Oceanside, Calif. – Real Salt Lake opened the 2016 preseason with a victory on Saturday, topping San Diego State University 1-0 on a 70th minute goal from Javier Morales. RSL Head Coach Jeff Cassar mixed and matched his lineups, playing nobody longer than 45 minutes as he cycled through his preseason roster to build towards RSL’s first match of the season, a CONCACAF Champions League Quarterfinal Round match against Tigres on February 24 in Mexico.
The team continues to build its sharpness as that first competitive match approaches and Cassar emphasized the defensive focus in the first matchup.
“We didn’t talk anything offensively. Obviously we want to win the game, but did we accomplish what we wanted to? And I think we did for probably about 85-percent of each session,” Cassar said after the match. “We worked on pressing. We worked on trapping. We worked on our transition. And I thought it was good. It wasn’t perfect, but I really thought guys dug in and we got the shutout. That was the main goal.”
The first big scoring chance for RSL came around the 19th minute when Olmes Garcia rolled the ball up the left side of the box for Jordan Allen, who was playing in a central attacking midfield role. Allen crossed for Yura Movsisyan, but just missed the forward at the near post.
Later, Garcia found Movsisyan with a cross, but Movsisyan’s header skipped just wide of goal in the 29th minute. Those close opportunities peppered the first half, but Salt Lake couldn’t grasp the lead over its college foes.
But after a complete overhaul of the first-half lineup, Morales began to spark some danger for RSL.
In the 70th minute, he found Devon Sandoval in the box for a scoring chance, but Sandoval couldn’t get enough on it and the Aztecs got the clearance. Moments later, Max Lachowecki regained possession and passed to Sandoval at the top of the box and he touched it wide to Morales for the shot to beat the goalkeeper and go up 1-0.
“Beautiful goal, but it came from defensive pressure,” Cassar said. “It was one of our wingers winning the ball in a high position, Devon getting it and passing for the goal. It was a great reaction to win it and it leads to easier goals rather than trying to break down 11 players to score every time.”
Morales would get one more scoring chance in the 84th minute, but the SDSU goalkeeper made a finger-tip save to push it wide and the final tally was 1-0.
RSL will take the day off on Sunday before returning to the training field on Monday. On Tuesday, the Claret-and-Cobalt will face Tijuana in Mexico for the last preseason match of the Oceanside trip.
Lalo Fernandez (Connor Sparrow 46); Boyd Okuwonu (Tony Beltran 46), Jamison Olave (Aaron Maund 46), Phanuel Kavita (Justen Glad 46), Demar Phillips (Abdoulie Mansally 46); Kyle Beckerman (Fito Ovalle 33, Luke Mulholland 61), Omar Holness (Danilo Acosta 33, John Stertzer 61); Olmes Garcia (Amass Amankona 46), Jordan Allen (Javier Morales 46), Juan Manuel Martinez (Max Lachowecki 46); Yura Movsisyan (Devon Sandoval 46).
70: Javier Morales (Devon Sandoval, Max Lachowecki)