Xolos stadium
Tyler Gibbons

Game at a Glance: TIJ 1-0 RSL

Real Salt Lake 0 at Tijuana 1
February 2, 2016; Estadio Caliente
2016 Real Salt Lake Preseason

Man of the Match: Real Salt Lake was again strong defensively, though tested by the Tijuana attack.  When those moments arose, Nick Rimando was able to make some key stops while also organizing the defense masterfully.  He does all the little things so well that it’s easy to take them for granted, but early in preseason they are the most important as teams build toward two big games to open the season in Champions League.

Telling Stat: One shot on goal (unofficially).  Real Salt Lake’s attack was at times very fluid and dangerous, but it didn’t generate the scoring chances that the club hopes will come as things get more cohesive.  That one shot (unofficially) came with the last kick of the ball when Olmes Garcia tried a back-heel flick form close range that was saved by the keeper.

What You Missed: The combination play among Juan Manuel Martinez, Javier Morales and at times Joao Plata and Yura Movsisyan was like an appetizer to the main dish they could serve up when they all get on the same page.  That the rest of the team got in on the action on occasion too, with Tony Beltran and Demar Phillips alternately pressing forward on the wings and Luke Mulholland and Kyle Beckerman providing support in the middle, leaves a lot of reason for optimism for the excitement levels in 2016.

So What: While there were flashes of what the offense can bring and the defense was good in stretches, the consistency still wasn’t there.  RSL has four more games to clean that up, but will have to wait until February 11 to start those contests.  For the time being, RSL returned home to Utah on Wednesday and will resume training when they move camp to Tucson, Arizona, on Sunday.

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