Real Salt Lake traveled to Panama to face Tauro FC in CONCACAF action on Tuesday evening. The Claret-and-Cobalt emerged victorious from the affair after being awarded a Penalty Kick in the 92nd minute with a final score line of 1 – 0.
Alvaro Saborio stepped to the spot to take the PK he earned when the young Tauro goalkeeper, Villareal, took Sabo down inside the box. Despite picking up a shoulder injury on the play Sabo slotted his shot home on the right post. He appeared to visibly be in pain on the shot and the amount of pace on the ball was not his norm. Villareal guessed correctly, diving to the right post. He was able to get a hand on the ball and nearly pushed it wide but the shot ended up in the back of the net and gave RSL a much needed three points just seconds before the final whistle.
Overall the match was an improvement in form for RSL who saw some players return to their starting lineup. Defender Jamison Olave, back from injury started the match and played a full 90 minutes. Fabian Espindola also started the match after having not started the last 4 RSL matches. Captain Kyle Beckerman missed the match due to the red card he received in the home match against Tauro FC.
ReAL did create some chances on goal in the first half but did struggle to put any quality shots on frame. Several players had chances but lacked for clinical finishing, including Will Johnson, Javier Morales and Alvaro Saborio. Fabian Espindola was a bright spot during the first half and through most of the match, providing a much-needed spark of offensive creation and some very adept service into the box.
Real Salt Lake started the second half looking like they were on a mission, a mission for goals. They began to gel around the box and put several quality shots on frame, testing the Tauro net minder.
Youngsters Luis Gil and Sebastian Velasquez come on in the second half as substitutes and provided a notable spark in the offensive attack generating from the midfield. Gil almost lashed home a Sabo layoff in the 66th minute at the edge of the box. Unfortunately, Villareal would come up with a big time save. Saborio tried to chase down and shoot the ensuing rebound, in the process taking down a Tauro defender. The center official harshly rewarded Sabo with a yellow card for his actions. Sabo will unfortunately miss the next RSL CCL home game against Herediano due to yellow card accumulation.
Much like the RSL vs. Tauro match at Rio Tinto Stadium, Tauro keeper Villareal would come up big several times keeping his side in the match.
In the later minutes with the score line at a stalemate of 0 – 0, RSL grew desperate, pushing most of their numbers forward trying to get a goal. This tactic left our defensive third very exposed and lead to a couple of tense moments in the final minutes of the match.
In the 90th minute RSL found themselves in a difficult 2 on 5 situation on a Tauro counterattack. The speedy Olave was able to cut out the attack and a shot on goal, deflecting the shot wide of the net.
In the 91st minute Nick Rimando found himself alone with 3 counterattacking Tauro players. Nick nearly gave us all a heart attack when he came out of his box, well past the penalty area to break up the attack, then quickly returning to his line to block a shot on goal. It was a difficult decision for Nick to make but in the end he made a huge play to keep the shut out.
This win helps place RSL’s destiny in the CCL group stage into their own hands. RSL is now level in points (6) and goal differential (2) with CS Herediano in their CCL group but Herediano has a game in hand on RSL. RSL will play their final CCL group stage match against Herediano at Rio Tinto Stadium on October 23rd.
This final match is a must win for RSL; they also need to try and run up the score against Herediano to distance themselves on goal differential. Herediano plays Tauro at home on September 25. If Herediano losses or draws to Tauro these results would leave RSL in a good position to take the group in October and advance to the knock out stages next spring. If Herediano wins at home against Tauro, RSL will absolutely need a win at home against Herediano and will need to do everything possible to improve the goal differential.
For those of you who have followed my RSL 2012-2013 CONCACAF coverage, I have previously highlighted 9 keys I feel will be vital to their success in the CONCACAF. Below is a quick recap of how I feel the team did tonight in this regards.
- Start Strong – Check
- Not Underestimating the Opponents Match Fitness – Check
- Not playing injured players too soon – Check, Olave looked good on his return and played a solid 90 minutes.
- Center Back Deficiency – Check, With Olave’s return our usual CB pairing of Borlave provided excellent defensive work all night.
- Do Not Underestimate the Foe –Check
- Officiating –We did not play as physical as a typical MLS match, often being careful to not draw a foul. I think we learned from our first two CCL matches. Unfortunately, Sabo picked up a soft yellow and will miss the final CCL group stage match as a result.
- Midfield Possession and Sharper Passing – Check
- Offensive Aggressiveness – Check, RSL dominated the tempo of the match. They did however struggle for some sharp offensive creativity. RSL needs to involve more players and number in the attack moving forward to be more successful in this aspect.
- Finishing Chances –If RSL lacked sharpness in any area tonight it was at finishing chances. The score could have been 4 or 5 to 0 had we been more clinical at placing our shots on frame in difficult positions for the keeper to save. This is still something we can work on moving forward.
Match day is always a special day but especially when we walk away with a three points! Believe!
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