After conceding first on Friday night, Real Salt Lake opened the flood gates, scoring four times before halftime and notching a fifth goal in the second stanza to defeat the Colorado Rapids 5-1. Jose Mari’s 21st minute opener was overwhelmed by goals from Joao Plata, Javier Morales, Chris Schuler, and Carlos Salcedo along with an own goal from Rapids keeper Joe Nasco. The win, coupled with FC Dallas’s loss to the LA Galaxy on Saturday, puts RSL four points clear of the Hoops in the Western Conference while remaining five points off league leading Seattle Sounders and LA Galaxy. Here are five thoughts from Friday’s match:
- Rough Night: In his first career start for the Colorado Rapids against the LA Galaxy two weeks ago, goalkeeper Joe Nasco didn’t allow a single goal. Unfortunately, that was largely because he was summarily dismissed from that tilt only 34 seconds in, after receiving a red card for denial of an obvious goal scoring opportunity in the match’s early moments. Friday’s NBCSN audience was not so deprived of the presence of his glorious beard, although his performance didn’t exactly garner much positive attention. Nasco’s quality saves late in the second half were overshadowed by his fatal decision making on goals by Carlos Salcedo and Chris Schuler, while poor positioning allowed Javier Morales to get on the score sheet (scoring directly off a corner). Nasco also found himself in the wrong team’s scoring column, logging an own goal in the 45th minute. Nasco is no slouch; he has an NASL Best XI designation to his credit. He’ll have better nights, but Friday was one he’ll want to forget.
- #JaimeWatch: Sebastian Jaime made his Real Salt Lake debut in the 67th minute in the team’s victory over FC Dallas on September 6. Saturday represented the Chilean newcomer’s first start for the Claret-and-Cobalt, and the newly minted designated player did not disappoint. Jaime nearly notched his first MLS goal in the 15th minute when he settled a long ball from Luke Mulholland before hitting a shot first time, only to be saved by the fingertips of Joe Nasco.
— Heath Waddingham (@heathwadds) September 22, 2014
Some of his other contributions likely went unnoticed, including his hustle in the 32nd minute to track down Chris Wingert’s clearance deep in Colorado’s end; the possession gained by his effort on that play led to Joao Plata’s stunning opener. When he left the field in the 70th minute, RSL had scored 5 goals, and the game had been salted away. Jaime will continue to adjust and hopefully become one of RSL’s all-time greats. One stunning Jaime statistic: in his 93 minutes of play, RSL has scored 6 times, or a goal every 15.5 minutes. PRODIGIOUS.
- Embarrassment of Riches: Javier Morales feels sorry for Jeff Cassar. But in a good way. In his postgame interview with NBCSN, the Argentine attacking midfielder said, “I don’t want to be Jeff Cassar right now, because he has a lot of choices [at forward], everyone can play.” Surely this is a dilemma Cassar is thrilled to have. The arrival of Sebastian Jaime coincided with the return of Alvaro Saborio from injury. Joao Plata is having a breakout year, while Olmes Garcia and Robbie Findley provide support. Such is glut of talent at forward that RSL sent Devon Sandoval to the Carolina Railhawks on loan. How will Cassar divvy up the limited minutes available in the future? The coach has already suggested we will see some tinkering in the coming weeks as Cassar looks to optimize his team’s talent.
- Filthy Talent: Ned Grabavoy’s backheeled assist on RSL’s opener locked up the MLS Goal of the Week before the weekend had even started.
— Total MLS (@TotalMLS) September 20, 2014
But RSL’s creativity didn’t stop there. The team followed up with an 8-pass sequence before the side’s fourth goal, crowned by a Javier Morales dummy, as well as a Morales goal direct from a corner kick. Morales’s Olympic goal was particularly bold: the midfielder said in his postgame interview with NBCSN that when he saw no one on the near post and Nasco off his line, he decided to have a crack at goal.
- Break Out the Brooms: With Friday’s win, Real Salt Lake successfully took all nine points (3-0-0) from its matches against the Rapids this season. That dominance returned the Rocky Mountain Cup to the RioT and also represents the first time in the history of the cup that team has swept the regular season series.