Two weeks to First Kick, RSL and MLS fans. We’re almost there! Luckily the league’s Web site has been streaming the Tucson Desert Diamond Cup live so we can feed our soccer addictions.
Real Salt Lake opened the tournament against the New York Red Bulls, starting a team of almost all new players, with the exceptions of Yordany Alvarez, David Viana and Carlos Salcedo, so I decided I wasn’t going to expect anything of them as they played Thierry Henry, Tim Cahill and former RSL stalwarts Jamison Olave and Fabian Espindola. You can imagine how excited I was when Joao Plata scooped New York’s keeper from 10 yards out and put the ball in the back of the net in the 1st minute! I’m pretty sure our neighbors could hear us singing RSL’s anthem at the top of our lungs.
Two minutes later, the neighbors broke out the earplugs as Real went up 2-0. Joao Plata hit a hard shot at the keeper, who deflected it into the path of an on running Cole Grossman who slammed that sucker into the back of the net, doubling the good guys the advantage in the 3rd minute. Although the lead was blown and the game ended in a 2-2 draw, I was encouraged from what I saw from the young and new guys: good moments, high energy, and bits of great combination play.
On Saturday, they took on the Sounders. They unfortunately lost this game 2-1, with goals from Mario Martinez (SEA), Philip Lund (SEA), and John Stertzer (RSL) .Despite the loss, the energy and play that was yet again displayed by the younger players was extremely impressive!
A player who has been come to be known as, “Striker X”, among the RSL faithful as they have long awaited his arrival has finally landed on U.S. soil. Olmes Garcia is set to sign with RSL pending his physical and paper finalization, and may see playing time during the Desert Diamond Cup. The 20-year-old Colombian isn’t very well known, but his strength and height can be utilized well by Real. Trialists Josh Saunders and Khari Stephenson seem to be signing with the team as well. It looks as though RSL have filled the holes in their roster, and are set for the season.
Luis Gil left the RSL camp to join the U-20 U.S. National team for the CONCACAF Championship. The played Haiti this Monday, finishing with a score of 2-1. Gil buried a PK in the 4th minute, and Daniel Cuevas blasted one in the net in the 26th minute. Next they take on Costa Rica. Good luck to Luis and the rest of the team!
The only players not training with the team at the moment are Gil, and injured players Chris Wingert, Nat Borchers, and Javier Morales. Other players have little knocks, but the one’s that were mentioned by Jason Kreis during a radio interview on ESPN 700 saw about 40 minutes during the DDC game Wednesday.