Real Salt Lake-Chivas USA: Report Card

Published: Saturday, March 24 2012 9:21 p.m. MDT

Alvaro Saborio of Real Salt Lake takes a shot on goal ahead of James Riley of Chivas USA during their match up at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy Saturday, March 24, 2012.

Brian Nicholson, Deseret News

Jason Kreis started the same eleven players for the third time in as many games for the first time in 122 games. That's since March 11, 2009 for those not interested in doing the math. Chivas, who was 0-2 on the season coming into the game and seem to be struggling mightily to find an identity, came out in a 4-5-1 formation, clearly hoping to keep Real's deadly midfield from doing their thing. While Real was hampered all night by the crowded midfield, they found a number of scoring opportunities but never could find the back of the net. A Casey Townsend goal in the 72nd minute proved just enough to lift the Goats past Real in their first loss of the season.

Nick Rimando has always been known for his field vision and distribution, but Saturday night he was special. His 40 yard throw over the head of a defender and right at the feet of Ned Grabavoy in the fourth minute for a breakaway down the right side was a pure genius. His double save on a corner kick in the 15th minute was the play of the game. But his decision not to punch the ball away in the 72nd minute leaving it bouncing around the box for a Casey Townsend goal marred what was shaping up to be a stellar night.

Grade: B+

Jamison Olave lit up the RioT Saturday night. With smiles. His fearlessness, strength and speed made RSL's back line as much fun to watch as any of the fancy footwork in the midfield or the "what's-going-to-happen-next" world of the forward line. It's impossible for Real fans not to smile at their good luck. Jamison was called on more often than usual to distribute the ball out of the back line and for the most part it matched the quality of his "eraser" like defensive prowess.

Grade: A-

Chris Schuler is clearly finding a home as a starter for RSL. Once again, his work in the air was superb and his positioning almost Nat Borchers like. His only clear failure of the game was a shank shot right in front of the goal in the 49th minute that could have been the equalizer with a better effort. That said, Jason Kreis has got to be very pleased to have three starting center backs available with Nat back in the 18 for the first time during the season. Chris had a ridiculous yellow card pulled on him in the 12th minute in perhaps the worst call of the season against RSL.

Grade: B+

Chris Wingert played his best game of the season Saturday night. his defense was as good as we've seen but it was his offense out of the backfield that shined, showing that he's heard Jason Kreis' call for his wingers to play more of an attacking role. It was Wingert's efforts primarily that kept Real on the attack through the final ten minutes of what looked it might turn into another late rally from the Crimson and Cobalt. But it was not to be.

Grade: A-

Tony Beltran was called on less often than Wingert as Chivas seemed intent on running most of their offense through the left side. When he was called on, he was solid, not only winning balls, but using his excellent foot skills to give RSL an edge in the possession game. Sadly, his crosses into the box, especially in the final minutes of the game left much to be desired and while Wingert was superb from his side, Tony's were best left unremembered.

Grade: B+

Kyle Beckerman and Oswaldo Minda battled in the midfield all night long. Minda found his way into Kyle's head with his physical play and while Kyle was able to maintain composure, it clearly took a toll in the second half as Kyle seemed slightly knocked off balance when it came to quarterbacking the midfield attack.

Grade: B

Luis Gil was called on to scrap his way through a very messy midfield, which he did admirably. He found his way into a handful of dangerous offensive opportunities, but never really found the pace he'd shown earlier in the season. Luis was subbed out in the 70th minute for Jonny Steele.

Grade: B

Ned Grabavoy found early opportunities to break through Chivas crowded five man midfield, his best came in the 21st minute when he placed a ball right at Fabian Espindola's feet for a blistering crack that Chivas' goalie Dan Kennedy parried out for a corner.

Grade: A-

Sebastian Velasquez was not as sharp as he looked in the first two games. His passing was less precise and his positioning seemed thrown off by Chivas 4-5-1 formation which he never quite adjusted to during most of the first half. But his dust up with Oswaldo Minda in the 44th minute seemed to breath new life into him. It might have been fun to see how he would have come out in the second minute had he not been subbed out for Javier Morales.

Grade: B-

Paulo Jr was hot and cold Saturday. At times he seemed wound up ready to do something exciting and others his youth came shining through - like the boneheaded offside he earned in the 14th minute by sprinting from ten yards offside back into the field of play to take a pass. He was subbed out at halftime for Alvaro Saborio.

Grade: B-

Fabian Espindola was just as pesky as he normally is Saturday, but sometimes the Soccer gods are less accommodating and it seemed any tiny bugaboo that could hamper him did the whole game. He had some great scoring opportunities, including a terrific blast in the 21st minute and a couple of diagonal runs that turned into dangerous crosses across the box, but Saturday was just not his night.

Grade: B+

Javier Morales made his way onto the field at the half in place of Sebastian Velasquez. Aside from two very dangerous set pieces (a corner and a cross) that both put RSL players in scoring positions, his play was a little tentative, showing less defensive energy than we've seen from Javi in the past.

Grade: B

Alvaro Saborio made exactly the impact Jason Kreis was hoping for when he was subbed in for a floundering Paulo Jr at halftime. He nearly found the net twice and sailed another over the bar on a turnaround volley in the 85th minute. Chivas' pressure in the midfield was just too much for Javier Morales and the rest of the middies hoping to give Alvaro a cleaner shot on goal.

Grade: A-

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