PHOENIX — Real Salt Lake ended its 15-day training camp in Arizona on Tuesday afternoon by drawing 1-1 with D.C. United in a 90-minute scrimmage contested at the Reach 11 Sports Complex.
"Like any preseason game there were some good things and bad things. I think we probably allowed D.C. United a bit too many good looks, but there were still some good things that came out of it," said RSL head coach Jason Kreis. "We've been very focused on defending during this camp, so while we didn't create too many chances we can't be too critical about that right now."
Unlike the chippy start RSL saw in its opener last Friday against Vancouver, there was a bit more love between the two sides for this Valentine's Day affair. But that would soon be interrupted with three cards issued in the middle of the opening stanza, beginning with United DF Emiliano Dudar's hard challenge on FW Fabian Espíndola in the 20th minute. RSL would unfortunately see a card of a different color seven minutes later, as DF Samir Bengelloun was issued a straight red card for a diving tackle on United MF Andy Najar on the sideline.
After Espíndola was again fouled in the 33rd minute, RSL was allowed to return to full strength, with Wes Knight taking over on the left side of defense and Terukazu Tanaka flipping sides to man the right flank. RSL scored off the ensuing restart, with DF Jamison Olave nodding home MF Ned Grabavoy's pinpoint free kick service at the corner of the six, putting the Utah side up 1-0. United created a quality chance to pull even in the 41st minute, but MF Danny Cruz's 25-yard shot bounced off the left post and away from danger, allowing RSL to carry the lead into the halftime break.
Kreis elected to keep most of his line-up intact to start the second half, the move paying off with the Claret-and-Cobalt keeping most of the possession at the start of the period. However, no chances of note would be created until both teams made a "line change" at the hour mark.
Defensive pressure by the RSL duo of MF Jonny Steele and DF Diogo de Almeida on the sideline in the 66th minute created RSL's best chance of the half, as a forced turnover and a pair of quick passes found the ball at the feet of MF Sebastian Velasquez. The rookie cut left towards the top of the area and unleashed a screaming left-footer from 25 yards out that sailed just a foot over the crossbar.
From there on out it was nearly all D.C. United, with the Black and Red able to create a turnover of their own into a tally in the 77th minute, when Lance Rozeboom picked off a pass 45 yards from goal and took two touches before his shot from 25 yards skipped between RSL GK Lalo Fernandez and his right post to even the contest. United FW Alfredo Martins saw two shots go begging in the final 10 minutes, allowing RSL to register its second 1-1 draw in as many contests this spring.
"The energy of the second group was really good for the first 10 minutes; they got out there and sprayed some passes around and created a really good chance the first few minutes," said Kreis. "But they lost their way a little after that and for the last 20 minutes it was all D.C. United. They put us under pressure and we naively tried to play out of that rather than release the pressure a bit and just play it into their half of the field."
RSL training camp notes:
The changes at the hour mark included the scrimmage debut of captain Kyle Beckerman, the 30 minutes of action all part of the plan to slowly work the veteran midfielder back from an adductor strain.
Many of Beckerman's fellow vets were not able to see the field, as defenders Tony Beltran, Nat Borchers and Chris Wingert, midfielders Will Johnson and Javier Morales, and forward Álvaro Saborío remained on the sidelines to gain additional rest and/or work their way back to full strength with the RSL athletic training staff.
RSL-Arizona Academy defender Carlos Salcedo again took the field for the first team, his 30 minutes of play today alongside fellow center back Leone Cruz complementing the 60-plus he logged last Friday against Vancouver.
One roster move was made on Thursday, as trialist MF Mike Banner departed the RSL camp to head overseas for a trial in Finland. RSL, whose preseason roster now stands at 29 players, is expected to make more cuts in the upcoming days in advance of the second leg of the preseason.
After returning to Utah immediately following the contest, the Claret and Cobalt will be allowed to enjoy a pair of off days before getting back to work with training sessions on Friday, Saturday and Sunday (times and locations to be announced today).
After its brief Utah stay, it's back down to Arizona for another fortnight starting on Monday, Feb. 20, this time to participate in the inaugural Desert Diamond Cup preseason tournament in Tucson. The Claret and Cobalt will take on fellow MLS sides New York Red Bulls (Feb. 22), L.A. Galaxy (Feb. 25), and New England Revolution (Feb. 29) in round-robin play before finishing out the tourney on March 3 in the championship or consolation round.
A week later, RSL will again take on the Galaxy, this time at The Home Depot Center as a part of MLS First Kick 2012, presented by Dick's Sporting Goods (8:00 p.m. MT, live on ABC4 and ESPN 700).
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