Saturday, August 29, 2009

RSL Reserves Invade Kansas and come away 1-0 winners

On a night that everything seemed to be stacked against his squad Coach Jason Kreis decided to give them one more hurdle to over come. The team was playing its third game in a weeks time and in order to avoid tired legs Kreis employed a different starting lineup in each match. With most of his regulars already having played significant minutes Real went with a lineup that resembled what one would have seen in a reserve game in years past. Chris Seitz started in place of Nick Rimando and joining him in a starting role were normal bench players Andy Williams, Robbie Russell, Ned Grabavoy, Pablo Campos, and rookie Rafael Cox.

The strategy paid off quickly as Real started with some intensity and had a couple early chances to take the lead. The Wizards seemed up to the challenge however and managed to twice repel the RSL attack inside their own penalty box. They wouldn't be able to do it a third time. In the 18th minute Pablo Campos delivered his second career goal for Real Salt Lake. Andy Williams setup the goal, receiving the ball in an attacking position and played a perfectly weighted ball to Campos around the penalty spot. Pablo did the rest burying the ball in the far corner before Kansas City Keeper Kevin Hartman could react. It was Andy’s second assist of the week and Pablo’s second goal.

With the lead in place Real started to bunker in defensively and seemed content to play counter attacking soccer for the rest of the half. Repeatedly taking the ball away from a stagnant Kansas attack and playing it forward to Campos and Williams. The defensive style almost came back to haunt them as Seitz was called upon to make 4 crucial saves before half time. The most dangerous of which was a Claudio Lopez shot from the left side of the goal that deflected off Chris Wingert’s foot. Seitz pushed the ball wide setting up one of the 11 corner kicks that the Wizard took on the night.

With the run of play starting to swing toward Kansas City the ref decided to add another hurdle to RSLs chances. Ned Grabavoy went in late on a tackle from the side in the 43 minute and after the play came to a halt the ref reached into his pocket and pulled out a red card. With that Grabavoy’s night ended early and RSLs chances of winning took a serious hit. The team managed to pull together for the remaining few minutes of the half and went to the break up a goal but down a man.

As the second half started Kreis went right to his bench pulling out Andy Williams in favor of giving another rookie some game time. Jean Alexandre got into his second match of the season and added some bite to the Salt Lake midfield. Mathis and Cox also dropped back into more of a midfield role and Campos was left up top alone for much of his remaining time on the pitch. Campos would be replaced by Robbie Findley in the 56th minute and then it was Findley who was left up top to try and counter attack the Wizards alone.

The second half was all defense all the time for Real as Kansas pushed hard for an equalizer. Seitz faced 17 shots in all and was forced to make seven saves to preserve his first career MLS victory. Fabian Espindola would make an appearance’s for Salt Lake coming on for Cox in the 76th minute but he wouldn't get much of a chance to attack either as RSL bunkered to preserve the lead. Whether it was Seitz’s stellar performance in goal or a solid RSL defense or just a case of Kansas showing why they haven't scored since the all-star break fans back in Utah can rest easier next week knowing the team did enough to earn its second road win this year and first one ever in Kansas City. With 33 points on the season the team currently sits tied for 6th place though they have now played more games than five of the teams that are nipping at their heels.