Jason Kreis preached patience to the fans and media ahead of Real Salt Lake’s season opener against the San Jose Earthquakes, considering the new additions and off-season departures that supposedly have left the team weaker than last year. Maybe he, and everyone else, underestimated this team a little.
The first half, San Jose were all over the unexperienced RSL back line. With top MLS top goalscorer Chris Wondolowski always preying on loose balls in dangerous areas, the chances he had were uncharacteristically wasted, leaving RSL lucky to get into half time with the score still level. Putting passes together and keeping the ball seemed difficult for the young team who were missing leaders Nat Borchers, Chris Wingert, Ned Grabavoy and Javier Morales, and I think most RSL fans watching were hoping to get out of Buck Shaw with, at most, a draw.
I don’t know what Jason Kreis said at half time, but a completely different team came out to play the second half! Attacking chances seemed to be flowing, Robbie Findley’s speed was finally being utilized, and the defense seemed to be settled into the game. Joao Plata came on in the 65th minute for Robbie Findley, a basic speed-for-speed swap. It took him just 5 minutes to make an impact as he trapped a ball out of the air and sent it over the SJ defense to Saborio who one-timed the ball into the net! 1-0 RSL in the 71st minute!
Although San Jose were pushing for an equalizing goal in the closing stages of the game, RSL gained possession, and put together 12 passes in the attacking half of the field. Sebastian Velasquez and Luis Gil had some great combination play, finding the feet of Kyle Beckerman who slipped a ball through to, you guessed it, Alvaro Saborio, who cushioned his first touch as he turned and slotted the ball past John Busch. 2-0 RSL 85′ minute. The score held through the end of the game, and Real Salt Lake took 3 points on the road from the 2012 Supporters Shield winners.
A few Real Salt Lake players also had some landmark games. Captain Kyle Beckerman played his 300th RSL game, and Nick Rimando earned his 100th shut out. Congrats, boys!
The MLS season rolls on this weekend. Make sure you keep with the ladies of @AerysSoccer for recaps, news and more!