RSL report card: Strikers receive top marks in win over Rapids
Chris Wingert rarely unleashes, but the 17th minute saw RSL's best attempt so far in the game as Wingert blasted one from 35 yards out that Colorado's Clint Irwin did well to turn away. His defense was spot on, Saturday as well, including the chest-out in the 56th minute that kept an Attinella miss from finding Deshorn Brown alone in front of the goal.
With Beckerman having been called up to the 30-man USMNT World Cup roster, Cole Grossman will have an opportunity to show his mettle, most likley for the next couple of months. Most pundits believe Beckerman is a shoe-in for the 23-man roster to be named June 2. Luke Mullholland continues to score goals, get assists and keep a rehabbed Luis Gil on the bench.
Luke Mullholland has been not only one of the surprise signings for RSL this year, but for the entire league as well. He's the fourth-leading scorer for RSL with four goals, and is tied with Beckerman for assists, with two apiece. Saturday night was another solid performance for the NASL product.
Javier Morales earned his team-leading fifth assist Saturday when he found Plata for the home side's opening goal. He earned his fourth score of the last two games and the season in the 50th minute when he sent a PK decisively into the upper netting. His yellow card for taking a dive in the box in the 64th minute was the only black mark on an otherwise stupendous performance. Man of the Match.
Cole Grossman was shaky filling in for Beckerman. Not totally unexpected when considering that Saturday was his first start this seasons. His yellow card in the first half was a newbie mistake, and sometimes his decisions were a little more dragged out than we're used to seeing with Beckerman. Too many passes were dangerously off target, and his positioning will need some work if RSL coach Jeff Cassar intends to make him Beckerman's official replacement during World Cup play. Saturday was a bit of Grossman's baptism by fire.
Ned Grabavoy is exactly the sort of soccer player coaches love: consistent, gutsy and indefatigable. He was inches away from RSL's second goal in the 30th minute, but for the second game in a row, went right at the keeper in a 1-1 situation inside the box.
Luis Gil (Sub 89th) subbed for Plata.
John Stertzer (Sub 92th) for Morales.
Sebastian Velasquez (Sub 95th) for Mullholland.
Sandoval filled in for Saborio who is on Costa Rican National Team duty. Plata filled in beside him giving RSL the familiar post-up and lightening tandem Saborio brings beside Plata.
Devon Sandoval is surprisingly deft. His joint assist in the 24th minute was eye-opening as he brough a lovely pass from Beltran down with one foot and touched it right into Morales' run to make his assist to Plata fluid and simple — just like it's been coached since UYSO. His extra effort in the 50th minute going after a ball in the box only to be plowed out of the way by Irwin, earned RSL an opportunity at the spot, which Morales sent into the top netting for RSL's second goal.
Joao Plata continues to be RSL's secret weapon, and not just because his diminutive size allows him to hide amongst the giants of most opponents defensive lines, but because he just finds ways to score as well. His 24th minute goal was textbook — for everyone involved. Beltran started some beautiful link-up play with a deceptively tough ball off the bounce to Sandoval who deftly touched it to Morales who led Plata who calmly slotted the ball far-post for RSL's opening goal.
Chris Higbee is a former general manager of DeseretNews.com who continues to write about Real Salt Lake.
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