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Real Salt Lake notebook: RSL will host U.S. Open Cup 1st-round match

Published: Wednesday, June 15 2011 11:23 p.m. MDT

LEHI — Real Salt Lake began the 2011 season with lofty ambitions of winning four trophies.

Monterrey reduced that pursuit to three a couple of months ago, but on Wednesday RSL learned its fate in its chase for the next piece of hardware.

RSL begins its pursuit of the U.S. Open Cup championship on June 28 when its hosts either Wilmington or Charlotte — lower division teams who meet in a second-round match this Tuesday.

The Open Cup is an annual single-elimination tournament open to professional and amateur teams affiliated with U.S. Soccer. The tournament winner earns one of four automatic berths for the United States into the CONCACAF Champions League.

RSL's all-time record in the Open Cup is 3-6-1, but seven of those matches have been play-in games. The last time it participated in the main draw of the tournament was in 2006 when it was eliminated in the fourth round by Colorado at Rice-Eccles Stadium 1-0.

This year RSL was one of six MLS teams that automatically qualified into the round of 16.

BITTERSWEET RETURN: Canadian midfielder Will Johnson is home earlier than expected.

Canada failed to advance out of group play in the CONCACAF Gold Cup on Tuesday, and though the result was definitely a disappointment for Johnson, the result is great news for Real Salt Lake.

Johnson returned to Utah on Wednesday and RSL coach Jason Kreis said he's hopeful Johnson will be available this Saturday when RSL hosts D.C. United.

Ironically enough, Johnson's Gold Cup aspirations came to an end in the 90th minute courtesy of former RSL player Luis Tejada. The Panama forward was with RSL only briefly in 2007, making one two-minute appearance early in the season. He was the first player released by Kreis when he took over as head coach in May of 2007.

SOLID DEBUT: RSL 17-year-old midfielder Luis Gil made his first MLS start at Philadelphia last Saturday, and looking back on it, Kreis said it was a positive step in the teenager's development.

"He was decent. It was a good performance by a young player in his first start. Was it perfect? No. Could it have been better? Yeah. But it was certainly something to build upon and he should feel confident about what he did," said Kreis.

Gil played 82 minutes against the Union before being replaced by Collen Warner.

"I think it was an important game for him, an important learning process for him, and I think the next time he gets an opportunity I expect he'll build from that," said Kreis.

GETTING A LOOK: Just a few weeks after signing forward Artur Aghasyan, RSL is once again taking a look at three more players this week in practice.

Samir Bengelloun, Chris Agorsor and Sony Norde are all training with RSL in hopes of earning a contract offer. RSL general manager Garth Lagerwey said the club is doing its due diligence to continually improve itself, but admitted salary cap restraints will limit what it can do.

"The issue as much as anything is cap, so we're looking largely at cheap players because our cap situation is pretty tight," said Lagerwey.

Bengelloun is a French left back who's played seven years professionally in Europe, and Lagerwey said RSL is always looking for a left back.

Agorsor is a rookie forward who was released by Philadelphia just a few weeks ago because of a glut of forwards on the roster.

Norde is a forward, a friend of a Jean Alexandre and someone who's played with the Haiti National Team. He's more of a long shot to make the team.

CANCELLATION: Due to a last-minute conflict, the One Republic post-game concert scheduled for this Saturday has been rescheduled for Saturday, Sept. 17.

email: jedward@desnews.com

Twitter: DesNewsReal

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