RSL report card: Straight A's for RSL in record-breaking victory over D.C. United
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
After securing the Rocky Mountain Cup with last Saturday's win at Colorado, Real Salt Lake met up with D.C. United for the only time this regular season Saturday night. The Claret-and-Cobalt looked to avenge their Open Cup championship loss last season when D.C. maintained a 1-0 lead over RSL on Oct. 1, 2013, even though RSL controlled the tempo of the game all evening. D.C. also beat RSL in their regular season bout last year when Salt Lake visited D.C. on March 9, 2013.
Salt Lake hit the field early Saturday like one of those summer microbursts Salt Lake has experienced lately, with three goals in 24 minutes. And RSL's midfield seemed determined to not only protect the unusual backline of Mansally, Schuler, Borchers and Salcedo, but Nick Rimando's right to a 113th career shutout and the outright record in Major League Soccer. RSL's flow of goals stopped in the second half, but D.C. never found its way to the back of the net, earning RSL the eventual 3-0 lead and Rimando his 113th career shutout — and the MLS all-time record.
Nick Rimando came into Saturday's game off a historic showing last Saturday when he tied Kevin Hartman for the MLS all-time shutout record of 112 career shutouts. Rimando's teammates seemed bent on winning him his 113th career shutout Saturday as Rimando found himself in more of a passing role than a stopping role much of the night.
Tactics: With Chris Wingert (yellow-card accumulation), Tony Beltran (yellow-card accumulation) and Aaron Maund (red card at Colorado) all serving suspensions Saturday night, Jeff Cassar fielded an unlikely quartet of three center backs in Nat Borchers, Chris Schuler and Carlos Salcedo filling in for Beltran, with Abdoulie Mansally filling in for Wingert on the wing. With D.C.'s Eddie Johnson playing the lone striker and five shifty midfielders just behind him, lack of speed could be an issues for RSL.
Carlos Salcedo was terrific Saturday night in the unfamiliar right back position filling in for a suspended Tony Beltran. During the first 10 minutes, it was clear he was a little uncomfortable going forward. After going down on a hard tackle by D.C.'s Jared Jaffery early on in the first half, Salcedo found his confidence and was key to both RSL's offensive and defensive dominance inside D.C.'s half.
Chris Schuler scored a brace Saturday night. His first came off a blown-up corner kick in the 13th minute when Javier Morales collected the errant ball and sent it back into Schuler standing at the near-post to plink it past D.C.'s Bill Hamid. He was the recipient of another gorgeous Morales assist on a corner kick in the 24th minute when Morales dropped a perfect ball right into the path of a streaking Schuler who had no trouble putting the ball down past a frozen Hamid. Man of the Match.
Nat Borchers found himself playing a much higher line much of Saturday's match than normal. His passing and positioning were better than you might expect of a center back in this position — often linking up with Beckerman and erstwhile center back Carlos Salcedo to make the right side much more potent than D.C. was likely expecting.
Abdoulie Mansally was not called on as often as expected to work his way into crossing positions Saturday night, but when he was in an offensive position, he was very good. His blistering shot on goal in the 32nd minute was perhaps his best example, though Hamid saved it. His defensive recovery was excellent, especially critical against D.C.'s overloaded midfield and speedy striker in Eddie Johnson.
Tactics: RSL continues to switch out Luke Mullholland and Luis Gil in the midfield. Saturday night saw Mullholland get the draw. The rest of the standard diamond remained intact — Beckerman, Morales and Grabavoy.
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