SANDY, Utah – Real Salt Lake (6-0-5, 23 points, West #2) stayed unbeaten in 2014 on Saturday night, extending its winning streak to three and starting the 2014 Rocky Mountain Cup on the right foot with a 2-1 win over Colorado Rapids (4-4-3, 15 points, West #5) at a sold-out Rio Tinto Stadium.
FW Joao Plata and MF Javier Morales scored in the 23rd and 51st minutes for the Claret-and-Cobalt. Colorado Captain Drew Moor pulled one back for the Rapids in the 83rd to create a nervy final few minutes, but RSL was able to hold firm, extending its regular season unbeaten streak to 11 games this year and to 15 games dating back to September 2013.
RSL was without three of its most important players on Saturday, as Captain Kyle Beckerman (U.S.), GK Nick Rimando (U.S.) and FW Alvaro Saborio (Costa Rica) were all absent while on international duty. All three players departed on Wednesday after being named to the preliminary World Cup rosters for their respective national teams. The final World Cup rosters will be named by June 2; any RSL players traveling to Brazil for this summer’s tournament will miss a minimum of six league games and at least one – and up to three – Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup contests.
Despite the high-profile absences, RSL controlled the entire first half, registering the game’s first chance in the eighth minute. MF Ned Grabavoy had the look, starting the play by slipping Plata through into the right side of the area. Plata quickly played a return ball, excellently cutting a cross back to an open Grabavoy at the top of the area. The veteran midfielder hit a shot with his first touch, but it was blocked by Colorado DF Marvell Wynne.
Real Salt Lake DF Chris Wingert tested Colorado GK Clint Irwin in the 17th minute, firing a low shot from distance on the left side that the Rapids ‘keeper smartly parried into the right side of the box and away from danger.
Plata put RSL on top in the 23rd minute. DF Tony Beltran started the play on the right sideline, cutting a ball in to FW Devon Sandoval in the Rapids’ third. Sandoval quickly found MF Javier Morales, who pulled a nifty turn and played Plata behind the left side of the Colorado defense. The diminutive Ecuadorian did the rest, firing a low left-footer past Irwin and inside the far post for his sixth goal of the season.
Grabavoy had a good chance to make it 2-0 six minutes later. Sandoval and Morales again combined to make the play, with Sandoval finding the Argentine midfielder in the center of Colorado’s third for a through ball to lead Grabavoy into the left side of the box. Irwin was ready for Grabavoy’s first time shot, blocking the 12-yard effort before Wynne cleared it away.
Colorado nearly equalized in the 43rd minute, when FW Edson Buddle flicked FW Dillon Powers’ free kick from the left flank off the outside of the right post and out of play.
The Rapids had another look just before the halftime whistle, when MF Nick LaBrocca fired a shot from the right side of the area that RSL GK Jeff Attinella held comfortably.
Sandoval earned a penalty kick in the 50th minute. The target striker collected a Grabavoy ball in the middle of the area and took a touch to his left before getting taken down by Irwin. Morales coolly buried the spot kick in the 51st, sending Irwin the wrong way and burying the shot into the top-right corner.
RSL dodged a trio of bullets in the 53rd, 57th and 59th minutes. The Rapids had free headers on all three chances, but were unable to hit the target once. FW Deshorn Brown had the first chance, heading DF Marc Burch’s cross wide of the near post from the right side of the six. Moor had the ensuing two opportunities. Powers created the first chance, finding an unmarked Moor at the back post with a free kick from the left side. Thankfully for RSL, the Rapids captain missed the frame, heading his shot wide of the left post. Moor had an even bigger miss in the 59th, missing an open net after an Attinella punch fell to him just eight yards out.
Attinella came up with some big stops in the 68th and 73rd minutes to keep Colorado off the board. MF Dillon Serna had the first chance, pulling a nifty move on the left edge of the area and firing a low shot toward the near post that Attinella parried out for a corner. The fourth-year pro had a nice double save in the 73rd, stopping a low drive from Rapids substitute MF Kamani Hill at the right post before popping up and making himself big to smother Serna’s attempt off the rebound.
RSL responded well after Attinella’s strong sequence, pushing forward into the attack and nearly finding a third goal in the 77th minute. Plata floated an early cross in from the left wing, with Sandoval collecting and laying off for Morales at the top of the box. Morales ran onto the ball and smashed a dangerous looking half-volley toward frame, but the effort was blocked by a Rapids defender.
Moor pulled one back for Colorado in the 84th minute. Serna assisted, whipping in a free kick from the right wing that Moor got on the end of at the back post. The veteran defender found the target this time, snapping a header inside the left post from 10 yards out.
Colorado desperately pushed for an equalizer in the game’s dying moments, but RSL held strong, limiting the Rapids to lumping hopeful long balls into the box.
The Real Salt Lake Reserves and the Colorado Rapids Reserves will meet in MLS Reserve League action on Sunday morning, battling at 11:00 a.m. MT at America First Field in Sandy, Utah. Sunday’s Reserve League match is open to the public and free to attend.
The Real Salt Lake first team will return to action next Saturday, taking on FC Dallas at 7:30 p.m. MT at Rio Tinto Stadium. A very limited amount of tickets remain for next week’s match and can be purchased at the Rio Tinto Stadium box office, online at www.RealSaltLake.com/Tickets or over the phone at 801-727-2700.
Real Salt Lake Match Notes – RSL 2–1 COL
- Saturday’s attendance of 20,489 marked Real Salt Lake’s third sell-out of the 2014 season. RSL was at capacity for its home opener on March 22 against LA Galaxy and its April 19 match against Portland Timbers, both 1-0 wins. Tonight’s sell-out marks the club’s 32nd sell-out across all competitions since Rio Tinto Stadium’s 2008 opening.
- Saturday’s win over Colorado Rapids continued Real Salt Lake’s unbeaten record, improving the Claret-and-Cobalt to 6-0-5 in 2014. RSL’s 11-game unbeaten run to start the season is a club record. The team’s 15-game regular season unbeaten streak dating back to last September is the second-longest in club history, trailing only the 18-game regular season unbeaten run compiled in the 2010 and 2011 seasons.
- Saturday’s win means that RSL has become just the seventh team in MLS history to start a season unbeaten through its first 11 games. The all-time record for an unbeaten start to a season is 12 games, accomplished by the 1996 and 2010 LA Galaxy and 2000 Kansas City Wizards
- Saturday’s victory improved RSL Head Coach Jeff Cassar’s unbeaten start to his head coaching career to 11 games. Cassar’s 11-game unbeaten run to start his MLS coaching career is the second-longest such streak in league history, trailing only Lothar Osiander, who started the 1996 season 12-0-0 as head coach of the LA Galaxy.
- Missing from tonight’s lineup were U.S. internationals Captain Kyle Beckerman, GK Nick Rimando and Costa Rican international FW Alvaro Saborio. The trio were named to their respective country’s World Cup preliminary rosters this week and are currently participating in their squads’ World Cup training camps. If Beckerman, Rimando and Saborio are named to their country’s final World Cup roster, they will miss a minimum of six RSL regular season matches and at least one – and potentially up to three – Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup matches.
- Saturday’s game was RSL’s first this year without any of Beckerman, Rimando and Saborio in the lineup. The Claret-and-Cobalt is now 3-2-2 in MLS without every member of the high-profile trio since the start of last season.
- Saturday’s match was the first meeting of the 2014 Rocky Mountain Cup. RSL – which won the Cup six-straight years from 2007-12 before ceding it to Colorado last year – will win the 2014 RMC with a win over the Rapids in either of the two remaining games between the sides. RSL will play at Colorado on Aug. 2 before hosting the Rapids in the 2014 Rocky Mountain Cup finale on Sept. 19.
- Saturday’s win improved RSL’s all-time record against Colorado to 10-10-9. The Claret-and-Cobalt is now 8-3-4 all-time against Colorado at home.
- RSL FW Joao Plata recorded his sixth goal of the 2014 season on Saturday. Plata is now tied with Saborio as RSL’s leading scorer. Plata is tied for second in the league among players with more than 400 minutes played with a strike rate of 0.96 goals per 90 minutes.
- RSL MF Javier Morales converted from the penalty spot in the 51st minute to record his fourth goal of the season after scoring a hat trick against Houston last weekend. The Argentine also notched an assist on Plata’s goal, his fifth of 2014.
- RSL backup GK Jeff Attinella earned his third start of the 2014 season Saturday, filling in for Rimando. Saturday’s match was Attinella’s first win of the year; he now posts a 1-0-2 record in 2014 and a 2-2-3 regular season record in his RSL career.
- RSL MF Cole Grossman recorded his third career start for the Claret-and-Cobalt Saturday. The 25-year-old defensive midfielder replaced Captain Kyle Beckerman at the bottom of RSL’s midfield diamond with the U.S. international is away at the USMNT’s World Cup preparation camp in Palo Alto, Calif.
- RSL FW Devon Sandoval earned his first start of 2014 for Real Salt Lake tonight and recorded an assist on Plata’s first half goal, his first of the year and first of his professional career. Sandoval has now drawn penalty kicks in back-to-back games, drawing the PK at Houston last weekend. With Saborio away with the Costa Rican national team, the sophomore forward will likely continue to clock more minutes for the Claret-and-Cobalt.
- Saturday’s result continued the home team’s dominance in Rocky Mountain Cup play, extending the hosts’ unbeaten streak to 15 games in RMC matchups dating back to October 2007.
REAL SALT LAKE 2–1 COLORADO RAPIDS
SATURDAY, MAY 17, 2014
RIO TINTO STADIUM
Goals by Period 1 2 F
Real Salt Lake 1 1 2
Colorado Rapids 0 1 1
RSL – Joao Plata (Javier Morales, Devon Sandoval) – 24’
RSL – Javier Morales (Penalty Kick) – 51’
COL – Drew Moor (Dillon Serna) – 83’
RSL – Cole Grossman (Yellow; Foul) – 33’
RSL – Luke Mulholland (Yellow; Dissent) – 44’
RSL – Javier Morales (Yellow; Simulation) – 64’
RSL – John Stertzer (Yellow; Foul) – 90’+3’
Real Salt Lake (4-1-2-1-2): Jeff Attinella; Tony Beltran, Nat Borchers, Chris Schuler, Chris Wingert; Cole Grossman, Luke Mulholland (Sebastian Velasquez, 96’), Ned Grabavoy, Javier Morales (C) (John Stertzer, 92’); Devon Sandoval, Joao Plata (Luis Gil, 89’)
Substitutes not used: Lalo Fernandez; Abdoulie Mansally, Aaron Maund, Olmes Garcia
Colorado Rapids (4-4-2): Clint Irwin; Christopher Klute, Marvell Wynne, Drew Moor, Marc Burch (Danny Mwanga, 89’); Dillon Serna, Nick LaBrocca, Nathan Sturgis (Kamani Hill, 50’), Deshorn Brown; Dillon Powers (Marlon Hairston, 73’), Edson Buddle
Substitutes not used: John Berner; Shane O’Neill, Thomas Piermayr, Jared Watts
Referee: Mark Geiger
Assistant Referees: Sean Hurd, Joe Fletcher
4th Official: Daniel Radford
Weather: Clear and 80 degrees