Brian Nicholson, Deseret News
Real Salt Lake vs. Chicago Fire Report Card
Real Salt Lake looked like it might bounce back just fine from the CD United debacle last week, taking the field with confidence and composure Saturday night at Rio Tinto Stadium against the Chicago Fire, one of the East's worst teams. But oh how quickly things can change on a soccer pitch. By the 11th minute Chicago had scored and RSL captain Kyle Beckerman had been ejected for a bone-headed forearm shiver on Chicago's Daniel Paladini. RSL played the victim the rest of the night and never regained enough composure to really challenge Chicago on its own home field while the Fire's Marco Pappa followed in the footsteps of Dwayne De Rosario from last week and bagged a hat-trick. Oh, and by the way, a guy named Javier Morales took the field for the first time since May 4th after rehabbing a broken leg and dislocated ankle. An inauspicious return for RSL's star midfielder.
Nick Rimando had two fine saves in the first half and a couple in the second half but sadly saw three find their way to the back of his net due to an uncharacteristically porous back line. With one possible save getting past him - Pappa's second, (granted, it would have probably made save of the week had he made it), there's not much else he did wrong. This one can be pinned undoubtedly on poor defending in the final third and a 10 man team (despite what fans might have thought of the officiating). Grade: B+
Robbie Russell struggled the first half, getting caught ball watching on Chicago's first goal and struggling to keep up with Chicago's speedy right side. Jason Kreis had seen enough by halftime and subbed him out in favor of the fresh legs of Chris Schuler. Too bad Schuler proved to be no better at stopping the Chicago onslaught. Grade: C+
Jamison Olave got caught without inside help when in the 10th minute Kyle Beckerman broke off his man to double team the ball. He was too slow both on and off the double-team and ended up leaving Olave in a 2-on-1 situation that Chicago played perfectly to give Marco Pappa his first goal of the night. Besides the one goal scored against him, Olave was his typical solid presence, and was especially strong in the air on Chicago goal kicks and the few over the top tries by the fire. Grade: B
Nat Borchers couldn't seem to catch a break Wednesday night. He played with his typical composure for all but one play - the one that gave Chicago their insurance goal. It happened in the 28th minute when he was caught thinking for a half-second too long, giving Chicago midfielder Marco Pappas just enough room to get a shot off that Nick Rimando once again had little chance of stopping. To be fair, Nat was forced into this almost impossible position due to poor marking on the Right line by Chris Wingert and an out of position Yordany Alvarez in the midfield. Grade: B
Chris Wingert played with a massive cast on his left arm. Despite hampering his one try at a throw in, it didn't seem to bother him… Unless that's the reason he failed to mark Marco Pappa in front of the goal in the 28th minute to leave Nat Borchers alone with too little time to close the gap on the charging Fire midfielder who ended up scoring his second goal of the night. It wasn't his only failure at marking around the 40 yard mark and Chicago seemed to find ample opportunities all night along the right side to get off too many dangerous crosses and shots. Grade: C+
Andy Williams didn't have much gas left in the tank by the 70th minute since he'd let his engine run at full throttle every minute beforehand and seemed to be everywhere on the right side of the midfield, challenging every ball and somehow finding most of the Chicago midfield going to ground at one time or another in his wake. Bama's only knock Wednesday night comes from having left nothing in the tank for the final 20 minutes. Grade: A-
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