SANDY — U.S. national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann was at Rio Tinto Stadium on Saturday to watch four of the players he called into camp for next week’s pre-World Cup friendly against Mexico.
The four were Real Salt Lake’s Kyle Beckerman, Nick Rimando and Luis Gil and Toronto’s Michael Bradley.
Gil’s inclusion was the most surprising considering he has just one cap with the national team, but Klinsmann is obviously very fond of the youngster’s potential. Prior to the match, Gil said he was obviously excited to perform in front of the U.S. boss.
“You always want to show a little bit more, but I feel like I’ve just got to do what I’ve got to do. That’s why I feel like he’s called me in for, so I don’t want to change the things I’m doing,” said Gil.
Klinsmann had to like what he saw on Saturday as Gil clinically finished off a chance in the 28th minute that put Real Salt Lake ahead 2-0 against Toronto FC.
RSL midfielder Ned Grabavoy said he’s been very impressed by Klinsman’s willingness to take MLS seriously since taking over the U.S. national team, giving players like Gil an opportunity.
“Jurgen has done an unbelievable job to show respect for this league,” said Grabavoy. “He’s showing faith in the league that there’s good soccer being played every weekend, and players are getting better.”
GARCIA GETS THE NOD: RSL second-year player Olmes Garcia made his 2014 starting debut on Saturday with the injury last week to Joao Plata.
In many ways, it might’ve been his turn in the rotation regardless as coach Jeff Cassar looks to keep a fresh rotation of strikers this season.
“I really wanted to get a rotation of the forwards anyways, and I’m looking at it as an opportunity, because we’re going to need a good rotation of our forwards to be successful this year,” said Cassar.
Last year no Real Salt Lake forward started more than 20 games, with Plata leading the way with 19 starts followed by Robbie Findley (17), Alvaro Saborio (15) and Devon Sandoval (10).
Garcia actually started the fewest games of all RSL strikers last year with just eight.
Garcia’s day almost ended early when he cracked heads with Toronto defender Doneil Henry in the 19th minute, but the Colombian was able to shake it off.
STILL A WORK IN PROGRESS: Toronto FC’s perfect start to the 2014 MLS season evaporated quickly on Saturday with one ill-timed penalty call in the 10th minute.
Despite the setback, Toronto looks well on its way to improving upon last year’s 6-17-11 record and likely securing a playoff berth for the first time in franchise history.
Grabavoy said it wouldn’t be surprising considering the parity in the league from year to year.
“I think teams are aggressively going and spending money because they want to win now,” said Grabavoy. “And I think in this league more so than other leagues, with the parity everyone feels, that no matter where they finish the prior season if they make the right moves and additions they're a season or two away from possibly competing for an MLS Cup, so I think you see teams go out and spend money.”