Real Salt Lake report card: Midfield gassed by end, enough to hold off Seattle
Luis Gil (MID) — Gil finally found a rhythm Saturday night that had been apparent only in spurts in the offensive midfield position as he's started the season in place of the injured Morales. His passing in the midfield was spot on and his touch was excellent. His efforts were rewarded in the 32nd minute when Ned Grabavoy volleyed a perfectly weighted ball to Gil who, unmarked, dove full-force to put the ball in the back of the net for Real's second goal. GRADE: A, Man of the Match
Ned Grabavoy (MID) — Grabavoy does a lot of unsung work for RSL. Saturday was not one of those nights. He had more than a handful of moments when fans couldn't help but notice him, his first coming in the 32nd minute when he made a spectacular 30-yard run into the box and was on the receiving end of a Devon Sandoval dummy that allowed him to get a shot off that nearly made goal. He was simply inspiring in the 34th minute when his off balance falling parry off a Velasquez corner ended up perfectly weighted and at the perfect height for Luis Gil to put a full-body diving header past Gspurning for Real's second goal. GRADE: A
Devon Sandoval (FWD) — Sandoval is big, he's imposing and he has a reasonably good touch — a lot like another holding-striker in Salt Lake, Saborio. Sandoval had a terrific far post run in the 6th minute and was rewarded for his efforts with Mansally's perfect 30-yard cross where he touched it with his right foot and got off a point-blank shot inside the 6-yard box, which Gspurning parried away. Sandoval spent the night impressing with very good passing and physical post-up play from which he managed some very good passes, three of which resulted in shots on goal. GRADE: A-
Robbie Findley (FWD) — Findley started the game hot with a break down the left side and into the box to test Gspurning who picked up where he left off in last year's playoffs, with a spectacular kick-save while diving to his left. But Findley's goal in the 8th minute not only started the scoring, it broke a 408 minute scoreless streak against Seattle. And it was goal-of-the-week stuff — with Findley collecting a rebound off Gspurning, touched it with his right foot, jumped over Gspurning and tapped the ball in with his left. Welcome back Findley! And good-bye — Findley went down in the 12th minute with a left adductor strain and left the field moments later, replaced by Joao Plata. GRADE: A
Joao Plata (FWD, SUB 12') — Plata gave Seattle fits from the moment he entered the game in place of Findley in the 12th minute. He was dangerous all night long, but none more so than in the 46th minute when he made a blistering run into the box with the ball bouncing along beside him off an over the top cross, which he measured perfectly and sent a burner goal-ward only to be turned away by Gspurning's reaction knee-save. Plata had another point-blank shot at Gspurning in the 55th minute thanks to a delightful Sandoval flick but Plata went for power over placement and Gspurning batted his shot out of the air. GRADE: B+
Javier Morales (MID, SUB 62') — Saturday was Morales' season opener for RSL when he was subbed in for Gil. And, he was a little rusty. He was called on three times for set pieces, one met the standard fans are used to seeing. Some of his passes lacked pace and accuracy and it was clearly evident he was slower after several months rehabbing his surgically repaired knee. Despite the lackluster start, Morales was still dangerous. He had his best opportunity to score in the 83rd minute when he steamed into the box to find another perfectly placed Sandoval flick-on right at his feet. Just as he went for goal, Seattle's Djimi Traore took him down from behind. A no call from the referee left Morales kneeling at the penalty spot wondering what just happened. GRADE: B+
Lovell Palmer (DEF, SUB 81') Palmer came on in place of a winded Mansally. Palmer held his own and played a key role in helping Real finish off the night with the win. GRADE: A-
Chris Higbee is the General Manager of DeseretNews.com.
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