EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. There was a time earlier this year when Real Salt Lake second-year defender Willis Forko wondered if he would be the next RSL player to be traded or be released. Can you blame him?
After starting the first 10 games of the season, the left fullback has fallen off the map the past 16 games, not even sniffing a minute's worth of playing time since June 14.
Forko returned to the starting lineup against the New York Red Bulls on Saturday, taking advantage of his coach's commitment to evaluation. Jason Kreis has made it clear that during the final month of the regular season all of his players are on trial as he looks to identify his core group of players heading into the 2008 season.
Forko's inclusion in Saturday's lineup was his opportunity to remind his coach of his abilities.
"We keep reiterating to the players, if you do the right things in training sessions, if you do the right things in the reserve games, if you come and put forth your best effort every single day you will get an opportunity," said Kreis. "For us, that's Willis Forko."
Based on his performance, he'll like get another opportunity before the season's over.
AN UNBELIEVABLE FIRST: Just like the NHL, Major League Soccer awards two assists for goals scored in which two passes lead directly to a goal.
Prior to Saturday, of RSL's 26 goals in 26 games this season not one had been credited with two assists. Amazingly, the club accomplished that feat twice against New York. In the 22nd minute Chris Brown headed in a cross from Chris Wingert, with the second assist being credited to Andy Williams.
In the 75th minute, Kyle Beckerman got on the score sheet as he knocked in a cross from Fabian Espindola which was made possible on a through ball from Alecko Eskandarian.
"Today we had two really nice goals, team goals, which is always a positive. When you're scoring goals off the run of play that's a great sign," said Beckerman.
HOME SWEET HOME: Playing about 15 miles south of his native Montvale, N.J., Alecko Eskandarian had a lot of family and friends in the stands Saturday.
He had requests for 40 tickets from family and friends, with dozens more also coming.
"I had a nice little entourage out there," said Eskandarian.
He didn't send them home disappointed as he assisted on RSL's second goal of the game, his team-leading third assist of the season.CENTURY DOUBLE-DOUBLE: Real Salt Lake midfielder Carey Talley started his 200th career Major League Soccer match on Saturday, becoming the 33rd player in league history to start at least 200 career games. Fellow RSL players Eddie Pope (249) and Ritchie Kotschau (216) are also among the 200 club.