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Houston at Real Salt Lake: Report card

By Landon Walters

For the Deseret News

Published: Sunday, May 15 2011 9:44 a.m. MDT

Nick Rimando

Rimando was again his normal self between the pipes for RSL against the Dynamo. Credited with five saves, Rimando and his backline held Houston scoreless in picking up the team’s fourth clean sheet in only seven MLS games. Grade: A+

Robbie Russell

Russell appeared to be regaining some of his form after battling a tweaked hamstring earlier in the year. He was solid in possession and closed down on the attacking players well for the most part. A couple missed touches and the only yellow card for RSL didn’t help, but he went the full 90 minutes. Grade B+

Jamison Olave

“The Verb” as he is known among fans was one of the big reasons that Rimando was able to keep the shutout. Olave draw three fouls on the attacking players of the Dynamo in RSL’s third of the field. He also showed his explosive speed in closing the ball and was vital to the defense as he always is. Grade A+

Nat Borchers

Borchers proved yet again how dominating RSL’s defense can be when he and Olave are on the field in central defense together. He put in another solid performance that the fans have come to expect from him, and his amazing tackle late in the game in a 2-on-2 situation preserved the draw for the home team. Grade A+

Chris Wingert

Wingert was instrumental on both sides of the field for RSL against Houston often pushing forward to assist in possession and also tracking back into his normal role along the outside of the defense and helping to win the ball when needed. He registered a shot in the game, but it was off target. Grade A-

Kyle Beckerman

Beckerman is always strong in his defensive midfield role, and Saturday night was no different from the captain. He made smart passes to his teammates and kept possession when necessary, often helping spring a teammate for a run into the attacking third. Grade A

Will Johnson

Johnson and his seemingly never-ending energy were all over the field Saturday playing box-to-box, joining the attack often and also falling back to defend frequently. He played nearly the entire way for RSL and registered a shot. He may be one main piece for RSL as it learns to play without Morales for the next several months. Grade A+

Ned Grabavoy

Grabavoy seemed to be slightly off in the midfield for RSL but only slightly. He had good energy for the entire match, but gave up some possessions too easily on occasion as well. He did record two shots but they weren’t much of a threat. Grade B+

Collen Warner

Warner got his first home start of the year in the attacking midfield role, which was vacated by playmaker Morales. The young player did an admirable job of filling in, but seemed a bit sluggish in the beginning of the game and didn’t get RSL into the attack as easily. That will come with more time with the first-choice players though. Grade B-

Alvaro Saborio

Saborio continued to struggle with his touch, registering six shots. Unfortunately, only three of those were on target and none troubled the keeper. He did show a clinical finish that was whistled as offside and he also committed three fouls that gave possession back to the Dynamo. Grade B

Arturo Alvarez

Alvarez got the start in place of an injured Fabian Espindola on top of the 4-4-2 formation RSL employs. He made some good runs and showed some nifty moves to get around the Houston defense but missed some passes and his one shot on goal was easily saved. He is expected to be a key part of the attack and showed that he may be so before too long if he can continue to connect passes and begin to finish his chances. Grade B+

Substitutes

Andy Williams

Williams continues to play much younger than his age, displaying constant energy and ball-winning capabilities in the midfield, which may be why he was the first substitute off the bench for RSL coach Jason Kreis. His shot late in stoppage time was just wide of the post for a potential winner, but he looked very comfortable on the pitch for the time that he was on. Grade A-

Jean Alexandre

Alexandre was able to win some tackles in the middle of the field, but also seemed to give up possession to the Dynamo, which led to counter-attacking opportunities. His touch was off a bit, but he did nothing that cost the team in the long run. Grade B-

Nelson Gonzalez

Gonzalez saw his first action for RSL this season and showed potential to be a choice for the line-up every week while Morales is on the mend. His service into the box was something that the RSL attack had been lacking recently, and while it was not always on target, it showed a threat from wide parts of the field. If his fitness can improve, he may be able to help the team even more. Grade B+

Landon Walters is a history and political science major currently studying at Salt Lake Community College and is an avid sports fan. He can be reached at mavericksoccer_22@hotmail.com or on twitter at www.twitter.com/LandawgDew

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