In the MLS All-Star game on Wednesday night, all three eligible Real Salt Lake players – Jamison Olave, Nick Rimando and Javier Morales (Kyle Beckerman, the fourth RSL selection, was replaced on squad due to injury) – chosen to represent the league saw valuable time in an entertaining 5-2 loss to EPL powerhouse Manchester United.
While Morales was involved in some of the finer points of play for the All-Stars, he was subbed out just a minute before the MLS side broke through on the scoring column. Rimando and Olave, on the other hand, were involved in some of the low points in the action for the MLS All-Stars. Though neither performed poorly, due to their defensive roles, they were often around when things went wrong.
Just over twenty seconds into the match, Olave, who played the entire first half, had to deal with a misplayed pass to him in his central defender spot. Man. United’s Federico Macheda pounced quickly on the errant pass and easily sidestepped Olave’s sliding tackle to go on to score the opening goal. Although the play wasn’t Olave’s fault, it was clearly not the bright start that he surely hoped for.
Olave exited the game at the half, with the All-Stars down by a 2-0 margin. As he left the pitch, Rimando made his way into the game. The ‘keeper, however, would face similarly disappointing results.
Rimando would end up giving up three goals on the night, but in his defense, he had little chance to stop any of the superbly executed shots from the All-Stars’ EPL opponent. The first was a well struck free kick that went over the wall and dipped down into Rimando’s right upper corner; the second, a point blank blast after a tremendous bit of technical skill; and the final goal came as Javier “Chicharito” Hernández got beyond the overextended All-Star defense to score his first tally in his debut as a Red Devil.
Rimando felt that the circumstances of being an All-Star match, and the two very different team profiles led to the lopsided result.
“It’s tough in these games, as you get thrown together and in two days you have to be a team. They’ve been together for a while in training and we came together in two days,” said Rimando. “As a goalkeeper and defender, you know there is going to be a lot of pressure on you, and that’s exactly what happened tonight.”
Morales ended up playing 63 minutes on the night. At times, it appeared that he and fellow Argentine midfielder Guillermo Barros Schelotto were on the same page but, in many cases, their lack of familiarity shone through. Morales was a positive factor in frequently trying to spring his teammates through into the final third, but the opponent had an answer on every occasion.
Perhaps Morales’ finest moments came in the second half, when he took over the free kick duties after Schelotto and Juan Pablo Angel were replaced at the break. The RSL midfielder delivered in several wonderful balls into the box, and though the All-Stars were able to make some contact on many those deliveries, they weren’t able to put any of them away.
For all three players, the result was hard to swallow. But, according to Rimando, to have an experience like that against a team of the stature of Manchester United, was worth it.
“To be out there with those guys and to play against them and see why they’re one of the best teams in the world is an honor,” said the RSL goalie. “Unfortunately, the result didn’t go our way. We’re all professionals and we went out there to win the game, but they were the better team.”