Dallas Soccer: Real Salt Lake
SANDY, Utah -- Nat Borchers doesn't score many goals. When the veteran defender does come up with one, however, they usually are clutch.
That was certainly the case Saturday night when Borchers scored in stoppage time to give Real Salt Lake a 3-2 victory over FC Dallas.
Alvaro Saborio had two second-half goals to help Salt Lake (9-3-2) extend its unbeaten streak to six games. Dallas (3-8-4) is winless in nine games, despite getting second-half goals from Matt Hedges and Blas Perez, and hasn't won in Utah since 2007.
Borchers scored in the 93rd minute. A loose ball fell to his feet deep in the center of the box after being knocked around a bit. Borchers had a clear lane for a shot and the veteran defender hooked the ball inside the right post.
"We were pushing for that goal," Borchers said. "All the guys were fighting and were getting chances. It's going to happen when you put pressure on a team like that."
Injuries and absences for other reasons left both teams short-handed. A total of seven midfielders and defenders were scrubbed because of injuries for FC Dallas. An eighth player, Brek Shea, wasn't available because of a suspension. RSL didn't have goalkeeper Nick Rimando or team captain Kyle Beckerman because both were playing with the U.S. national team Saturday.
Even while suffering a loss, Dallas coach Schellas Hyndman felt encouraged by the effort he saw for 90 minutes. Hyndman was convinced his team did enough to nearly steal a point on the road.
"It's encouraging to score two goals," Hyndman said. "It's more encouraging to come back twice and not give up with the adversity that was out there."
Effects from the talent drain were felt in the first half. Dallas and Salt Lake combined for just seven shots and neither team could do much to gain advantage. Windy conditions also made balls hang in the air longer than normal and caused problems for each offense.
RSL coach Jason Kreis counted on things changing once the conditions grew more manageable in the second half.
"I wasn't anticipating the gates to open against us, but I was anticipating for us to score some goals -- which we did," Kreis said.
Salt Lake finally found some life on offense in the 59th minute. Terakazu Tanaka sent a cross to Saborio at the right post. Saborio leapt up and sent a header through the outstretched hands of goalkeeper Kevin Hartman.
Dallas tied it at 1 in the 75th minute when Hedges launched a right footer from a difficult angle and snapped a 325 minute shutout streak by RSL. Goalkeeper Kyle Reynish actually parried away the initial shot from Hedges, but he did so from behind the goal line and the goal counted.
Saborio came through right away to extinguish any momentum Dallas gained from the equalizer. He latched onto a pass from Ned Grabavoy and then drilled a right footer from the right side of the box to make it 2-1 for Salt Lake.
Dallas tied it at 2 in the 85th minute when Perez fired a shot from the center of the box and the ball slipped off Reynish's glove.
Borchers erased those rallies in the end, but losing the lead twice did not sit well with several players in the RSL locker room.
"When you're out there and you give up leads like that, it's just absolutely deflating -- especially when you work that long in the game to not really give them anything," Grabavoy said.
A more level field? -- Salt Lake will be without Kyle Beckerman and Nick Rimando for this one as both starters are with the U.S. national team. But it’s not like FCD hasn’t faced RSL before without Beckerman. Yordany Alvarez will spell Beckerman, the man Dallas fans love to hate, in the central midfield while Kyle Reynish will be between the posts. However, Salt Lake was without both top striker Fabian Espindola and former MLS Defender of the Year Jamison Olave the last time these clubs played to a 1-1 draw in Frisco back in April. Still, not having Beckerman and Rimando is definitely big for FCD. In other RSL-related injury news, it looks like either defender Chris Wingert or midfielder Javier Morales won’t play. Morales will most likely be the one to return, leaving Jason Kreis’ back line without the services of Wingert.
Rio Tinto demons -- Sure, the sample size is a small one, but in regular-season matches, FC Dallas has not fared well at all at Rio Tinto Stadium since its opening, going 0-4-1 and scoring a grand total of three goals in those five matches. Of course, there is one draw among those five results and FCD did register another draw in Sandy during the 2010 playoffs, so this is far from an impossible task. But RSL’s home field advantage is one of the best in MLS and against a Dallas side that has struggled away from home to put it mildly this year means this is one streak that most likely lives on after this weekend.
Study in contrasts -- The biggest contrast in this game might be in the amount of rest each club has had. RSL hasn’t played in two weeks, last hitting the pitch on May 12 for a 1-0 win at Seattle. Since then, Dallas has already played three times and will add a fourth match in two weeks in Saturday’s tilt at Rio Tinto. Even without the services of Beckerman, RSL will be a much more crisp, well-oiled machine compared to a highly fatigued FCD side that comes into this game fresh off an emotional yet controversial 2-1 loss at Chicago on Wednesday, the first time the club had lost at Toyota Park. So the big question is how much does Dallas have left?
Light at the end -- The good news for FCD is that after Saturday’s match in the Beehive State, they won’t play again for two weeks as they get a two-week break of their own. That being said, one has to wonder what the mentality would be heading into this game. Does FCD look to end their winless streak and head into their layoff on a hugely positive note, possibly using a draw or win at RSL as a springboard to the rest of the year? Or do they see getting through the Salt Lake game as a mere necessity, a way to finally get some rest and even if their winless streak does indeed hit nine games, just get out of RSL and get some rest? Some might think the second question is more than a bit off base but it’s human nature when things aren’t going bad, especially in a team setting, that at least some members of the roster are going to see the glass half empty, just saying.
Shea’s last break -- Another good thing about Saturday’s match from a Dallas standpoint is that it will be the final game of Brek Shea’s three-game suspension. Then again, Shea wasn’t exactly at the top of his game when he was suspended. Maybe part of that was the turf toe he was battling and then again, maybe it was nothing more than a dip in form. But getting him back for the Houston game will be huge, especially since FCD has been missing something on the flanks lately. Bryan Leyva played well against Philadelphia but displayed some serious inconsistency in a forgettable performance at Chicago. Fabian Castillo didn’t even travel to the Windy City and it’s doubtful he plays on Saturday, which likely means Carlos Rodriguez or Scott Sealy gets the call on the flank likely alongside Leyva. No matter who starts at the two flank midfield spots on Saturday at Rio Tinto, it will illustrate one thing, how crucial Shea is to any success FCD is to have or not have in 2012.
His club is still in better shape than FC Dallas.
RSL will try to extend its home winning streak to five Saturday night when Dallas looks to end its eight-match winless stretch.
Playing for the first time since a 1-0 victory at Seattle on May 12, Real Salt Lake (8-3-2) will be without goalkeeper Nick Rimando, Alvaro Saborio, Will Johnson and Kyle Beckerman on Saturday as they're all on international duty. The club also could be missing defender Chris Wingert (hamstring) and midfielder Javier Morales (quadriceps).
Kyle Reynish is expected to make his second start of the season in goal for RSL, while midfielders Yordany Alvarez and Luis Gil and defender Chris Schuler could see plenty of minutes against Dallas.
"We want to try to rotate the team in a way that we keep a strong spine or core group of players," Kreis told RSL's official website. "We will certainly hope for the same throughout the rest of the season."
Real Salt Lake, one point back of MLS-leading San Jose, is hoping to maintain its edge at Rio Tinto Stadium, where it is 5-1-0. The club's last five-game home winning streak was May 1-June 9, 2010.
RSL is 4-0-1 at home against Dallas since Rio Tinto Stadium opened. Real Salt Lake holds a 12-4 scoring edge in those contests.
That does not bode well for an FC Dallas club that's 0-5-1 on the road in 2012. Dallas (3-7-4) joins Portland and Toronto as the only teams without a victory away from home.
Dallas doesn't have a win on any field since a 2-1 victory over expansion Montreal on April 14. A 2-1 loss in Chicago on Wednesday stretched the team's winless streak to eight, two shy of the franchise record.
"We need to get points any way we can, a win, a tie, whatever," rookie defender Matt Hedges told the Fire's official website after scoring his first MLS goal Wednesday.
If the club is going to pick up any points Saturday, it will have to do so without midfielder Brek Shea, who will complete his three-game suspension after kicking the ball at an assistant referee in a 2-1 loss to Columbus on May 12.
Shea scored on a penalty kick in first-half stoppage time in a 1-all draw against visiting RSL on April 25.
Dallas played that match without suspended striker Blas Perez, while Real Salt Lake did not have forward Fabian Espindola and defender Jamison Olave available after both were red-carded in a 3-1 loss at San Jose on April 21.
Real Salt Lake is on a season-best 3-0-2 run since ending a two-game losing streak in last month's match with Dallas.
RSL's last six-game point streak was a 3-0-4 stretch June 11-July 23.
These teams conclude the season series Aug. 18 in Utah.
In fact, FCD is one of just two teams in the Western Conference -- Real Salt Lake is the other -- that has played at least eight games. RSL leads the league with nine games played while Dallas is tied with three teams in the Eastern Conference (D.C. United, Montreal and Sporting Kansas City) for second-most games played with eight.
And maybe this discussion is especially relevant right now as FCD concludes a stretch in which it plays three times over the course of a week with Saturday’s visit to the Home Depot Center to face reigning MLS Cup champion Los Angeles.
However, Dallas has another stretch looming almost right after this one concludes. With next Sunday’s home match with Colorado, FCD will play three times over a six-day span, so it’s not surprising to hear Dallas gaffer Schellas Hyndman lament the schedule that’s been presented to his club thus far.
“The scheduling, gee, it’s been rough and it’s not going to get any easier. We’ve got another stretch of three games in seven days coming up. So when you do have that type of demand on the players, and the travel and the injuries, you’re just trying to band aid things you haven’t been able to put together,” Hyndman said. “You look at Chicago, they just played their fourth or fifth game while we’re at our ninth. I think we’ve got to look at that closer.”
General thoughts on the match…
I thought we really came out very slow. I thought that first 10, maybe 15 minutes, they had numerous opportunities in our attacking third to create shots and put the ball in the back of the net and we were able to survive. I thought after that we started picking it up, putting a lot of pressure on them, probably the latter 20 minutes of the first half, a lot of crosses, which is something we were talking about. We felt like with (Jamison) Olave out they would have a little trouble adjusting and we came close, but weren’t able to get the goal. We got a PK called. I didn’t see it, but the way the ball went off, I thought there might have been a hand ball.
The foul count was 12 to 5 in the first half and that was a real concern. It was very disruptive and a real concern. I think when Carlos (Rodriguez) went down with a dislocation of the elbow, it must have taken a lot out of the players. You don’t know what that does when a teammate is injured and everybody is looking at it, so I don’t think we had a very good second half, but we had an effort.
On the performance of Chris Seitz…
Chris is a solid keeper. As you know, a couple of years ago, he started for Philadelphia and I think it might have been the wrong place for him, an expansion team, giving up a lot of goals. I think, mentally, he was shot. We were able to pick him up and I think he finally has confidence. Last week when he went in, he wasn’t prepared. Kevin got hurt in the warm-ups, so (Seitz) really wasn’t nervous or scared, he just went in. So I was very interested to see how he would respond in this game, being able to sleep on it and prepare himself mentally and I think that he had a good game.
FC Dallas goalkeeper Chris Seitz
General thoughts on the match…
I think we came out with really good intensity. Towards the end of the first half we were really putting them under pressure. We created a lot of good chances. Defensively, we did well. We limited their chances and they’re a good team. They have been really successful on the road. The draw is a little disappointing for us, but as they say, on to the next one.
Did the early save you were forced to make give you confidence?
Yeah, anytime you get to touch the ball early in a game, you feel more comfortable. All ‘keepers want to get a feel for the ball early. Defensively, we held them to a decent amount of shots. We did pretty well.
Talk about your save on Saborio in the second half.
It was one of those where, you kind of hope he takes a big touch, but he didn’t take one big enough that I could come out and make a play. Brek made one heck of a run back to make his next move predictable for me and that gave me time to come out and close him down. But honestly it all started with Brek making that trek back following a free kick deep in our attacking third of the field.
FC Dallas midfielder Brek Shea
You were attacking for a lot of the first half, what were you able to take advantage of in RSL’s defense?
They crowd the middle so much and play so much in the center that we were able to take advantage out on the flanks and get some good centering passes and crosses off.
Talk about your penalty kick goal
It’s good to get a goal. Doesn’t matter how you get it. I am glad that I was able to covert it and help the team.
Were you glad to get a point out of this match considering all the injuries?
We have some new players, injuries, suspensions… It was good to get a point. I thought we should have won, but it’s good to at least get a point.
FC Dallas forward Jonathan Top
How did it feel to make your debut?
It felt good to get those first minutes in against Salt Lake. We weren’t able to get the win, but everyone worked hard and now we have to focus on our match Saturday against L.A.
What does it mean to you to get playing time?
It means a lot. It means a lot for any of the younger guys to get playing time. Whenever one of us gets time, we are all happy for one another. We’ve worked hard for it and we are always pushing each other. We just need to be ready whenever that time comes.
What did Schellas say to you before you went in?
He said just to play with confidence and work hard – make it difficult for them to play out of the back. That’s what I tried to do.
Was the speed of the game faster than what you were used to?
It was a little faster, but we see that in training every day. I did need to adapt quickly to it but overall I felt fine out there.
Real Salt Lake head coach Jason Kreis
Does having not won in Dallas get into guys’ heads?
I don’t know. That’s a better question for the players. I’m pleased with a point, but I wanted all three. That’s kind of where I am at. We’re pleased with a result. We’re pleased we didn’t lose our third game in a row. With a little bit more and a little bit better, we come out of here with all three.
On the penalty kick call…
I am again disappointed in another referee’s decision. I have not watched the replay yet. For me, there is just no way that can be called a penalty kick. Whether it hits the player’s arm or not, it just seems indifferent. The Dallas player has not even touched the ball so it’s not like they were making an attempt on our goal. Someone who reads the game or is involved with the game more, knows that is never a penalty kick.
What did you do at halftime?
Just a couple of small tactical adjustments. I asked the guys for a little bit more, for a little bit better. This is the second game in a row where we were in a tough spot. We gave up a goal right before halftime and that can be very mentally draining. We stuck together and played a much better second half. I am very pleased with both of our second half responses in our last two games so we’ll see if we can’t stretch that 45 minutes into 90.
Real Salt Lake defender Tony Beltran
On the penalty kick call
I’m going to have to see it again to really comment on it, but just from what I thought happened during the play, I cleared it off of somebody and it came back and barely grazed my elbow. I was pretty disappointed with the call at the time. There is really no chance for me to get out of the way of that ball. I have to check it out again and then I will be more able to comment on it.
Real Salt Lake forward Emiliano Bonfigli (through a translator)
On making a difference in the game right away…
You work hard to get as many minutes as you can and luckily today I was able to get a lot of minutes. I’m proud to be able to come in and score a goal to help the team out and get a point.
Real Salt Lake midfielder Will Johnson
On the goal by Emiliano Bonfigli…
I just turned, saw him making a run and just tried to put it in (Bonfigli’s) path. I think he did the hard part. I’m just happy that we got the goal back and we were able to get a good road point.
Everyone’s really happy for him. He’s been working really hard in training and in the reserve games. Obviously with the Espindola suspension tonight, it was probably more than likely that he was going to get an opportunity to come in. This game is all about taking your opportunity and he’s certainly done that tonight. It’s put him in a good spot for more extended playing time in the future.
On Real Salt Lake being winless in Dallas…
Every game’s different and for whatever reason we haven’t been able to get a win down here, but we’ve played well at times and we’ve had opportunities at times, but it just hasn’t quite happened for us yet. But, we’ll take a road point in Dallas any day. On the road, we just try to get to a point where we give ourselves an opportunity to win. We gave ourselves that opportunity tonight and we’re unlucky not to come out of here with the three points.
Of course, Hyndman has already had to and is currently dealing with a roster depleted by injuries and he has also lost two players to suspension already this year. That being considered, it wasn’t at all shocking to hear the soccer sinsei channel the philosophy of Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington when it came to being without two of your best players.
“Yeah, it’s what we all go through. Whether it’s a suspension here or there’s a card there, it’s something we all go through. Sometimes the referee gets it right and sometimes they don’t get it right. I can’t think of a time when we’ve gone in with our strongest lineup this year, so we’ve lived with suspensions,” Hyndman said. “We’ve lived with injuries and we’re still living with it. I think it all evens out at the end.”
Jason Kreis, who has to be the coolest, smoothest MLS coach in attitude and appearance, was rolling out what was really a "A" team. Pretty much every player was either a current starter, or had significant starting time - minus their keeper Kevin Raynish.
Schellas on the other hand was forced (or was he?) to start with a midfield with a combined number of MLS starts of 48. Kyle Beckerman alone has 231. Just let that soak in for a minute.
Villar, Warshaw, Guara, Avila and Alexander were Dallas' starting five in the midfield, and with all due respect to each of them, none are considered MLS All-Stars or even players that would immediately start for one of the league's better sides.
But Tuesday night the five played an outstanding match the belied whatever initial impression one might have had upon looking at the FCD starting lineup.
Dallas did have their full back line and defense, and that was far more than enough as Salt Lake failed to register a single shot on goal. The heat was an obvious factor on Real as they looked low on energy all match.
Watching Hyndman manage his roster through this month of July will be fascinating. It helps that players like Villar, Warshaw and even Guarda (is there a guy that needed a decent showing any more than him?) stepped up to show their coach and fans that they can be counted on to give the starters a breather.
Hartman: 7 - I think I saw him napping at one point
Loyd: 8 - Hopefully Grabovoy's unpunished assault on Zack doesn't have long term significance.
John: 9 - Absolutely owned RSL all. night. long.
Ugo: 8 - Great night, but a couple of lazy passes here and there
Benitez: 8 - Has Jair ever taken a free kick for Dallas before?
Alexander: 8 - Might be team's most unheralded player
Avila: 7 - Not as involved in attack, but did a lot of great defensive work
Warshaw: 8 - A tremendous rebound from a poor Saturday night showing
Villar: 7 - Might be single most important bench player to get through this stretch of matches
Guarda: 7 - A mixed bag for first 20 minutes, but ended up with a solid performance and he needed that
Chavez: 7 - Defenders must hate Martin
Jackson: 9 - Could we nickname him, "The Phoenix"?
Shea: 7 - The crowd buzzed when he cued up to come on
Wiedeman: 6 - Good to see the kid get time, but looked to quickly lose energy
- USOC Recap: FC Dallas run away with 2-0 win vs. RSL (mlssoccer.com)
Dallas won't likely be able to sneak up on anyone this time.
FCD is within two points of the league lead thanks to a three-game winning streak, but that streak won't be easy to extend Saturday night as it tries to become just the second visiting team out of the last 35 to win at Real Salt Lake.
Dallas (10-4-4) had 50 points last season to finish third in the Western Conference, then surprised both teams ahead of it in the standings -- including RSL -- to make it to the league's championship game.
While Dallas drew a league-high 14 times in 2010 -- nine coming during a 19-game unbeaten run that Real ultimately halted -- this season it's more often than not coming away with three points. Coach Schellas Hyndman's team has won three straight including Saturday's 2-0 victory over Columbus.
Dallas, which hasn't won four in a row since Sept. 26-Oct. 17, 2009, leads MLS with 10 wins, as finishing with the league's best record appears to be a real possibility.
"The Supporters' Shield will be a target for us if we can continue on this run," Hyndman told the team's official website, "but right now I think we are talking a little too early about it.
"Let's get to the playoffs. Let's be one of those top three teams. Now once we get to the playoffs, let's win an MLS Cup."
Dallas can at least briefly overtake Los Angeles -- which hosts Chicago later Saturday -- with a win at Rio Tinto Stadium, but that certainly won't be easy. RSL's 2-1 loss to Seattle on May 28 was its only defeat in its past 34 home games.
It nearly dropped another Monday night against New England after defender Nat Borchers was sent off in the third minute. Salt Lake (7-3-6) battled back from a two-goal deficit before again falling behind, but Fabian Espindola's goal in the 83rd minute secured a 3-3 draw.
"As a coach you have a lot of faith in your group," coach Jason Kreis said. "We've been through so many situations. We've been together so long, we've been through just about situation. Maybe not that one, but just about every other type. That's why I felt like we were going to get through this."
Borchers' red card means he'll miss this match, and that's bad news for RSL's defense. Dallas midfielder Brek Shea has scored in four consecutive matches, while fellow midfielder Jackson has scored in two of his last three.
"The better you play, the more confidence you get," Shea said. "You just get on a roll. I am just on a good roll right now."
Espindola, meanwhile, leads RSL with five goals despite playing in only 11 games. He missed the teams' scoreless draw at Pizza Hut Park on May 22.
Who needs possession and patient passing play when you can stretch your opponent's back line with your speedy forwards, while other end plays swarming, lock-down defense? Dallas conceded ownership of the ball almost 75% of the time, but had three times the shots on goal (7:2).
The great news is that the 4-1 drubbing from Sporting KC appears to have been a one-off affair. While Dallas wasn't necessarily the better team in its 2-1 win over Chivas USA, the team did return to its highly likable high-effort work rate. Movement and pressure from FCD helped create Chivas' numerous turnovers and Dallas' counterattacks.
The Home Depot Center also contains one of the league's biggest pitches (if not the biggest) and that certainly played into Dallas' strategy. Having Castillo and Chavez make wide runs continues to clear space for Shea to move inside. This is a wonderful maneuver and has created multiple chances (if not goals), but should we see someone else other than Brek making those runs into the box? Does Hyndman's plan allow for Jacobson, Hernandez or Alexander to move into that space? If so, it's not happening enough and the only criticism of the plan.
No matter, Brek is the team's most dangerous player and for two weeks in a row has scored goals a few notches higher in skill level than generally seen in MLS. Last week's run-dribble-calmly slot the ball past the keeper was a fantastic display of speed and skill. This weekend's goal showed off a different set of abilities which will continue to grow the kid's stature.
Dallas realizes its shortcomings and has glued together a strategy that makes the most of the remaining parts.
Couple of other notes:
- Can Hyndman revisit the strategy of Ugo taking throw-ins deep down the touchline? I think I counted six attempts at this Saturday night and three of them somehow found their way straight back out, and the others failed to result in possession. I'm not sure what this strategy is, but its not working.
- How different would this team be if they had a forward that could check back and hold the ball? Milton should be this person, but he's lack of speed hurts the team. Should fans expect an addition in July here?
- Is Brek growing out a blonde version of some sort of creepy, tiny 1930's mustache, or was that a band-aide on his lip?
- How great would it be if FCD had white shorts and socks to wear in away matches when the opponent also wears dark shorts/socks? (Chivas, RSL)
Hartman: 8 - Faultless on the goal, another great outing
Loyd: 7 - A strong improvement from last outing, still tends to chase the ball
Ugo: 8: - Throw-ins aside, a good night
John: 7 - Really solid, again. At some point does "unlucky" need to become maybe you don't take that chance and kick out at a shot?
Benitez: 5 - Has to be struggling with knee injury. Looks slower, is getting beat in 50/50's and passing has dropped way off
Alexander: 7 - Really nice match. Such poise on the ball in cramped space, and had one really nice sequence to relieve pressure out of the back. Also thought he was particularly good once team moved to 4-5-1. Needs to cut back on turnovers and have a larger impact on offense
Shea: 8 - See above.
Hernandez: 7 - Led the team in a redeeming performance
Jacobson: 8 - Extra points for two assists; one beautifully placed on purpose, the other beautifully placed even if unintended
Castillo: 6 - So much more effective when attacking from deep
Chavez: 6 - Effort and speed can make up for a lot of crummy decisions
Jackson: 9 - Hey, the decision to be in place was great, but the finish was of a high quality
Match Grade: B Watching Dallas sit, absorb and counter is not the entertaining, beautiful, passing style we came to love in 2010. But the team is winning and finding success with an equally likable level of effort and flashes of skill.
What would have been a snoozer of 90 minutes ended up as 200 minutes of a snoozer with Mother Nature providing the only real excitement in the form of a lighting show. Sadly, there was nothing close to that level of excitement of the field.
Both Dallas and Real gave the rest of the league a reason to feel better about itself. Once both feared league leaders, now each without its playmaker, the teams are now shells of their former selves. Salt Lake actually looks worse for the wear as they have nothing up top in the form of speed to stretch a defense and the playmaker's role is not one that suits Kyle Beckerman. Dallas, on the other hand, has speed to burn but it comes in the form of two players who don't excel at the forward position. Just like last week, chances created with speed go left unspent with poor decision making or crappy passing.
If there's anything that causes Hyndman nightmares it's the stream of quality crosses that fly unattended across the opponent's goal. Dallas just can't seem to get anyone in the box, or specifically, at the far post -- ever.
Dallas' form since Ferreira's injury in Vancouver is a two-sided coin. One side shows a six-game unbeaten streak, 11 out of 15 possible points and nary a goal allowed in about 400 minutes of play. Those are results typically seen from teams in fine, confident form.
On the other side FCD have created a shockingly low number of shots on goal, and surrendered possession. In the matches since Ferreira's injury (including that match in Vancouver) Dallas has averaged a meek 3.7 shots-on-goal, and 39.6 percentage of possession. Neither of those number should strike fear across Major League Soccer. Almost in defiance of the stats, Dallas continuously survives and points are points in MLS no matter how you collect them.
Dallas' defense, and now its strength, is going to undergo more testing with two more matches before week's end; Seattle on Wednesday and the dreaded Dynamo on Saturday, two road matches that will reveal which side of the coin is weighted.
Grades: (5 is an average performance, 10 is a world-class mindbender. Please note in my system, each player is held to a different standard based on his experience, position and expectation. ie: a Luna grade of "5" is probably different that a Milton grade of "5".)
Hartman: 8 -- Strong in the few times when asked to perform.
Jackson: 4 -- Sure, let's go with the "he's getting married" defense of his play of late. And again, got 1,000 percent lucky on a brain-dead tackle.
Ugo: 8 -- Best performance of the season? Strength and commitment has returned.
John: 8 -- Consistent and reliable.
Loyd: 7 -- Getting the message about positioning. Not as influential in attack, but for now, he needs to focus on D.
Alexander: 6 -- Quietly throwing out solid, quality performances. Also displaying some of the team's highest ball skills. Might consider rushing the far post.
Shea: 7 -- The team's only dangerous player, but not dangerous enough.
Hernandez: 6 -- Some poor set pieces.
Jacobson: 6 -- Little moments of attacking starting to show itself.
Chavez: 4 -- Hard to grade because effort is so high, but reality is there are few to no results from all that work.
Castillo: 3 - Not a lot of opportunities.
Luna: 5 -- His one clear chance turned into a wreck of humanity. PK? Meh.
Avila: 6 -- Watching him fight through that one moment gets him a +1.
Warshaw -- N/A.
Match grade: "F" - Slow, disinteresting match with a horrifying low number of real chances topped off with the almost two hour rain delay.
Ed note: Grades are for entertainment purposes only. Do not take them to heart, personally or otherwise. If you don’t like the grades may we suggest instead of only calling the author names and bein’ an anonymous meanie, how about you put your grades and explanation in the comment section below. After doing that, then you can then call the author names and remain anonymous, you just won’t be a meanie. Discourse is good for the soul.
Both teams missing play-makers, David Ferreira for FCD and Javier Morales for RSL, the game was a bit clunky and disjointed, but there was still nice moments to be found. Both teams created chances with FCD getting some golden shots on net that were only kept out by some spectacular saves by Nick Rimando on George John and Andrew Jacobson. Fabian Castillo, Brek Shea, and Andrew Jacobson were all notably good for FCD.
RSL striker Alvaro Saborino did score on a header, but it was ruled offside and called back.
FCD had a chance to snatch victory late in night after the two hour delay when a Zach Loyd cross found Ruben Luna. Luna was knocked to the ground after colliding with a RSL defender, but no penalty was given.
This was the fourth straight shutout for Kevin Hartman to extend the second-longest shutout streak in team history to 399 minutes. It was Hartman's 98th career shutout.
Dallas improves to 5-3-3 on 18 points for 2nd in the West, RSL one point back at to 5-1-2 on 17 points for 3rd in the West.
Schellas Hyndman postgame...
Daniel Hernadnez postgame...
Attendance: 10, 550
RSL – Chris Wingert (caution; reckless tackle) 44
DAL – Jackson (caution; persistent infringement) 53
RSL – Kyle Beckerman (caution; reckless tackle) 58
RSL – Ned Grabavoy (caution; reckless foul) 61
FC Dallas – Kevin Hartman, Zach Loyd, Ugo Ihemelu, George John, Jackson (Bobby Warshaw 83), Brek Shea, Andrew Jacobson, Daniel Hernandez, Eric Alexander (Eric Avila 77), Marvin Chavez, Fabian Castillo (Ruben Luna 72).
Substitutes Not Used: Chris Seitz, Moises Hernandez, Bruno Guarda, Ricardo Villar.
TOTAL SHOTS: 10 (Eric Alexander, Daniel Hernandez 2);
SHOTS ON GOAL: 3 (George John, Andrew Jacobson, Eric Alexander 1);
FOULS: 17 (Andrew Jacobson 5);
CORNER KICKS: 4 (Marvin Chavez 3);
SAVES: 2 (Kevin Hartman 2)
Real Salt Lake – Nick Rimando, Tony Beltran, Jamison Olave, Nat Borchers, Chris Wingert, Ned Grabavoy, Kyle Beckerman, Andy Williams (Collen Warner 72), Will Johnson, Arturo Alvarez (Jean Alexandre 81), Alvaro Saborio.
Substitutes Not Used: Kyle Reynish, Fabian Espindola, Nelson Gonzalez, Robbie Russell, Chris Schuler.
TOTAL SHOTS: 5 (five players tied with 1);
SHOTS ON GOAL: 2 (Kyle Beckerman, Will Johnson 1);
FOULS: 13 (Jamison Olave 3);
OFFSIDES: 4 (four players tied with 1);
CORNER KICKS: 4 (Andy Williams, Kyle Beckerman 2);
SAVES: 3 (Nick Rimando 3)
Referee: David Gantar
Referee’s Assistants: Claudio Badea, Eric Boria
4th Official: Matthew Foerster
Time of Game: 3:43
Weather: Cloudy, 90 degrees
RSL has had to move their game against Philadelphia Union, origionally on April 23rd, to September 3rd because they will be facing Monterrey in the CONCACAF Champions League Final on April 20 and 27. If they win they will be the first MLS club since 2000 to capture a regional club championship and be the first MLS club to participate in the prestigious, seven-team FIFA Club World Cup, scheduled for December in Japan.
Real Salt Lake travels to face reigning Mexican League champion Monterrey next Wednesday, April 20 (8:00 p.m. MT on FOX Soccer and TeleFutura), in the first leg of the two-game, aggregate goals final, and then return home to Rio Tinto Stadium for the decisive second leg on April 27 (8:00 p.m. MT on FOX Soccer and TeleFutura).
Kreis isn't the only one up their doing good things. Despite the club's instance on following through with one of the dumbest ideas in MLS history to retire Kreis' number on July 4th (as far as I know that's still on, I'd love to hear it's not), someone in the RSL promotions department is doing real nice work. This video they made for the rivalry game against Colorado is, dare I say, epic.
Needing to overcome a one-goal deficit in the finale of this two-game aggregate goal series, the defending MLS Cup champion tries to extend its home unbeaten streak to 26 on Saturday night when it faces FC Dallas, which needs only a tie to advance.
Salt Lake (15-5-11) posted 1-0 victories at Rio Tinto Stadium in the first leg in 2008 and '09. This year, it faces elimination after falling 2-1 at Pizza Hut Park in the Western Conference semifinal opener last Saturday.
Despite a goal from Fabian Espindola in the fifth minute, RSL had its 14-match unbeaten streak snapped on goals from substitutes Jeff Cunningham and Eric Avila in Dallas' first playoff game in three years.
Real Salt Lake's last loss was 2-0 at Dallas on July 17.
"I think that our team is at their absolute best when their backs are firmly against the wall, and now that's exactly where we are," RSL coach Jason Kreis told the team's official website.
RSL is also at its best at Rio Tinto, going 11-0-4 this season to extend its MLS-record unbeaten run to 17-0-8 dating to May 16, 2009.
"We want to get that taste out of our mouth from last week and looking forward to Rio Tinto and putting on a good show," defender Chris Wingert said.
In the teams' last matchup in Utah, RSL snapped Dallas' 19-match unbeaten streak -- the longest such run in a single season in MLS history -- with a 2-0 victory Oct. 16.
Ned Grabavoy and Javier Morales scored in that win, but Morales will be unavailable Saturday after picking up a second yellow card for kicking Dallas' Dax McCarty in the chest last week.
A tie away from advancing in the postseason for the first time since 1999, Dallas (13-4-14) will have to contend with the altitude of Rio Tinto, where it's been outscored 9-3 while going 0-3-0.
"I've played twice over there and haven't been able to get a result," said MLS MVP finalist David Ferreira, who has eight goals and a team-high 13 assists. "Hopefully this time will be different. We go in a goal ahead, so we need to play with their emotions because they're going to try to go in and try to score a goal. We're going to go in there and play smart."
Midfielder Atiba Harris didn't Saturday, elbowing Will Johnson and receiving a red card. He will be unavailable for the second leg.
Dallas will also be without forward Milton Rodriguez (groin), who was replaced by Cunningham in the 32nd minute. Coach Schellas Hyndman, though, has plenty of confidence in 18-year-old striker Ruben Luna, who made the 18-man roster for this match.
"Out of our academy players, he's probably the one that could step up the earliest," Hyndman told Dallas' official website. "... we'll see if he gets on the field."
Whoever does will face an RSL club that allowed a league record-low seven goals at home in the regular season and is anchored by defender of the year Jamison Olave.
FC Dallas leads the series with RSL 12-6-1.
The winner of this matchup will either host Seattle or visit Los Angeles in the conference championship match.