Real Salt Lake finished its first leg of preseason camp on Tuesday with a preseason match against Tijuana in Mexico. Head Coach Jeff Cassar used a largely first-choice lineup to start the match, but a goal in the 34th minute from former U.S. youth international Paul Arriola proved to be the difference as Xolos topped RSL 1-0 at Estadio Caliente.
The match opened with the two teams trading opportunities. Tijuana had the first shot in the ninth minute as Nick Rimando made a diving save to keep the long-range shot from finding the corner. RSL had some good combination play with Javier Morales, Juan Manuel Martinez and Joao Plata, finishing with Plata getting to the edge of the box in 16th minute but couldn’t get the shot away. Then in the 18th minute Martinez crossed a ball from the right side that nearly got tucked away by Demar Phillips only to have it cleared by an alert defender.
Finally, in the 34th minute RSL had a costly turnover in the midfield and Tijuana took advantage with a ball that split Jamison Olave and Tony Beltran and left Arriola alone against Rimando. He converted the chance and Tijuana went up 1-0.
“I don’t like the goal. We haven’t really worked with the ball, but we gave the ball away cheaply and it’s what we do from there,” Cassar said. “It was a poor giveaway in a bad area and then they split the ball between our outside back and center back and you can’t have that. You can’t have that.”
The chances were much fewer and further between in the second half and RSL nearly squeaked out a draw on the last kick of the ball as Olmes Garcia got to a loose ball in the box and attempted to flick a back-heel shot past the keeper, but he was there for the save and the match ended 1-0.
“I think we laid the groundwork, but it’s going to have to be a daily thing of working on it, without a doubt, for us to be successful in Champions League and MLS. We’ve got to be extremely sound defensively and it’s exciting that when we do it right, it really spurs on our attack,” Cassar said. “We’re getting there, but I really like that we were able to get a good hard-fought battle.”
RSL returns to Utah on Wednesday and will resume camp on Sunday with a trip to Tucson, Arizona, for the next stage of preseason.
Real Salt Lake lineup
Nick Rimando (Jeff Attinella 46); Tony Beltran (Boyd Okuwonu 46), Jamison Olave (Justen Glad 46), Aaron Maund (Phanuel Kavita 46), Demar Phillips (Abdoulie Mansally 46); Kyle Beckerman (John Stertzer 33), Luke Mulholland (Fito Ovalle 46); Juan Manuel Martinez (Olmes Garcia 46), Javier Morales (Jordan Allen 46), Joao Plata (Emery Welshman 33, Amass Amankona 65); Yura Movsisyan (Devon Sandoval 46, Max Lachowecki 75).
TIJ – Paul Arriola 34