REAL SALT LAKE MOVES ATOP SUPPORTERS SHIELD RACE WITH 2-1 WIN OVER NEW ENGLAND
Goals by DF Nat Borchers and FW Álvaro Saborío – Both off Javi Morales Set Pieces for Headers –
Lead RSL to Sole Possession of First Place in MLS for First Time Ever
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (Saturday, Oct. 2, 2010) – Completing an arduous stretch this week that saw the defending MLS Cup Champions clinch both an MLS postseason berth and a quarterfinal slot in CONCACAF Champions League, Real Salt Lake (14-4-9, 51 points) was able to defeat New England Revolution Saturday with a 2-1 victory at Gillette Stadium that gave RSL a two-point lead atop the Major League Soccer standings, pending Sunday’s result between Los Angeles and Chivas USA.
Since August 7, RSL has played 14 games in 56 days, criss-crossing the continent to the tune of nearly 22,000 miles in the two concurrent competitions. Despite the travel and resultant fatigue, Head Coach Jason Kreis’ team has compiled a 7-1-6 record, one which includes an unprecedented four consecutive results on the road, and a 4-0-2 mark in the six games played in the last 18 days. Fourteen different players have scored in 2010 for RSL, while 23 different players have started at least one game.
Veteran DF Nat Borchers, whose goal at the death (93+) last week against Colorado saved Real Salt Lake’s home unbeaten streak and broke a 41-game run without scoring, once again utilized a backwards header, this time off a Javier Morales set piece to give RSL a 1-0 lead in the 68th minute. New England tied it up in the 82nd minute when a hard Kheli Dube shot spun in after a fantastic Nick Rimando save, but a goal by Costa Rican FW Álvaro Saborío off a Morales corner kick – Saborio’s team-leading 10th of the season, albeit his first of the year away from Rio Tinto Stadium – in the 84th minute allowed RSL to extend its current road unbeaten streak to five MLS games, after never before winning more than back-to-back away matches in the team’s six-year history.
Saborio’s game-winning goal was his fifth in 22 MLS games with the team, moving into a tie with fellow FW Fabian Espindola for third place in all-time team annals in the category, two behind Morales (7 game-winning goals) and Robbie Findley (9 GWGs). In addition to his 10 MLS goals this year, Saborio ranks second among CONCACAF scoring leaders with six goals in five games.
RSL, the highest-scoring team in MLS this season and tied with Cruz Azul for the most potent offense in the current CONCACAF group stage, also boasts the stingiest defense in MLS, as Dube’s goal was the first allowed by Rimando after a 511-minute shutout run.
RSL can now focus on preparing for the postseason with a trio of difficult regular season games against Cup contenders, visiting New York one week from tonight in RSL’s first-ever visit to Red Bull Arena, followed by a home game against FC Dallas on Oct. 16 and the Rocky Mountain Cup decider on Oct. 23. RSL also hosts Mexican power Cruz Azul on Oct. 19 at Rio Tinto Stadium in a game that will determine the Group A winner.
Real Salt Lake Match Notes
· With tonight’s victory, Real Salt Lake moves into sole possession of first place in the entire Major League Soccer table for the first time in the organization’s 6-year history … Back in the last two weeks of July, 2008, Jason Kreis’ team occupied the top spot in the Western Conference before being overtaken by the Houston Dynamo … Earlier this year, RSL had two stints where it was tied with Los Angeles for 24 hours or less …
· In the team’s 14-game, 56-day gauntlet of MLS and CONCACAF games between August 7 and October 2, RSL traveled nearly 22,000 miles across the continent, including two trips to Toronto and a midweek jaunt to Panama … Between the two competitions, RSL posted a 7-1-6 mark and outscored opponents 23-13, the lone loss coming in Mexico City to Cruz Azul, and earned points in six of the seven road matches … With six games in the last 18 days, RSL posted a 4-0-2 mark, with a 12-6 advantage in aggregate …
· RSL improves to 4-4-5 on the road in 2010, its 17 points earned with two away games remaining surpassing the team’s 4-9-3 (15 points) standard set back in 2006 … With tonight’s road win, the fourth of the season, also placed the team’s road goal differential at +1, positive territory for the first time ever …
· Pending Sunday’s game at The Home Depot Center between the Los Angeles Galaxy (15-6-5, 50 pts, West #2) and Chivas USA (7-14-4, 25 pts, West #8), next week’s Real Salt Lake at New York Red Bulls (14-8-5, 47 pts, East #1) at Red Bull Arena (Telefutura, 2:00 p.m. MT) will have massive top-of-the-table implications for the MLS Cup Playoffs, which begin on Oct. 29 …
REAL SALT LAKE HEAD COACH JASON KREIS
gigantic that we could get a hard-fought three points at the end of this
difficult stretch. I was really concerned that the guys wouldn’t have enough
energy to get the result tonight. But credit to our guys again; they responded
fantastically well, they reacted fantastically well to playing on Tuesday in
what was a very emotional match, and tonight - to allow the goal late,
they responded great to that too. So, really, really pleased.
“I’ve been wanting for a long time there to be more than a few dangerous players on the attacking set pieces. And now you add up (Jamison) Olave, [Alvaro Saborio], (Nat) Borchers, and throw in a couple of (Kyle) Beckerman goals from dead ball situations – it’s a nice problem, for sure.
“I just told (Javier Morales) yesterday that we’d start him and really my thinking was just to try to get him match fitness. As long as he could push it about 60 or 65 minutes, I checked with him and he was doing great. He never showed any signs of fatigue; his work rate tonight was really, really fantastic … such an important player for us. Not only in his assists, but also just so many fantastic touches that he has up there that maintain possession for our team.
“I think it was a fatigue thing. I think it was we got out to really quite a slow start. I think we were just lethargic in our game and because of that, it meant that we spent a lot of time in our half of the field. But you look at it a couple of ways – I think sometimes it’s a good thing because it really woke us up when they had quite a few good chances on our goal and there were some other things I think emotionally in the first 15 minutes that really got us going, so I was pleased.
The second half was much better. I think it almost started right off the kick off. So I was pleased. At the end of it all, you want the result, for sure. You want the three points, but I also want there to be some good soccer. I want there to be some indication that we’re trying to play the way that we play, but I think it’s always a difficult prospect when you play on turf.”
REAL SALT LAKE GOALKEEPER NICK RIMANDO
“We knew it was going to be a battle. They’re playing for jobs next year and obviously we want to continue to be consistent going into the playoffs. We came out and we tried to play the way we play, but they did well the first half. They pressured us, they made us kick the ball away, and we couldn’t really find our game or our rhythm. The second half we went out there, with the same kind of rhythm, but I felt like they wanted to press a little higher and we broke their pressure and got a couple of goals
“We knew that it wasn’t pretty. We’re not used to playing on turf, so it wasn’t going to be a pretty game. Usually we pass the ball, we get a rhythm going, and we just had it out there that it wasn’t going to be one of those games. It was going to be a battle: a dirty game and an ugly game, and the team that fights the hardest was going to win.
“I think we fought hard today. We were up for the challenge and we came out in the second half. Even in the first half we really didn’t give any good chances away, but in the second half, they had a lot more. But that’s from trying to go forward, trying to get the win, and we did that. When you go forward, you’re going to let up chances in the back. I think we took care of those, and unfortunately for one goal. All in all I think we wanted the three points coming in, even if it worth giving a goal up.
“We know that when we have to go on the road in the playoffs that we can win. It’s a confidence boost for sure. We’re headed to New York next week, and if we can play the same way - battle the same way and play a little bit prettier - I think we’ll have a better outcome than we did today.”
REAL SALT LAKE DEFENDER NAT BORCHERS
“It feels great, obviously. It’s for what, another 24 hours, maybe? We’ll see what happens tomorrow, but I think it’s fantastic for the group and we got another result on the road. We’ve been talking about getting results on the road, and tonight we wanted to get three points.
“It was a great ball by Javy (Morales) and kind of no-man’s land for a keeper. If he comes out, it’s definitely in and if he doesn’t come out, he doesn’t have a chance to maybe make a reaction save. So again, all credit goes to Javy (Morales).
“I woke up this morning and said, “Well, I got my goal for the season,” and I didn’t think I was going to get a second one, not so soon. So again, credit to Javy (Morales) and my teammates. It was a great ball in a dangerous spot and I put it away.
“The biggest thing for us was we didn’t keep possession, and when we lost possession, we were out of shape. They found a lot of space behind us when we lost the ball, and that’s what happens. Second half, we were a lot better with the ball, and we wanted to close the game out. But definitely after we got scored on, we were able to even it out right away.”
NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION HEAD COACH STEVE NICOL
I think the game typifies the season. As far as the goals we lost, they’re terrible goals. Salt Lake’s a good team, but I thought we were better than them tonight. Just in that final third, we didn’t quite produce that extra bit of whatever to take advantage of the changes we had ... we’re just shooting ourselves in the foot. But I guess the positive side is that we passed the ball really well at times tonight. But we’re disappointed. There’s no way we should have lost that game tonight.
Everybody was on the same page. Something we’ve bene trying to do consistently, and we haven’t done it. But tonight we did do it, and I think you saw what we’re capable of, but I think certainly in the final third we let ourselves down a bit with the final ball. But it’s disappointing. They’re a good team; they pass the ball well at times. But I think we were just as good as them tonight, so to lose the game – we just didn’t deserve to lose the game.
It’s got snow on it when it comes down. We didn’t deal with it properly. They’re both basic error goals. You go down to the park on a Sunday morning and you shouldn’t see two goals like that on a professional football field. That’s where we let ourselves down. The rest of the game – no complaints from me at all. I thought we were committed, I thought we passed the ball well at times. We didn’t have that final pass to take advantage of all that good play. But the goals are basic errors that kinda stung us most of the season.
All of we have to do is to try and replicate it, whether it’s home or whether it’s away. Again, it’s hard to be positive because of the way we played because we lost the game. But we should take that from the game. We’re just disappointed.
I think the one thing we’ve shown over the last three or four weeks is that they’ve been committed and been up for the games. You look at Philly … you look at Dallas, you look at Columbus, you look at tonight – realistically we could have won all those games without the basic errors we made. So the guys have been up for games. We’ve just lacked that quality in the attacking third, and we’ve made too many basic errors in the defensive third.
NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION MIDFIELDER SHALRIE JOSEPH
Especially in the first half, we passed the ball well, moving off the ball well – doing the things we’re supposed to be doing, especially against a team like Salt Lake. In the second half, we just went away from it a little bit. We lost our discipline, we lost our shape and then something on a set piece – we gave away two set pieces goals. That’s stuff you don’t do if you want to be one of the better teams in the league. You don’t give away goals on set pieces like that. It comes down to just a difference. We weren’t good enough tonight, again.
You can take some positives, but at the end of the day, we lost 2-1. It shows that our maturity on the field that we can’t concentrate for 90 minutes. We start doing stuff that we’re not supposed. When we start doing that, we lose focus, we lose concentration and we start losing games. That’s what’s going to happen.
I think we played well throughout the season. It’s just a matter of putting a whole game together and that’s what we can’t do, whether it be our maturity or that we’re just not good enough. We can’t put together 90 minutes consistently, and that’s what’s coming back to bite us. We’re a young team, but that’s no excuse … you don’t give up goals like that. They basically had nothing the whole game, we kept pushing the tempo, we kept attacking, we kept possession well, we created chances, and at the end of 90 minutes, we’re still 2-1 down.
(Pat Phelan’s) a workhorse, and he does a lot of stuff he doesn’t get credit for. And tonight it definitely shows his passing ability, spraying the ball left side, right side and just winning all those balls. I think with another year under his belt, he’s gonna be awesome next year with him and me in the middle. I’m looking forward to that. Right now, I wanna give him credit – I think he was the MVP of the game because he won all those balls and helped us get possession when he needed it.
NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION GOALKEEPER MATT REIS
I’d like to have that one back. I think I could probably come to that one and just clean it up. The problem with my position is if you make a mistake, it usually comes to bit you in the (rear end). But unfortunately, the way the season’s been going we keep on beating ourselves more than we’re letting other teams beat us. Tonight was a clear example of that.
Tonight the fans were great and we had a great crowd. We really passed the ball and we really showed what we can do. In the end, we were on the wrong side of the result and it’s really bittersweet. Just goes to show you that we can pass the ball and we can play with anybody in this league. The problem is we just have to do it day in and day out.
I think we’ve lost a few leaders in this locker room and it’s time for the young guys to step up and realize they’re a key part of this team. He and I are the two elder statesmen of the team, but in the end, whoever’s out there has got to take control their job and do their job.
In the end, if you look at the last three games, we’ve got two points out of them. We are playing a bit better, but at the end of the season, they have no bearing on the postseason. It’s great we’re finally playing – we’re not just kicking the ball. We’re trying to pass and we’ve done a pretty good job the last couple of games. But we need results.
NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION MIDFIELDER PAT PHELAN
It was important for us to come out in the second half and keep the pressure on them. I thought we had the better of play the majority of the time. I think we took our foot off the gas. Ithink we were getting frustrated that we weren’t getting anything out of our chances. And against a team like (Salt Lake), you can’t do that; you have to keep plugging away. Like we’ve been saying all year, we have to score the first goal. It’s just too tough for us to come from behind. We did a good job to pull back, but we need another lesson on how to mark in the box.
As time goes on, I’m getting more comfortable out there. He’s getting more comfortable and we’re learning each other’s tendencies more and more, and it’s just a matter of going out there and putting it into a game situation.
As good as Marko (Perović) and Ilija (Stolica) are, they need help. They need guys underneath them to get it out and get it wide. Same with the wide guys. We can’t just attack with four. It’s not working. So keeping that in mind, we still maintain our defensive shape, but we try to push forward as much as possible.
It’s encouraging that we started the game off well. Unfortunately we didn’t get anything out of it. But we’re keeping the ball better, being dangerous and getting more chances. It’s taking a lot of pressure off our defenders.