SANDY, UT – What a first leg to the Rocky Mountain Cup! You couldn’t ask for more from our Real Salt Lake players than what they gave you Saturday evening. It was a joint effort where everyone worked hard and the team was the star, that’s the RSL way!
There was a special feeling in the air as RSL took the field Saturday and another Rocky Mountain Cup was at stake. The classic rocky mountain rivalry was once again resumed and you could almost feel the determination in the faces of the players as they shook hands and took their pre-game photos. This wasn’t simply another regular season game for both squads. This game meant more!
The real question was how RSL would respond, after 3 days rest, to what Jason Kreis called “…a disappointing performance” on Wednesday as they barely defeated a winless Montreal Impact by a score of 1-0. However, once kickoff began all of those worries of mine and others were put away. Real Salt Lake came out running and completely dominated the game, playing what some consider their best 45 minutes of soccer in the first half this season. It was classic RSL soccer with lots of possession, ball movement and attack oriented.
Saborio and Espindola combined perfectly as they ran well off of each other and fought for every ball that was sent their way. Those balls were provided by a very aggressive midfield made up of Kyle Beckerman, Sebastian Velasquez, Luis Gil, and Will Johnson. It seemed that anytime RSL would lose possession, we had 2 midfielders double-teaming up to win it back. You gotta love the will to win in those guys.
As far as the scoring is concerned, the 2-0 score does not accurately reflect the domination displayed by Real Salt Lake that night. Saborio put the 1st goal in the back of the net in 20th minute after a great service in from Beltran while Espindola notched another in the second half (57th minute) as he snuck one by the Colorado keeper, Pickens.
Defensively we were solid, allowing only 8 attempts on goal with 1 shot on target. Nick Rimando could have practically taken a nap in goal with the way Olave and Borchers denied any real threat the Rapids could muster. I’m so glad we have those 2 in the back to anchor things down. Complement that with the stellar play from the other 2 defenders, Chris Wingert and Tony Beltran, and you’ve got quite a back line.
For me, Tony was the man of the match. He played phenomenal soccer by not only displaying his defensive strength, but also by making himself an offensive threat, resulting in key service for both of RSL’s goals. Although RSL has some key veterans, Tony is a young talent that is very underrated and a real asset to the squad. Plus, he’s a great guy!
All in all it was another great win for RSL as they move atop the Western Conference standings and look forward to a clash with the undefeated Eastern Conference powerhouse Kansas City next Saturday April 14th. Kickoff is at 6:30 pm MST. In the meantime, chalk up another clean sheet at the fortress known as the RioT and give leg 1 of the Rocky Mountain Cup to the Claret and Cobalt! Goooooooo Real Salt Lake!
See some of my photos from the game here: https://picasaweb.google.com/100525753345694486365/20120407RSLVRapids?authuser=0&authkey=Gv1sRgCOu3jMvxi7qvJw&feat=directlink