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Report card: Real Salt Lake vs. Chicago Fire

Published: Thursday, July 30 2015 11:17 p.m. MDT

RSL's Nat Borchers heads the ball past the Fire's Austin Berry, center, and Logan Pause as Real Salt Lake and the Chicago Fire play in an MLS game Saturday, May 25, 2013, in Sandy. The match finished in a 1-1 draw. (Tom Smart, Deseret News) RSL's Nat Borchers heads the ball past the Fire's Austin Berry, center, and Logan Pause as Real Salt Lake and the Chicago Fire play in an MLS game Saturday, May 25, 2013, in Sandy. The match finished in a 1-1 draw. (Tom Smart, Deseret News)

Real Salt Lake faced a frustrated and hungry Chicago Fire Saturday night at Rio Tinto Stadium. RSL owned possession. It owned shots on goal. But it couldn't find their way past Chicago's rising keeper Sean Johnson, who had several Nick Rimando-like saves to keep the score nil-nil, until 60th minute sub, Alvaro Saborio, found himself on the end of a perfectly weighted ball by Ned Grabavoy for a 1-0 header goal that looked like it would keep RSL in the lead, but Quincy Amerikwa had a goal-of-the-week volley in the box off a Jamil Anibaba throw-in that gave Chicago what felt like the win, with a 1-1 tie.

Nick Rimando (GK) Rimando wasn't tested much Saturday night, but when he was he was true to the task. The few goals he saved were not spectacular, but his positioning, particularly in the sunny first half on Chicago's many corner kicks, was tremendous, and his distribution created a handful of breaking opportunities for RSL. GRADE: A

RSL's Alvaro Saborio celebrates after scoring as Real Salt Lake and the Chicago Fire play in an MLS game Saturday, May 25, 2013, in Sandy. The match finished in a 1-1 draw. (Tom Smart, Deseret News) RSL's Alvaro Saborio celebrates after scoring as Real Salt Lake and the Chicago Fire play in an MLS game Saturday, May 25, 2013, in Sandy. The match finished in a 1-1 draw. (Tom Smart, Deseret News)

Tony Beltran (DEF) Beltran was solid as always, and with Chicago's 4-5-1 formation, he ended up playing more of an offensive role than other recent games, playing a key role in RSL's ownership of the midfield. GRADE: B+

Carlos Salcedo (DEF) Salcedo's positioning was much improved Saturday over the Chivas game, and it's clear Real Salt Lake coach Jason Kreis' confidence in this young man is well-founded. His potential goal-saving slide in the 39th minute was one of the defensive highlights of the game. GRADE: A

Nat Borchers (DEF) Borchers luckily was never called on to match speed with Chicago's Patrick Nyarko. The combination of his positioning and RSL's control of the midfield kept Nyarko at bay. GRADE: A

Chris Wingert (DEF) Wingert seems to be returning to form, back in the starting line-up for his fifth game. Like Beltran, much of his work came higher on the pitch than normal. His tracks back, especially during a lull in the first half when RSL was struggling to gain momentum, were critical in fending off what could have been a devastating Chicago burst of energy. Wingert's near goal in the 58th minute came at a time when RSL needed to grab some momentum, and it got it. GRADE: B+

A moment of silence before the Real Salt Lake-Chicago game for Utah referee Ricardo Portillo, who died as a result of a player allegedly striking him during a game. (Tom Smart, Deseret News) A moment of silence before the Real Salt Lake-Chicago game for Utah referee Ricardo Portillo, who died as a result of a player allegedly striking him during a game. (Tom Smart, Deseret News)

Luis Gil (MID) Gil played the role fans often equate with Ned Grabavoy, playing somewhere between Kyle Beckerman and Javier Morales. Not necessarily defensive on purpose, but less attack centric. Grabavoy and Morales had that covered. Not to say Gil didn't make his way into the attack. In fact his combination play with Grabavoy gave Beckerman two of his shots on goal. GRADE: B+

Kyle Beckerman (MID) Beckerman finally got the taste of a goal this season with his first against Chivas last Sunday. He clearly liked the taste, getting off three very good shots on goal in the first half alone. RSL's captain didn't neglect his defensive duties, but he did find his way up the pitch more than usual. GRADE: A

Javier Morales (MID) Morales was masterful in the midfield Saturday. It was perhaps his finest passing game yet this season, despite a near goal-yielding give-away in the 39th minute. But it's Morales' willingness to take calculated chances that makes his game so exciting to watch and dangerous to defend. He didn't have many opportunities for set pieces, but when he did he was dangerous, especially his free kick in the 77th minute that was saved by a half inch of cross bar rather than the spectacular Sean Johns. GRADE: A

Chicago's Austin Berry celebrates after the Fire scores late as Real Salt Lake and the Chicago Fire play in an MLS game Saturday, May 25, 2013, in Sandy. The match finished in a 1-1 draw. (Tom Smart, Deseret News) Chicago's Austin Berry celebrates after the Fire scores late as Real Salt Lake and the Chicago Fire play in an MLS game Saturday, May 25, 2013, in Sandy. The match finished in a 1-1 draw. (Tom Smart, Deseret News)

Ned Grabavoy (MID) Like Beckerman, Grabavoy's two-goal stint last Sunday must have given him the taste for more because he was the central player through whom most of RSL's goal-scoring chances went, including one shot of his own off a perfect Plata cross into the box that would have found net if not for a very good Sean Johnson save. GRADE: A

Robbie Findley (FWD) Kreis paired up Findley and Joao Plata for speed. Good move. Their combined ability not only beat Chicago's big backers off the back line on over-the-top balls, but harried them on the ball. Findley had two very good changes, one in the first half when he nearly bent a left footer for a goal if not for a spectacular save by Johnson, and his best opportunity of the night, when Plata sent a perfectly weighted ball right at Findley in the 6-yard box, but he put the header wide left. GRADE: B

Real Salt Lake players wear yellow armbands in memory of Utah referee Ricardo Portillo, who died as a result of a player allegedly striking him during a game. (Tom Smart, Deseret News) Real Salt Lake players wear yellow armbands in memory of Utah referee Ricardo Portillo, who died as a result of a player allegedly striking him during a game. (Tom Smart, Deseret News)

Joao Plata (FWD) Plata was spectacular Saturday night. Passing, dribbling, crossing, shooting, sprinting. Everything he did was dangerous. He could have had three assists if not for spectacular saves or poor shots. His play in and around the box on offense was particularly exciting. He even got a few shots off, including a low burner in the 55th minute that nearly found its way past Johnson. GRADE: A

Alvaro Saborio (FWD, SUB 62') Saborio made his first appearance for RSL since being injured in early April, and he didn't seem like he'd lost a step. His touch was terrific, including one in the 67th minute when he brought down an over-the-top ball with a deft touch, then volleyed it inches wide of the goal. He made up for the miss in the 77th minute when Velasquez used tenacity and fancy footwork to keep the ball in Chicago's box, sent a wide ball to Ned Grabavoy who weighted a terrific cross to Saborio, who timed his leap perfectly to send the ball screaming past Johnson for the goal. GRADE: A, MAN OF THE MATCH

RSL's Alvaro Saborio celebrates with Joao Plata, left, and Sebastian Velasquez, right, after scoring as Real Salt Lake and the Chicago Fire play in an MLS game Saturday, May 25, 2013, in Sandy. The match finished in a 1-1 draw. (Tom Smart, Deseret News) RSL's Alvaro Saborio celebrates with Joao Plata, left, and Sebastian Velasquez, right, after scoring as Real Salt Lake and the Chicago Fire play in an MLS game Saturday, May 25, 2013, in Sandy. The match finished in a 1-1 draw. (Tom Smart, Deseret News)

Sebastian Velasquez (MID, SUB 72') Velasquez came on for a winded Luis Gil and immediately made an impact. His ball to Ned Grabavoy that found goal when Alvaro Saborio headed it in in the 77th minute gave him the double assist and RSL the lead. Velasquez is better when coming on late. Good call by Kreis. GRADE: A

Yordany Alvarez (MID, 83') Brought on for Plata as a defensive move, Alvarez did his job. It wasn't his fault, or any RSL player's fault that Chicago got the equalizer. All of them played their mark well when Jamil Anibaba sent a ball into the box in the 84th minute where Chicago's Austin Berry got a head on it and Quincy Amerikwa wrapped the ball around Nat Borchers with a beautiful volley to squeak one past Rimando. GRADE: B+

Chris Higbee is the general manager for DeseretNews.com. He occasionally writes about Real Salt Lake.

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