Kristin Murphy, Deseret News
Friday night's Fourth of July matchup with the New England Revolution is Real Salt Lake's first MLS home game since May 24 when a World-Cup depleted Salt Lake side drew with Dallas in a well-played effort. It was also Real's first game with U.S. Men's National Team players Kyle Beckerman and Nick Rimando back on the field after returning home from Brazil early Thursday morning.
The first half saw both RSL and New England score within minutes of each other in a bizarre turn of events: Javier Morales scored from the spot due to the Revolution's Darius Barnes committing a foul in the box, then Barnes scored off a free-kick produced header created by a yellow-card penalty on Morales 20 yards outside his own 18-yard box.
The second half started amid a temperature of 88 degrees, and both teams looked sluggish. However, another foul in the box by the Revolution came on Chris Tierney in the 64th minute, which put Joao Plata at the spot to give RSL the go-ahead goal, and eventual game winner.
Nick Rimando has been with the U.S. Men's National Team in Brazil for the last three weeks, and in training for three weeks before that. While he's trained with the best, he hasn't had much field time in a competitive game for a while. He didn't get too many opportunities to show off the work he'd done in his World Cup training, but in the 37th minute, only two after giving RSL its first goal by taking down Chris Schuler in the box, Darrius Barnes found the end of a tremendous Chris Tierney free kick to head it past Rimando at point-blank range. Rimando had another chance in the 53rd minute and that time, he and the bar did just enough to keep the score level on a bouncing Revolution shot.
Tactics: RSL rolled out the standard four on the back line, Beltran, Borches, Schuler and Wingert. They played a little higher defensive line Friday than normal, which brought Nick Rimando, one of the most sure-footed goalies in MLS, outside his 18-yard box as a sort of sweeper-keeper much of the time.
Tony Beltran got forward a handful of times during Friday's game. He was effective, but most of Friday's attack for RSL came up the left side, and Beltran found himself watching the game too much.
Chris Schuler was involved early and often Friday night, using his big frame to win a high number of balls out of the air and his soft touch and surprising deftness in a crowd to link up with Kyle Beckerman and Javier Morales to start several breaks from the defensive and middle third.
Nat Borchers played well. He was good in the air and solid in his positioning. While Schuler seemed to be more heavily involved in starting attacks, Borchers was content to play the safety man, keeping RSL's defensive shape in good order much of the night. Borcher's finest moment of the night was a galloping run back to tackle the ball out of bounds just as the Revolution's Patrick Mullins was prepping a shot on goal.
Chris Wingert ended up getting much of the offensive wing play Friday night as RSL concentrated its attack on the Revolution's right flank. He and Luis Gil were very good together and linked up with Javier Morales, Devon Sandoval and Plata to give RSL its most effective attacks of the night.
Tactics: RSL might have been tempted to play the much-watched 4-2-3-1 formation played by so many of the teams in the World Cup, but coach Jeff Cassar went back to RSL's traditional diamond-midfield 4-4-2, with Kyle Beckerman back on the field in his defensive mid position and Luis Gil and Jon Stertzer taking the wings for an injured Ned Grabavoy and red-carded Luke Mulholland.
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