RSL Notes & Quotes - RSL 2 : 0 FCD

Utah Side Becomes Second Team in MLS History to Finish Season Undefeated at Home in Front of Record Crowd in Sandy;

With Home-field in Western Conference Semifinal Series Secured, RSL Now One Point Behind L.A. Galaxy for Top Spot in MLS

SANDY, Utah (Saturday, October 16, 2010) – Real Salt Lake gave a record crowd of 20,236 at Rio Tinto Stadium plenty to cheer about in its home regular season finale, scoring twice in the second half to record a 2-0 win over FC Dallas. After a slow 15 minutes to start the match, Real Salt Lake gradually began to take control of the proceedings, culminating in the second half with a header by MF Ned Grabavoy in the 59th minute to take the lead and a 89th minute tally by MF Javier Morales to secure the hugely important three points for the defending MLS Cup champions.


When coupled with Colorado’s 3-1 win over Los Angeles at The Home Depot Center, tonight’s victory kept Real Salt Lake in the running for its first-ever MLS Supporters Shield title heading into next Saturday’s regular season finale against the Rapids. Real Salt Lake’s 55 points (15-4-10) puts the defending champs just a single point behind the Galaxy (17-7-5), who will host FC Dallas next Sunday in the final contest of Major League Soccer’s 240-game slate in 2010. The victory also earned RSL one of the Western Conference’s two automatic berths into the MLS Cup Playoffs, guaranteeing home-field advantage at Rio Tinto Stadium for the two-legged Western Conference Semifinal Series, which the Utah side will begin on the road two weekends from now against either FC Dallas, Seattle Sounders FC, or Colorado.


Real Salt Lake Match Notes

  • With tonight’s win, Real Salt Lake joined the 2005 edition of the San Jose Earthquakes as the only two teams in MLS history to go undefeated at home during a regular season. The 37 points at home stand as the most by an MLS squad in a 30-game season, while RSL’s 11-0-4 mark at Rio Tinto Stadium in 2010 counts as three-fifths of the squad’s MLS-record 25-match home undefeated streak in regular season play. The result also brought FC Dallas’ MLS-record 12-match road undefeated streak to an end.
  • Tonight’s attendance of 20,236 marked the largest soccer attendance in Rio Tinto Stadium’s two-plus year history, breaking the previous best of 20,124 that attended the 2009 MLS All-Star Game against Everton FC last July.
  • Real Salt Lake’s 15th shutout of the season virtually guaranteed the Utah side will set the MLS record for fewest goals allowed in a season. With RSL giving up only 18 goals to this point, it would take a catastrophic defensive collapse next Saturday in Colorado to not eclipse the MLS record of 23, set by the Houston Dynamo in 2007. Tonight’s effort allowed RSL to set an MLS record for goals allowed at home during a single-season (7), while another shutout against the Rapids next weekend would also set the MLS mark for road goals allowed in a single campaign, the squad’s current 11 road goals allowed standing one better than the mark set by D.C. United in 2007. RSL’s dominant defense has allowed just seven goals in its last 19 matches, a stretch that includes 13 clean sheets.
  • In addition, Real Salt Lake broke its own MLS record for home goal differential during a season with tonight’s win, the +24 margin in the category topping the +23 mark it established last season in Sandy.
  • Goalkeeper Nick Rimando’s three-save effort upped his MLS-best shutout mark to 14 on the season, now alone as the 2nd most in a single campaign behind Tony Meola’s 16 back in 2000. The clean sheet was the 74th of his 11-year career, tying him with Joe Cannon (SJ) for third on the League’s all-time list in the category, the duo now just one behind second-place Zach Thornton (CHV) on the chart. Rimando’s 0.62 goals against average is even with FC Dallas netminder Kevin Hartman’s number on the season, the pair on pace to post the lowest-ever mark for a single-season in the category heading into RSL’s season finale at Colorado (previous record of 0.82 set by Houston’s Pat Onstad in 2007.)
  • Tonight’s game also allowed RSL to exact a measure of revenge on FC Dallas, which was the last team to defeat the Claret-and-Cobalt in MLS play (0-2 L at Pizza Hut Park on July 17). The win pushed Real Salt Lake’s club-record undefeated streak in League action to 13 games, the July loss in Frisco counting as the only mark in the “L” column for the Utah side in its last 24 League contests dating back to late-April (14-1-9).
  • With a goal and an assist on the evening, Javier Morales certainly added more credentials to his MLS MVP candidacy. The Argentine playmaker now stands alone in second on RSL’s scoring chart with seven goals in MLS play on the season, while his unlocking pass on Grabavoy’s go-ahead goal upped his team lead in assists to nine, now tied for 8th across the League in the category with fellow countryman Guillermo Barros Schelotto (CLB).
  • The tally just before the hour mark for Ned Grabavoy was his third of the season in League action and marked the first game-winner for the veteran midfielder in an RSL uniform, coming in his 42nd MLS appearance for the Utah side.
  • Real Salt Lake has some unfinished business in CONCACAF Champions League play to attend to before embarking on its Supporters Shield challenge next weekend, as Group A co-leader Cruz Azul (MEX) will visit the Wasatch Front this Tuesday, Oct. 19. Both RSL and Cruz Azul have clinched their spots in next spring’s Quarterfinal Round of the competition thanks to identical 3-1-1 (10 pts.) records to this point, so all that remains is to decide who will finish atop the group when the 8:00 p.m. MT kickoff in Sandy rolls around on Tuesday evening (live on Galavision).
  • Then it’s east across the Rockies to Commerce City, Colo., and Dick’s Sporting Goods Park for Real Salt Lake’s regular season finale next Saturday, October 23 against the Colorado Rapids (12-8-9, 45 pts.). While the Supporters Shield chase will be top priority for RSL, it will also be looking to keep the Rocky Mountain Cup for a fourth straight season against its archrival Colorado, which secured its passage into the MLS Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2006 earlier today. RSL will retain the Rocky Mountain Cup with either a win or a draw next Saturday thanks to a 1-1 draw in their first meeting on Sept. 25, in which DF Nat Borchers’ 90th minute header helped the home side secure a vital point at Rio Tinto Stadium.
  • Courtesy of his 75th minute caution, FW Fabian Espíndola will be forced to miss next Saturday’s season finale after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season.





On RSL’s performance:

“All of the midfielders and all of the forwards bought into a defensive effort tonight.  That’s when and why we get shutouts.

 “We finished the match flying high, so I’m pleased with that.  We were a little slow to get going, but at the end of the match, when our guys are flying around making so many nice defensive plays, you’ve got to feel good about our fitness.”

On his team’s slow start:

“I felt like [the team was] really, really tentative in the first half. I haven’t seen our group play that tentatively for a long time.  So for me it was like, ‘Hey, let’s relax, let’s be confident, and let’s remember that we’re here to go for it.  We’re not here to be nervous, or to have indecision and regrets after the game, we’re here to go for it.  They came here to draw, we came here to win.’  I told them to take the reins off and absolutely go for it, and they did.”

On FC Dallas’ aggressive play:

“It’s the first time this year that someone’s been that aggressive on our field in the first 15-20 minutes of the match. I walk away from this game and probably feel the most proud about shutting out what’s a very, very good and dangerous attacking team.”



On his game-winning header:

 “I think I was just in a better spot. It was one of those balls where he is kind of back pedaling and I am seeing it the whole time. So I was kind of in the right spot at the right time. Robbie [Russell] played a great ball, took a touch and kind of just looked at me, just lifted it over his head, so a good goal.”

On RSL’s place in the Supporters Shield race:

“Every game has been a big game lately and we just keep on going and going and going. We still have the Supporters Shield in our reach and that’s obviously a goal of ours, and as long as it is still there we are going to go for it.”

Thoughts on potentially seeing FC Dallas in the playoffs:

“It will absolutely be a good series [if we see them]. They are a really good team. I think they have the right players for their formation and for what they are trying to do and that is one of the reasons why they are so successful.”



Thoughts on another shutout:

“It’s pretty amazing when you think about how well we have done at home defensively this year. I am still trying to process it all. We wanted another zero tonight, but I thought it would be a lot more difficult and I felt like everybody switched on for us. I am really proud of all the guys tonight.”

On only giving up seven goals this season at home:

“I remember every goal we give up. I am probably the most defensive-minded player on the team. I definitely take goals against us personally. I am very proud of what we have accomplished at home this year.”



Thoughts on the match:

“We knew this game was going to be hard. We wanted to come in and obviously get a record, but first and foremost we wanted to get three points. We know we might meet up against them in the playoffs, but we were just focused on this game.”

Thoughts on RSL’s slow start:

“They pressured us. They had maybe four or five guys on our half of the field pressuring us, and it made us give the ball away a lot of times. I think things started to get a bit more calm [after the first 15 minutes] and we were able to play the ball through the midfield more and that’s our strength. We were able to create some good chances and put away some of those chances.”

On his one-on-one save against Jeff Cunningham:

“The fact that it could have changed the game was obviously in the back of my head, and I know he is trying to break a record. But when you are there you are just in the moment and he is just another striker that is trying to take a shot on us and I am just trying to make a save on the ball.”



Overall thoughts on the match:

“I thought we started off very well for the first 15 or 18 minutes, and then we started giving a lot of balls away because the pressure was very high on us. I thought we came out well in the second half and we created a couple of nice chances. [Ned] Grabavoy gets a header and the second goal was a giveaway, but at the same time I thought we were outplayed tonight. Salt Lake had a step on us and moved the ball quite well.”

On FC Dallas’ strategy entering the game:

“The idea of the game was to come out and get three points. We went after it and that’s why in the first 15 or 18 minutes we were doing so well. What ended up happening is that we were just turning a lot of balls over. I didn’t think too many of our players had a very good game. In the second half we went to a level two defense where our wing midfielders weren’t going out and trying to press the ball.”

On possibly seeing Real Salt Lake again in the playoffs:

“If you look at both games [during the regular season] it was pretty even. If we match up again we will have to get the result at our field and then come [to Rio Tinto Stadium] and come after it again. I think that Real Salt Lake had a good game tonight and I think we had an average game and we didn’t do anything exceptional.”



Overall thoughts on the match:

“I think it was a good match for Salt Lake. They showed why they are undefeated at home [this season]. They have a solid team; they work hard for each other and they are coached well and it was a good win for them. It was not our best match. We have had better games this year. We didn’t create too many chances.”

On the end of their unbeaten streak:

“Streaks are awesome. We had a great run, but I think our focus should be on the next game and into the playoffs.”



Overall thoughts on the match:

“I feel bad about the loss and we all knew it was going to be a tough game coming in here against Real Salt Lake. But we didn’t have a good game. We didn’t do the things we were supposed to be doing, so we just have to rest now and concentrate on the next game.”

On the difference between the first 15 minutes and the rest of the match:

“We started giving away a lot of balls [after the first 15 minutes] and we were making a lot of mistakes and were out of position. When we were in the attacking third, instead of being precise with our passing we were giving a lot of balls away.” / / /