Real Salt Lake report card: RSL can't break through in U.S. Open Cup final vs. D.C. United

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 1 2013 11:00 p.m. MDT

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Tactics: With Luis Gil out for the match due to a successful emergency appendectomy Sunday night, Sebastian Velasquez got the start alongside RSL standards Kyle Beckerman, Javier Morales and Ned Grabavoy. Grabavoy and Velsaquez tucked inside much of the night, leaving room for defensive backs Chris Wingert and Tony Beltran to play into the RSL attack.

Ned Grabavoy was in a zone Tuesday night. Every move he made seemed a step faster than his defender, no matter who he was matched up against. His first half found him tucked in more than usual against the packed D.C. midfield, but with D.C. loading its end of the field in hopes of escaping with a 1-0 win, Kreis sent him wider in the second half, which opened the game to Grabavoy's strengths, as his near goal in the 52nd minute showed.

Javier Morales was clearly the target of D.C. United's defensive game plan. Take him out of his rhythm and RSL would flounder. The first half, he was too good for United. By the 65th minute, Morales seemed tired. His set pieces were not as good as usual. He was able to punch through D.C.'s defensive wall and RSL had the chances, but as is often the case in soccer, the luck of the bounce was not on Morales' or RSL's side.

Kyle Beckerman seemed tense Tuesday night. Beckerman's played in too many big games in his career for it to be nerves, but he was not at his best nevertheless. But a Beckerman at less than full strength is still better than most MLS midfielders at full strength. By the 60th minute, Beckerman settled into a rhythm.

Sebastian Velasquez was clearly anxious in his first U.S. Open Cup start of his career. The first half his decisions were slightly slower than his feet and he lost possession too often. By the second half, he'd collected himself and his foot skills and effort, particularly just outside the 18-yard box, was very good. He was subbed off in the 69th minute to make way for Khari Stephenson.

Khari Stephenson (sub, 69th minute) was brought on for Velasquez in the 69th minute to combat D.C.'s physical play and in hopes of giving RSL an attacking threat from distance in hopes of breaking the DC logjam in the box. It didn't quite work.

Grade: B+
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