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Real Salt Lake-Colorado Rapids: Report Card

Published: Monday, July 27 2015 10:19 p.m. MDT

Luis Gil (der.) de Real Salt Lake combate para ganar el bal? ante Jeff Larentowicz de los Colorado Rapids durante su partido MLS en el estadio Rio Tinto en Sandy el s?ado, 7 de abril, 2012.  Luis Gil (right) of Real Salt Lake battles for control of the ball against Jeff Larentowicz of the Colorado Rapids during their MLS match up at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy Saturday, April 7, 2012. (Brian Nicholson, Deseret News) Luis Gil (der.) de Real Salt Lake combate para ganar el bal? ante Jeff Larentowicz de los Colorado Rapids durante su partido MLS en el estadio Rio Tinto en Sandy el s?ado, 7 de abril, 2012. Luis Gil (right) of Real Salt Lake battles for control of the ball against Jeff Larentowicz of the Colorado Rapids during their MLS match up at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy Saturday, April 7, 2012. (Brian Nicholson, Deseret News)

For the first time this season, RSL had Nat Borchers in the lineup. He had an immediate impact on the back line which helped on a night when the midfield line was missing playmaker Javier Morales, who is out with a pulled hamstring, and the steady Ned Grabavoy, who is ailing with a dislocated rib. Colorado came out looking like those teams from the lower elevations; from the beginning they just seemed a step slower than Real. Alvaro Saborio and Fabian Espindola capitalized.

Nick Rimando kept a clean sheet Saturday night due in large part to a solidified back line with Nat Borchers back on the field and a very good defensive showing from the entire RSL midfield. He did have two good saves off relatively weak shots from Colorado, but Nick earns his grade from his terrific distribution and leadership in the box.

Grade: A-

Tony Beltran was in a surprising mood Saturday. Time after time he could be seen sneaking into dangerous places along the Colorado flanks or putting perfect 40 yard switching crosses right at the feet of fellow defender Chris Wingert. One perfectly placed cross turned into an assist in the 20th minute when he found a wide open Alvaro Saborio standing in front of the goal.

Alvaro Sabor? de Real Salt Lake combate para ganar el bal? ante Tyrone Marshall de los Colorado Rapids durante su partido MLS en el estadio Rio Tinto en Sandy el s?ado, 7 de abril, 2012.  Alvaro Saborio of Real Salt Lake battles for control of the ball against Tyrone Marshall of the Colorado Rapids during their MLS match up at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy Saturday, April 7, 2012. (Brian Nicholson, Deseret News) Alvaro Sabor? de Real Salt Lake combate para ganar el bal? ante Tyrone Marshall de los Colorado Rapids durante su partido MLS en el estadio Rio Tinto en Sandy el s?ado, 7 de abril, 2012. Alvaro Saborio of Real Salt Lake battles for control of the ball against Tyrone Marshall of the Colorado Rapids during their MLS match up at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy Saturday, April 7, 2012. (Brian Nicholson, Deseret News)

Grade: A-

Jamison Olave was not his sharpest Saturday night. He flubbed a couple of routine passes early which seemed to frustrate him. He seemed to shake it off by the second half and his physicality was back on display. He even earned a yellow card for a reckless foul in the 74th minute.

Grade: B

Nat Borchers wasted no time showing Omar Cummings why Real Salt Lake's back line may be the best in MLS when he's there. He schooled Cummings every time he tried to joust with him with veteran patience and savvy. Most welcomed was his on-field leadership, which could be seen in a much more disciplined and organized back line.

Grade: A-

Chris Wingert's defensive positioning Saturday night was impeccable. He was pulled into the attack several times in the first half very effectively, but it never meant his flank was left undefended. He found himself forward less in the second half as Real pulled back to hold onto their two goal lead. His impact during the second half defensive stand frustrated the Colorado right side, and they were simply never able got a decent shot or cross off in his presence, even though the pressure was on.

Kyle Beckerman de Real Salt Lake recibe una tarjeta amarilla del ?bitro Jair Marrufo y ante Martin Rivero de los Colorado Rapids durante su partido MLS en el estadio Rio Tinto en Sandy el s?ado, 7 de abril, 2012.  Kyle Beckerman of Real Salt Lake gets a yellow card from referee Jair Marrufo and in front of Martin Rivero of the Colorado Rapids during their MLS match up at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy Saturday, April 7, 2012. (Brian Nicholson, Deseret News) Kyle Beckerman de Real Salt Lake recibe una tarjeta amarilla del ?bitro Jair Marrufo y ante Martin Rivero de los Colorado Rapids durante su partido MLS en el estadio Rio Tinto en Sandy el s?ado, 7 de abril, 2012. Kyle Beckerman of Real Salt Lake gets a yellow card from referee Jair Marrufo and in front of Martin Rivero of the Colorado Rapids during their MLS match up at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy Saturday, April 7, 2012. (Brian Nicholson, Deseret News)

Grade: B+

Will Johnson started the game with a spark, booting a blistering shot at goal in the sixth minute that was turned away superbly by Colorado goalie Matt Pickens. He followed that up with solid midfield play all night. The feisty Canadian is known for his untiring motor, but Saturday night he showed surprising strength given his slight frame, shouldering off more than one player on more than one challenge in a Jamison Olave fashion.

Grade: A-

Kyle Beckerman's night felt a little like running in sand. He was working hard and in all the right places but progress was hard to come by. He had another goal of the week opportunity fall to him in the 36th minute when the ball fell out of the sky right at his feet, but it skipped off his laces on the half volley and never made it to goal. But it was his missed shot in the 48th minute when he couldn't have been set up any better by Fabian Espindola right at the top of the 18 yard box that had Kyle wishing he could get it back for another try. He earned a yellow card in the same 74th minute fracas that earned Jamison Olave his.

Alvaro Saborio #15 of Real Salt Lake scores a goal on goalie Matt Pickens #18 of Colorado Rapids during the first half of an MLS soccer game April 7, 2012 at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah.  (George Frey, Getty Images) Alvaro Saborio #15 of Real Salt Lake scores a goal on goalie Matt Pickens #18 of Colorado Rapids during the first half of an MLS soccer game April 7, 2012 at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah. (George Frey, Getty Images)

Grade: B

Luis Gil was fire and ice in his attacking midfield position, using his speed and determination to play one of his best games on both sides of the ball this season. He picked up his first assist of the season when he placed a perfectly weighted ball forward to a streaking Fabian Espindola in the 54th minute for the Claret and Cobalt's second goal of the game. His yellow card in the 81st minute showed Gil's feisty side when he took a hand to the face from Drew Moor, and charged after him with fire in his eyes.

Grade: B+

Sebastian Velasquez played the best defense of the game, hands down, using pure hustle and determination to win joust after joust to keep Colorado from ever getting too comfortable in the midfield. His defense in the first half played a major role in holding Colorado to only two non-threatening shots on goal.

Fanaticos de Real Salt Lake celebran el primer gol ante los Colorado Rapids durante su partido MLS en el estadio Rio Tinto en Sandy el s?ado, 7 de abril, 2012.  Real Salt Lake fans celebrate the first goal against the Colorado Rapids during their MLS match up at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy Saturday, April 7, 2012. (Brian Nicholson, Deseret News) Fanaticos de Real Salt Lake celebran el primer gol ante los Colorado Rapids durante su partido MLS en el estadio Rio Tinto en Sandy el s?ado, 7 de abril, 2012. Real Salt Lake fans celebrate the first goal against the Colorado Rapids during their MLS match up at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy Saturday, April 7, 2012. (Brian Nicholson, Deseret News)

Grade: A-

Alvaro Saborio looks like he's back in form after being held out four of the first three games with an injury. He won a beautifully placed ball from Chris Wingert in the Colorado right corner and juked Colorado defender, Kosuke Kimura in the sixteenth minute to fire a difficult angle shot that turned out to be the second heater in so many shots at Matt Pickens, who once again parried it away. He scored the first goal of the night four minutes later in the 20th when he received a beautiful cross from Tony Beltran that required a deft touch to get it onto his right foot where he easily put it past Pickens outstretched left arm. His header in the 54th minute nearly found the net but ricocheted off the top bar, coming down just in front of Pickens. Alvaro still has work to do on his passing, particularly on the run, but with the season still in its beginnings there's reason to be optimistic that it will.

Brian Mullan #11 of Colorado Rapids tries to disrupt the kick of goalie Nick Rimando #18 of Real Salt Lake during the first half of an MLS soccer game April 7, 2012 at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah.  (George Frey, Getty Images) Brian Mullan #11 of Colorado Rapids tries to disrupt the kick of goalie Nick Rimando #18 of Real Salt Lake during the first half of an MLS soccer game April 7, 2012 at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah. (George Frey, Getty Images)

Grade: B+

Fabian Espindola had a brilliant opportunity to score in the 39th minute off a perfectly timed run down the left center of the field but he drifted to far left and rather than getting a better angle with his right foot, he used his favored left and ended up shanking it wide right. True to form this season, he threatened all night. His best opportunity came in the 51st minute when he took a touch too much on a great breakaway that amounted to a corner when it should have been a goal. He finally found the net when he slotted a Luis Gil assist through two defenders and an onrushing Matt Pickens in the 57th minute, his 3rd goal of the season. There's room for improvement still with Fabian's decision making - pass or shoot - and he could strengthen his right foot some, but his maturity and the fact that there is a never ending threat when he's on the field make him my Man of the Match.

Grade: A-

Alvaro Sabor? de Real Salt Lake combate para ganar el bal? ante Kosuke Kimura de los Colorado Rapids durante su partido MLS en el estadio Rio Tinto en Sandy el s?ado, 7 de abril, 2012.  Alvaro Saborio of Real Salt Lake battles for control of the ball against Kosuke Kimura of the Colorado Rapids during their MLS match up at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy Saturday, April 7, 2012. (Brian Nicholson, Deseret News) Alvaro Sabor? de Real Salt Lake combate para ganar el bal? ante Kosuke Kimura de los Colorado Rapids durante su partido MLS en el estadio Rio Tinto en Sandy el s?ado, 7 de abril, 2012. Alvaro Saborio of Real Salt Lake battles for control of the ball against Kosuke Kimura of the Colorado Rapids during their MLS match up at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy Saturday, April 7, 2012. (Brian Nicholson, Deseret News)

Jonny Steele is cut from the same metal as Ned Grabavoy it seems, showing very good ball control and the patient work rate that has been Grabavoy's hallmark. Some of his passing decisions could be better but all in all, he's a very good one-two punch at the right midfield position with Sebastian Velasquez.

Grade: B

Yordany Alvarez was subbed on for Luis Gil in the 82nd minute for defensive reasons. He held his own but played too few minutes to earn a grade.

Grade: Incomplete

Emiliano Bonfigli made his MLS debut in stoppage time, subbing on for Fabian Espindola only a minute or two before the whistle was blown.

Grade: Incomplete

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