Real Salt Lake vs. New England Revolution report card

Published: Saturday, May 5 2012 9:22 p.m. MDT

RSL started Saturday night off in great form, doing everything right until three seconds of poor defense left the boys in Cobalt and Crimson wondering how they were suddenly down 1-nil in the 22nd minute. The New England goal sapped their energy for a few minutes but the midfield quickly found their stride and played one of their best team games of the year with terrorizing passing and strong communication up front, earning a goal in the 33rd minute with a terrific Beckerman cross and Saborio finish. But it was Javier Morales' play in the second half that made this one of RSL's most exciting and entertaining of the season. He single handedly kept possession for Real for what seemed to be most of the half showing the Javier Morales fans of the beautiful game where delighted to see once again.

Nick Rimando stopped everything within his reach, including one near impossible shot in the 71st and another in the 72nd minute, but not the one impossible one that got past him in the 22nd minute. He may have come away Saturday night with not one, but two save of the week contenders. Grade: A

Chris Wingert showed Tony Beltran how to hold his position Saturday night. Beltran may be able to run circles around Chris with his athleticism and ball control, but he could still learn a lot from the veteran winger. Chris even made it into the attack on a number of dangerous occasions, another testament to the overall strong offensive play of the midfield. Grade: A-

Nat Borchers quietly played a superb game. His positioning was so strong he was able to make up for a less than stellar game by his partner at center back. Grade: A

Jamison Olave is unarguably one of the most athletic players in MLS today. Saturday night, his athleticism may have been his downfall. He seemed to trust too much in his speed and strength that his positioning was lazy. It showed up most in the fact that he was the most penalized player in the game but had it's greatest impact when he lost Blake Brettschneider with sloppy marking in the 22nd minute on the right angle of the 18-yard box to slip past for a New England goal. He earned a yellow card in the 36th minute for excessive fouls. Grade: C+

Tony Beltran picked up where Jamison Olave left off with poor marking when Blake Brettschneider came off Olave only to slip a rocket top-shelf shot around Tony that Nick Rimando had no chance of saving. His offensive play up the wing until Real was down a man with Will Johnson's red card in the 59th minute did make up for some glaring mistakes on defense though. Grade: B-

Ned Grabavoy is a trooper. He seems to still be suffering from his dislocated rib but it didn't keep him from playing some tough defense, showing up time and again where NE players didn't expect him, and hoofing hard on a number 50/50s to keep possession in favor of Real most of the night. Grade: B+

Kyle Beckerman seemed to be the lynch-pin Saturday night for Real. His perfect cross from the right corner in 33rd minute found Javier Morales who knocked it down right at Alvaro Saborio's foot for Real's first goal. Grade: A

Javier Morales looked to be back to form fans of beautiful soccer everywhere had become accustomed prior to his injury last year with some beautiful passing, tough defense and his trademark fluidity in the midfield. His assist in the 33rd minute may have been shared with Kyle Beckerman, but his impeccable positioning put him in the right place at the right time. His set piece assist to Alvaro Saborio in the 55th minute gave Real it's game winner minutes before Will Johnson was sent off to drop Real to 9 men. His play afterward was even more spectacular nearly winning Real another goal single handedly with his work around the box. Man of the Match. Grade: A

Will Johnson played tough and unyielding defense in the midfield while also playing into a beautiful passing game by the RSL middies. His positioning sometimes feel too tight inside to exploit New England's crowded midfield, but that was his only downfall until he was handed a red card in the 59th minute for flying forward to poke his own ball but with his cleats up. Grade: B

Alvaro Saborio played well Saturday night but he came off a hero due to beautiful play by the RSL midfield, and in particular Javier Morales who help him to two goal, one in the 33rd minute when Morales knocked down a beautiful cross from Kyle Beckerman and another in the 55th minute when his defensive mark completely lost him and Javier Morales dropped a perfect set piece right onto his head for the night's best finish. Grade: A

Fabian Espindola terrorized New England with his pesky runs all night. His run into the box off a beautiful through-ball by Javier Morales in the 28th minute that looked like a sure goal until John Lozano shoved him in the box, sending his shot wide of the goal. Lozano, incredulously, was not called for the shove which appeared to everyone but the referee to be a PK worthy foul. Grade: A-

Jonny Steele came on for Fabian Espindola to fill in for the ejected Will Johnson shortly after his 59th minute red card. The RSL midfield didn't skip a beat, his motor and defensive effort a near mirror image of Will's the rest of the match. Grade: B+

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