of a photo I captured following the inaugural game at Rio Tinto Stadium. I call the piece "Opening Night Afterglow" in reference to the secondary lighting that is reflecting off the roof. It's the very same image that adorns the layout of this blog, and it looks great hanging in a frame.

Initially, I'm offering the print in two sizes: 8x10 and 11x14. If you would like other sizes please let me know. Also, please feel free to leave your feedback about my little experiment in the comments. Is there anything you would like to see? In the coming weeks I should be releasing a few more items, but I'm always open to suggestions.


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Larkin Makes LA Sol Roster!

As the dust cleared from a competitive Womens Professional Soccer preseason the only Utahn reaming on a WPS roster was former Alta HS and BYU product Katie Larkin, after all seven teams released their Opening Day rosters on Wednesday.

Larkin will be playing along side one of the league's highest profile players in Marta, and for one of the highest profile teams in the Los Angeles Sol.

This years casualties of the roster trimmings are former Alta HS standout Allison Martino, released by the Boston Breakers, and Brighton HS alum Liz Bogus let go by FC Gold Pride.

The WPS allows each team 18 players to fill a roster. In addition to the final 18, each team can carry four players as "developmental" players rounding out the rosters to a full 22.

(photo courtesy of Celtic Storm)

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Utahns in the Pros Update

There were some highs and some lows for Utah-based players in the professional ranks this week. Among the highlights are the performances of Katie Larkin and Liz Bogus who each scored for their respective teams in preseason Womens Professional Soccer league action. A downer piece of news is that Kyle Christensen seems to have fallen off of the Chivas USA roster as the Major League Soccer season gets under way.

Following is a status report on each of the Utah-based professional players of whom we are aware. If you know of any other players with ties to the state please let us know so that that we can keep tabs on the local talent.


Justin Braun (Skyline HS) - Started and went the full 90 minutes for Chivas USA in their 2-1 win over Colorado in Carson, CA on Saturday.

Kyle Christensen (Layton HS) - Although there has been no official announcement, it appears that Christensen did not make the final Chivas roster for this season. Over on BigSoccer it is reported that he has returned to Denver to finish school.


Katie Larkin (Alta HS, BYU) - The Los Angeles Sol took on FC Gold Pride, that's the San Francisco Bay Area WPS team for those not aware. Larkin started in both matches, scoringing in the 35th minute of the first game in the series.

Liz Bogus (Brighton HS) - Scored a goal for FC Gold Pride in their preseason tuneup with The Bay Area Select All-Stars.

Allison Martino (Alta HS) - Made the first cut for the Boston Breakers preseason 25-player roster. The final roster should be announced any day now.

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Friday, March 20, 2009

Heads Up on the Austin Aztex FC

For their final tuneup before heading into the regular season Real Salt Lake are facing USL-1's newest team, the Austin Aztex.

As most of the readers of this blog most likely have a pretty good feeling of what to expect from Salt Lake on Saturday, this article will shed a bit of light on the opponent.

The Aztex join the USL system as an affiliate of Stoke City of the Premier League. Although a second division side, the Aztex have played three other MLS teams in preparations for the USL season that starts in a a couple weeks. After loosing to the Red Bulls 2-0, and getting tied up with the Houston Dynamo 2-2, the Aztex are coming to Rio Tinto Stadium following a 1-0 win over MLS Cup Champion Columbus Crew last week.

One member of the Aztex roster may look familiar to the RSL faithful. Kyle Brown, who spent the 2007 season on the RSL roster, is one of Austin's strikers.

Austin appears to be a formidable opponent for the Rio Tinto Stadium open house on Saturday. Among the other festivities the match kicks off at 1pm.

See you all there!


Monday, March 09, 2009

Three Utah Teams in U.S. Open Cup Action

Utah has three clubs competing in this year's Lamar Hunt US Open Cup qualifying round. Real Salt Lake will face the newly expanded Seattle Sounders FC, while the Ogden Outlaws and BYU Cougars of the Premier Development League will each play four matches as part of the PDL Western Conference. These are regularly scheduled league matches for the PDL sides, so the results will count in the PDL standings as well as for Open Cup qualifying.

BYU's road to the Open Cup looks like this:

May 9 BYU Cougars @ Lancaster Rattlers 9:00 PM
May 16 BYU Cougars @ Los Angeles Legends 10:00 PM
May 21 Ventura County Fusion @ BYU Cougars 9:30 PM
May 23 San Fernando Valley Quakes @ BYU Cougars 9:30 PM

Ogden's like so:

May 16 Ogden Outlaws @ Southern California Seahorses 10:00 PM
May 17 Ogden Outlaws @ Orange County Blue Star 8:00 PM
May 23 Ventura County Fusion @ Ogden Outlaws 8:00 PM
May 22 San Fernando Valley Quakes @ Ogden Outlaws 8:00 PM

Simply qualifying for Open Cup play is an accomplishment for PDL teams. As the top two teams in the Western Conference in 2006, both Ogden and BYU made their US Open Cup debut. The Outlaws headed west to face the Sonoma County Sol, and amateur team in the US Adult Soccer Association. After battling to a 1-1 draw in regulation, the Outlaws were beaten 6-5 on penalties. The Cougars didn't faire quite so well against the Arizona Sauharos, also from the USASA. The Arizona club took full advantage of their home field ands shellacked BYU 5-1.

BYU qualified for the tournament in 2007, hosting the California Victory of USL-1 at South Field in Provo. The Cougars fought hard, but lost the match 2-1.

Real Salt Lake has done slightly better in Open Cup play than it's PDL brothers. In the last four years RSL has qualified twice, and advanced to the next round only once. All MLS teams who qualify for the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup enter in the third round. This usually pits an MLS team against a team from one of the USL divisions. In 2005 the Claret-and-Cobalt took the Minnesota Thunder (USL-1) into overtime before getting beaten 6-4. Despite the loss, Jason Kreis scored a hat-trick in the game. This was also the match where RSL found Melvin Tarley whose brace (2 goals) for the Thunder was so impressive that he was invited to join RSL for the remainder of the 2005 season.

The following year was the most fruitful for Salt Lake in Open Cup action. It was the only year where they advanced beyond the third round. A 2-1 victory over the Virginia Beach Mariners (USL-1) at Rice-Eccles Stadium was enough for RSL to move on and host a fourth round match against the Colorado Rapids. But, that's as far as Salt Lake would climb in the bracket as they lost to their bitter rivals 1-0.

For the next two years RSL couldn't progress past qualifying. Both years looked promising, each opening with a win at home. But, when they went on the road for the second match, Salt Lake couldn't get it together.

In 2007, Andy Williams scored 19 minutes into extra time to help RSL down the Kansas City Wizards 2-1. Salt Lake went to loose to the Rapids by the same score in the following play-in game. Then, in 2008, RSL opened qualification with a 4-0 rout of the San Jose Earthquakes in the middle of a snow storm at Rice-Eccles Stadium. The win moved RSL on to Columbus where they lost to the Crew 2-0.

RSL's match with the Sounders FC will be played at the Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila, WA, Tuesday, April 28. Kickoff is set for 7pm local time (8pm MT). The winner will go on to play the winner of the LA Galaxy/Colorado Rapids match on April 4.

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Monday, March 02, 2009

Free RSL Exhibition at Rio Tinto

Mark your calendars! Real Salt Lake is offering a free sample of this year's squad on Saturday, March 21. The Claret-and-Cobalt will be taking to the pitch at Rio Tinto Stadium in their last preseason match before their Major League Soccer schedule kicks off the following week in Seattle.

Who RSL will be hosting on the 21st is not yet known. What is known is that the match will be open to the public, free of charge. Admittance will be at a first come first serve basis. Kickoff is set for 1pm, with the gates opening two hours prior.

Rumor has it, the opponent will be from USL-1. Or, in other words, it will be a team that doesn't normally play in Utah. It should make for a great afternoon of FREE professional soccer!