REAL SALT LAKE OPENS PRESEASON SCHEDULE WITH 1-1 DRAW AGAINST VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC
FW Fabian Espindola’s 39th Penalty Kick Equalizes in Physical 125-minute Affair;
RSL’s First Preseason Roster Cuts Include Chris Agorsor & Donny Toia
CASA GRANDE, Ariz. (Friday, February 10, 2012) – Real Salt Lake took to the field for exhibition play for the first time this 2012 preseason earlier today, the Claret-and-Cobalt opening their spring slate with a 1-1 draw against Vancouver Whitecaps FC at the Grande Sports World complex. The 125-minute contest was played across three periods (45-45-35), allowing both clubs an extended look at their assembled camp rosters.
While Real Salt Lake’s players relished the opportunity to kick someone besides themselves after two weeks of training, it was Vancouver doing most of the kicking in the opening 15 minutes, as some rusty touches by RSL and overzealous challenges from the opposition resulted in some high anxiety in the early going.
After three cautions were issued in the span of eight minutes soon after, both sides would calm down the physical play and pick up their attacks, with Whitecaps FC hitting paydirt first in the 27th minute. It was a former RSL’er, MF Atiba Harris, creating the chance, as he played FW Darren Mattocks into the right side of the area, where the 2012 MLS SuperDraft’s second overall selection slotted a low shot just between GK Nick Rimando and the right post to push Vancouver ahead 1-0.
But the lead would last only until the 39th minute, when RSL FW Fabian Espíndola struck a low blast from the penalty spot to the right of wrong-footed Vancouver ‘keeper Joe Cannon to even things up at 1-1. It was RSL MF Ned Grabavoy’s constant buzzing around the Whitecaps FC area finally paying off, the newly re-signed veteran being taken down with a tackle as he ushered the ball into the top of the area moments earlier.
Largely the same cast of characters would start the next stanza for RSL, with Head Coach Jason Kreis opting to swap the bulk of his players for a new look just after the hour mark. The change of personnel didn’t change RSL’s fortunes with the referees, as the Utahns picked up four yellow card cautions during the period.
While Espindola’s pick-pocket of GK Brad Knighton’s poor distribution and his ultimately fruitless attempt to round the netminder in the 57th minute marked the most dangerous offensive opportunity, it was the insertion of MF Sebastian Velasquez a couple of minutes earlier that provided a quick jolt for the RSL attack. The rookie hopeful first picked out MF Jonny Steele with a cutback cross after achieving the endline in the 63rd minute, but while Steele’s header beat Knighton it also drifted just over the crossbar. Four minutes later Velasquez ran onto a free kick at the right corner of the six-yard box, but his volleyed attempt would also barely miss the frame.
Steele also created a fine chance of his own in the 82nd minute after rounding a defender on the right flank, but his cross to pick out FW Emiliano Bonfigli’s far-post run was snagged by Knighton. In the waning moments of the period FW Cody Arnoux had two bites of the apple to put RSL in front, but his first chance was knocked away by Knighton before another seconds later got caught up in traffic at the top of the six.
The final 35 minutes was highlighted by a pair of fine saves by GK Lalo Fernandez, the RSL-Arizona Academy product first knocking away FW Omar Salgado’s straight-on rocket from 20 yards in the 103rd minute, followed by a fingertip touch that forced a close-range shot to deflect straight down off the crossbar in the 112th minute. The best offensive chance for the Utah side came in the 118th minute, when MF Enzo Martinez saw his blast from the arc knocked away by GK Andrew Fontein.
VAN – Darren Mattocks (Atiba Harris, Greg Klazura) 27
RSL – Fabian Espíndola (penalty kick) 39
VAN – Atiba Harris 18
RSL – Samir Bengelloun 21
RSL – Terukazu Tanaka 26
VAN – Camilo Sanvezzo 45
RSL – Jonny Steele 51
RSL – Luis Gil 54
RSL – Jorge Salcedo 75
RSL – Chris Schuler 79
VAN – Gershon Koffie 90
Real Salt Lake:
First 45: Nick Rimando; Terukazu Tanaka (R), Jamison Olave, Leone Cruz, Samir Bengelloun (L); Nico Muñiz (deep), Ned Grabavoy (R), Mike Banner (L), Luis Gil (top); Paulo Jr., Fabian Espíndola
Middle 45: Kyle Reynish; Tanaka (Wes Knight 62), Cruz (Carlos Salcedo 62), Chris Schuler, Bengelloun (Banner 62) (Diogo de Almeida 80); Yordany Alvarez, Jonny Steele, Banner (Lewis Neal 62), Gil (Sebastian Velasquez 55); Paulo Jr. (Cody Arnoux 62), Espindola (Emiliano Bonfigli 62)
Final 35: Lalo Fernandez; Knight, Salcedo, Schuler (Julio Alarcon 115), de Almeida; Steele, Alvarez, Neal, Enzo Martinez; Arnoux, Bonfigli
Vancouver Whitecaps FC:
Group 1: Joe Cannon; Greg Klazura, Carlyle Mitchell, Jay DeMerit, Jordan Harvey; Atiba Harris, Jun Marques Davidson, Floyd Franks, Camilo Sanvezzo; Darren Mattocks, Eric Hassli
Group 2: Brad Knighton; Young-Pyo Lee, Carlyle Mitchell (Bilal Duckett 73), Michael Boxall, Alain Rochat; Michael Nanchoff, John Thorrington, Gershon Koffie, Davide Chiumiento; Matt Watson, Sebastien Le Toux
Group 3: Andrew Fontein; Chris Estridge, Bilal Duckett, Michael Boxall, Greg Klazura; Long Tan, Bryce Alderson, Patrick Cregg, Russell Teibert; Lee Nguyen, Omar Salgado
RSL Training Camp Notes
- Real Salt Lake made the first cuts of its preseason on Thursday’s travel day, as FW Chris Agorsor, D/F Donny Toia and trialist MF Austin da Luz were released from camp. The removal of the trio knocked RSL’s assembled group of players under contract and roster hopefuls down to 30 for the squad’s five-day stay at Grande Sports World. Click here for an updated preseason camp roster.
- A pair of RSL-Arizona Academy defenders, Carlos Salcedo and Julio Alarcon, got took to their home turf of Grande Sports World with the RSL first team against Vancouver. Salcedo, who has trained with the full group for much of its previous 10 days in Phoenix, was inserted in the 62nd minute, while Alarcon replaced Chris Schuler for the final 10 minutes, playing alongside his RSL-AZ teammate in central defense.
- Seven veterans were sequestered on the sidelines today in order to recuperate from injuries of varying severity, the group including defenders Tony Beltran, Nat Borchers and Chris Wingert; midfielders Kyle Beckerman, Will Johnson and Javier Morales; and forward Álvaro Saborío. Of that group, only Borchers and Saborio are expected to miss significant time in the upcoming weeks
- Stay tuned to RealSaltLake.com throughout the rest of the weekend for post-game interviews and photos galleries from today’s scrimmage against Vancouver. Media outlets interested in obtaining hi-resolution images from today’s contest can send their requests to jkoluder@RealSaltLake.com.
- Click here for DF Chris Wingert’s thoughts on today’s scrimmage and all things “RSL in Arizona” via his interview from this afternoon’s “Bill Riley Show” on ESPN 700.
- Midfielder Sebastian Velasquez would rather celebrate his 21st birthday no place else than in the middle of the desert! The pride of Spartanburg Methodist Community College will celebrate the landmark birthday on Saturday.
- RSL will keep a busy schedule for the final four days of its opening spring training trip in The Grand Canyon State, practicing at Grande Sports World once on Saturday (10:00 a.m.), twice on Sunday (10:00 a.m. & 4:30 p.m.) and once more on Monday (10:00 a.m.). The squad will then head back to the Reach 11 Sports Complex in Phoenix on Tuesday morning for a scrimmage against D.C. United (11:30 a.m. kick, live updates via Twitter @RealSaltLake) before returning to Utah that evening.