SANDY — With Real Salt Lake having some defensive struggles as of late, the team has signed several new defenders in an effort shore up that leaky defense.
With injuries still a concern for RSL's backline against Seattle Wednesday night, the newcomers jumped into the spotlight.
Kenny Mansally and Kwame Watson-Siriboe both made their Real Salt Lake debuts in front of the sellout crowd, and both fared quite well considering the circumstances.
It was the first time since Rauwshan McKenzie and Kyle Reynish made their debuts in August of 2010 that two RSL players made their debuts on the same night.
Watson-Siriboe started in place of Olave in the center of the defense, while Mansally started in place of Tony Beltran on the outside.
Jason Kreis hinted earlier this week that starting multiple defensive players out of position the past couple games might've been a mistake. Wednesday's lineup allowed all of his players to start in their preferred positions.
Despite making his RSL debut, Mansally is no stranger to MLS. He spent six years with New England prior to being released this May and made 89 appearances.
Watson-Siriboe was acquired in a trade with Chicago last week, and likely much more nervous than Mansally. He had zero appearances with Chicago this season prior to the trade, and spent all of 2011 on loan with Tampa Bay of the NASL. During his rookie season with Chicago in 2010 he appeared in 10 games.
"We rolled the dice a little bit on that one and I think he came clean as well," said Kreis.
The gap in experience didn't show as both looked quite comfortable.
Mansally was forced to leave the game midway through the second half with a slight shoulder separation.
A NEW EXPERIENCE: Even though Mansally was making his RSL debut on Wednesday, it wasn't his first experience at Rio Tinto Stadium. Far, far from it.
In fact, he experienced more scoring in his three previous games at Rio Tinto Stadium than most visiting players will in a career.
In 2009 he started and played 90 minutes for New England in a 6-0 loss. In 2010, he was a second-half substitute in another New England thrashing, this time a 5-0 loss. Last year Mansally was a sub again for New England in a wild 3-3 game.
FRUSTRATING RESULTS: Wednesday was the fifth time in franchise history that Real Salt Lake has hosted a Fourth of July game, and incredibly it's still searching for a victory after the scoreless draw with Seattle.
Last season RSL battled New England to a 3-3 draw on the night Jason Kreis had his number retired. Its three previous July 4 games were all at Rice-Eccles Stadium, which included ties against New York and Chivas in 2005 and 2006 respectively, and then a 2-1 loss to Toronto in 2007.
RSL hasn't always sent supporters to the exits frustrated on Independence Day fireworks nights. From 2008 to 2010, RSL hosted games on either July 2 or 3, winning one and tying the other two.
ANOTHER SUSPENSION: On a night Kyle Beckerman returned to the lineup after serving a one-game yellow-card suspension, RSL must now prepare for a match minus another starter.
Fabian Espindola picked up his fifth yellow card of the season in the 86th minute on Wednesday, which means he's suspended for this Saturday's match against visiting Portland.
BACK IN THE SADDLE: Following a one-game hiatus, Ned Grabavoy was back on the field for Real Salt Lake on Wednesday as he replaced Luis Gil in the 62nd minute.
An adductor strain picked up in the loss to San Jose a couple weeks ago forced the midfielder to sit out last weekend's loss at Columbus.
Grabavoy has appeared in 15 of 19 games this season.
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