Real Salt Lake beat Philadelphia 2-1 Saturday night at Rio Tinto, but it could have easily been 4 or 5 to 1 had a handful of Fabian Espindola, Kyle Beckerman or Andy Williams shots been a few inches closer to goal. It got the win, but to start making a run at the Supporters Shield RSL is going to have to do better at converting when goal scoring opportunities present themselves.
Nick Rimando - Nick wasn't able to maintain the clean sheet Saturday night as Philly midfielder Sebastian Le Toux pounded a power shot through his outstretched left arm into the left side of the net when Tony Beltran left him unmarked in the 30th minute of the game. Nick would be the first to say the save attempt wasn't good enough but it's tough to blame him when facing a 70 MPH shot while already stretched out for the hockey save. Nick did have one very good save going to ground off a Justin Mapp shot in the 60th minute and cut out a number of crosses that were destined for unmarked Union players. Grade: B
Tony Beltran - Tony is usually more of a finesse defender but Saturday night he was more bulldog than beguiler. He was excellent except for the one glaring mistake that gave Philadelphia their only score of the night when he let Sebastian Le Toux sprint unmarked into the box to connect off a Justin Mapp cross. Grade: B-
Jamison Olave - Olave was in a zone Saturday night. Might have been his missing compadre in the middle that spurred him on. Whatever it was, it seemed every quality ball Philadelphia played into the box in the second half was either picked off by Nick Rimando or played out by Olave. Philly gave him ample opportunities to show his speed and strength and the big Colombian put on an exhibition. Grade: A
Chris Schuler - filled in admirably for the suspended Nat Borchers who was sitting out due to a red card against Chivas USA. While he made one or two rookie mistakes, the rest of the defensive back-line was solid enough to fill the holes. Otherwise, his defensive positioning was good. And whatever mistakes he might have felt the need to atone for were surly cleared up by his header goal that came off a perfect corner by Kyle Beckerman in the 26th minute. Grade: B+
Robbie Russell - Robbie was not quite his usual self even coming from his usual right winger position. He never really gave Sebastian Le Toux or Danny Mwanga much of an opportunity to make a play on him when they were switched to his side. But Justin Mapp was another matter, putting numerous quality crosses into the box while being defended by Robbie. He seemed on the path to better play in the second half when he went down with back spasms. He spent the last 20 minutes of the game hobbling around the pitch and was able to keep it together relatively well until going down in the 93rd minute without being able to get back into the game. New signee Blake Wagner replaced him. Grade: B-
Andy Williams - Andy played the entire 90 minutes and played his role exactly as he's done since starting for Real in their first season of existence - while floating like a butterfly and stinging like a bee. He quietly racked up two very dangerous shots and played the kind of disruptive defense in the midfield that makes a team wonder why they just can't generate any continuity. Grade: B+
Kyle Beckerman - RSL fans said a collective thank you to Kyle Beckerman for staying home from the U.S. National Team call-up. In the 18th minute he played a short corner to Paulo Jr. who played it back to him with space to come around to the top-left corner of the 18 yard box, deke a defender then put perhaps his best score of the season into the back of the net with a rocket right footer. Pure Beckerman. He's making a case for team MVP and his assist to Schuler in the 26th minute certainly didn't hurt. Grade: A
Luis Gil - Gil struggled to find the flow he's shown the past few games. His passes were just off and his movement off the ball was not as crisp. Not enough to keep the young center midfielder from playing again, but still not enough to earn starting minutes in every game over the likes of Ned Grabavoy and Will Johnson. Grade: B-
Collen Warner - Warner has been something of a disappointment this season. Not because he hasn't shown shades of brilliance, but because he's shown shades of brilliance. It's clear what he can become if he chooses. Saturday night might have been the night he chose to accept the challenge. His defense must have made Jason Kreis wish he hadn't pulled him when Real seemed unwilling to close out the last 10 minutes of the game with gusto. His touch as always was very good but it was his much improved passing that made the difference Saturday. Still much to prove, but he seems to be on the right track, finally. Grade: B+
Paulo Araujo Jr. - Fans were delighted to see Paulo Jr. for the first time in five months and he showed better fitness than might have been expected. It was a nice surprise to see some chemistry between Paulo Jr. and Fabian Espindola. He recorded an assist off his pass back to Beckerman on the short corner in the 18th minute. Not bad for his first game back. Grade: B
Fabian Espindola - Espindola continued his terrific form Saturday night by making play after play that kept Philly on their heels and the ball in front of their goal. In perhaps his best play, Fabi took one for the team in the 38th minute when he used his face to bring down a poor switching pass by Philadelphia right in front of their box that gave him an open lane to the goal. His chip over the keeper went wide right, and was indicative of his night. Jaw dropping plays with no pay-off. He might not have the goals to show it, but Saturday showed that Javier Morales is not the only Argentine star on this team. Grade: A
Cody Arnoux - Arnoux saw his RSL debut Saturday night when he was subbed in at the 66th minute for Paulo Jr. and immediately made a positive impact. His fresh legs and ability to win the ball at midfield created a couple of opportunities for RSL's other striker, Fabian Espindola and showed that the erstwhile Everton trainee could be a very nice surprise find for Garth Lagerway and company. Grade: B+
Ned Grabavoy - It may have been the timing, but when Grabavoy joined the fray, it seemed as though Real lost some momentum. While he may have been asked to play deep by Kreis, Grabavoy's deep positioning along with that of the RSL defensive line made for a few uneasy minutes near the end of the game when Philadelphia was allowed to maintain too much possession in the final third of the field. Real bent but never broke so perhaps Grabavoy did just exactly what was needed in his first game back from injury since late June. Grade: B
Blake Wagner - Blake Wagner was signed by Real Salt Lake a few days after Chris Wingert went down with his broken wrist. He made his RSL debut for the ailing Russell less than a minute before the final whistle. Grade: Incomplete
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