SANDY, Utah -- Real Salt Lake managed a 2-0 victory against visiting Costa Rican team Puntarenas F.C. in a friendly match at Rio Tinto Stadium on Saturday night.
Javier Morales and Pablo Campos each found the net to lead their team to victory.
Real Salt Lake opened the match with a healthy mix of starters and reserves, and lined up in their typical 4-4-2 diamond formation. Puntarenas, on the other hand, showed a 4-3-3 setup.
In the first half, both teams appeared to lack sharpness and energy, as there were a few missed passes and poorly timed tackles. However it was Real Salt Lake that created all of the chances in the opening stanza, with eight shots to zero for their opponent.
All but one of those shots came from distances of about 20 to 30 yards from goal. The lone exception was a play in which forward Fabian Espindola carried the ball from midfield, using his pace and skill to weave through the defense, but his shot from inside the box didn’t challenge Puntarenas goalkeeper Bryan Zamora.
In the 40th minute, Campos beat his marker and was about to retrieve the ball ahead of the defense just outside of the area when he was pulled to the ground, earning a free kick. Morales then stepped up to that spot and tucked a nifty ball into the upper right corner of the net for the first score on the night.
The second half started out in stark contrast to the first, with both sides playing sharp, lively soccer.
Real Salt Lake had two good chances just four minutes in. First, Alvaro Saborio got his head on a cross about eight yards out, but Puntarenas substitute keeper Olger Ruiz managed to get his legs on it. The rebound found its way to the feet of Ned Grabavoy, whose blast was cleared off the line by a defender.
In the 55th minute, the home side would manage to double their lead off of a nice goal by Campos. Grabavoy sprang Campos down the left side and, as the Ruiz leaned toward the near post, the RSL striker punched the ball with his right foot over the keeper’s shoulder and into the top of the net.
Although Puntarenas threatened at times, they weren’t able to force reserve goalkeeper Kyle Reynish to make any acrobatic saves and managed just a single shot for the entire game.
Real Salt Lake Coach Jason Kreis appeared somewhat disappointed in what his charges were able to accomplish in this friendly match,
“We got the guys out there in a match experience with referees and a crowd, so it was good, but—I’ll leave it at that,” said Kreis. “Evidence would show that they are a team that’s in preseason, and maybe they are in two-a-days, and they also got here late last night.”
Despite the disappointment, he feels that the match ended up being a good tune-up for his side as they look forward to resuming league play on Friday, June 25, against the San Jose Earthquakes.
"There were some other separate goals – getting guys like Jean Alexandre extended minutes; Chris Schuler, getting him some of his first minutes with the first team at center back, and Luis Gil got a little bit of a run," Kreis said. "[But] our biggest goal was to get the guys prepared for next weekend [against San Jose]."
RSL – Javier Morales (unassisted) 41
RSL – Pablo Campos (Ned Grabavoy) 55
Real Salt Lake – Nick Rimando (Kyle Reynish 45); Robbie Russell (Tony Beltran 45), Jamison Olave (Nat Borchers 45), Rauwshan McKenzie (Chris Schuler 45), Chris Wingert (Rauwshan McKenzie 78); Collen Warner (Will Johnson 45), Jean Alexandre (Luis Gil 66), Javier Morales (Andy Williams 45), Ned Grabavoy; Fabian Espíndola (Álvaro Saborío 45), Pablo Campos
Puntarenas F.C. – Brayan Zamora (Olger Ruiz 45); Rafael Nunez, Oscar Duarte, Sherman Vazquez; Daniel Peña (Luis Avila 80), Diego Gallo (Anthony Caruzo 66), Carlos Castro (Ellioth Ferrier 56), Gabriel Masner (Jaison Peña 56); Ariel Santana (Emanuel Campos 63), Josua Diaz (Ricardo Garcia 56), Pedro Leal
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