Real Salt Lake concluded the sixth annual Carolina Challenge Cup with an impressive 2-1 win over Major League Soccer rival Toronto FC, with FW Yura Movsisyan and MF Clint Mathis each scoring first-half goals to boost RSL's preseason record to 6-1-1. Head Coach Jason Kreis' team went 3-0 this week, outscoring opponents by a 7-2 aggregate scoreline en route to capturing the CCC championship. The win could be a foreboding of good things to come for RSL, as four of the five previous CCC champions have gone on to win one of Major League Soccer's two trophies: the Supporter's Shield (awarded to the club with the best regular season record - Columbus Crew 2004, San Jose Earthquakes 2005) or MLS Cup, (Houston Dynamo 2006, 2007). Only last year's CCC winners, San Jose, failed to go on to capture one of the two league trophies.
Real Salt Lake has now allowed just 4 goals in 720 minutes of preseason action, a goals against average of just 0.50 per game. The staunch defense has been augmented by an attack that has outscored opponents 22-4. Tonight's goalscorers, Mathis and Movsisyan, each scored twice in the Carolina Challenge Cup, while Luis Miguel Escalada, Andy Williams and Kyle Beckerman each tallied one goal in this week's four-team, round-robin tourney.
In the sixth minute, RSL playmaker Javier Morales sent a long ball over the top from the center circle to an onrushing Movsisyan, in alone on Toronto 'keeper Stefan Frei. Movsisyan, RSL's Golden Boot winner from 2008, calmly slotted the ball inside the right post to give RSL a 1-0 lead. Movsisyan's strike partner Robbie Findley was instrumental in tonight's attack, his speed and skill wreaking havoc with the Toronto backline early, creating several chances. In the 20th minute, Findley dribbled deep into the Toronto box and slotted a pass to Mathis, who slammed home a laser from 10 yards out to give RSL the 2-0 lead.
Minutes later, Findley was taken down on a breakaway by TFC defender Kevin Harmse, who was shown his second yellow card and ejected. The resultant free kick by Morales banged off the left post, but Will Johnson was there to head the rebound. Johnson's shot went wide right, but Findley tracked it down and his shot was saved by Frei. However, RSL was unable to take advantage of having the extra man, and Toronto struck back in the 36th minute. After Jamison Olave was cautioned for pushing down Chad Barrett, the Amado Guevara free kick from 25 yards out was cleared off the line by RSL DF Chris Wingert. But TFC forward Dwayne DeRosario collected the clearance and found the back of the net, cutting RSL's lead to 2-1.
For the first 20 minutes of the second half, RSL benefited from the man-advantage, living in the Toronto half, with captain Kyle Beckerman, Morales, Johnson, Mathis, Findley, Movsisyan and Chris Wingert pinging the ball around nicely, creating several chances that fell just short of the final pass or shot. The game was a bit disjointed in the final 20 minutes, with both teams substituting liberally.
Real Salt Lake will play its final game of the preseason next Saturday, March 21 at 1:00 p.m. MT against the USL Division I Austin Aztex at Rio Tinto Stadium's "Open House" presented by Sandy City and the Rotary Club. The other 14 MLS teams play next weekend, while RSL kicks off its 2009 campaign on Saturday, March 28 against the expansion Seattle Sounders FC at Qwest Field in Seattle at 8:30 p.m. MT. RSL's 2009 home opener is Thursday, April 2 at 7:00 p.m. MT against defending MLS Cup champion Columbus Crew, live on ESPN2 from Rio Tinto Stadium.
Real Salt Lake 2009 Preseason Game #8
RSL 2 : 1 Toronto FC
Saturday, March 14, 2009
Blackbaud Stadium - Charleston, S.C.
RSL - Yura Movsisyan (Javier Morales) 6'
RSL - Clint Mathis (Robbie Findley) 20'
TFC - Dwayne DeRosario (Carl Robinson) 38'
TFC - Kevin Harmse (caution) 9
TFC - Kevin Harmse (ejection) 22
RSL - Jamison Olave (caution) 40
Real Salt Lake Lineup (4-4-2): GK-Nick Rimando; DF-Tony Beltran (Raphael Cox 82), DF-Jamison Olave, DF-David Horst, DF-Chris Wingert; MF-Will Johnson, MF Clint Mathis (Ned Grabavoy 64), MF-Kyle Beckerman, MF-Javier Morales (Andy Williams 71); FW-Robbie Findley, FW-Yura Movsisyan (Luis Miguel Escalada 79)
Toronto FC Lineup (4-4-2): GK-Stefan Frei; DF- Marvell Wynne, DF-Kevin Harmse, DF-Adrian Serioux (Marco Velez 26), DF-Jim Brennan; MF-Rohan Ricketts (Sam Cronin 54), MF-Carl Robinson, MF-Amado Guevara, MF-Dwayne DeRosario (Amadou Sanyang 89); FW-Pablo Vitti (Danny Dichio 71), FW-Chad Barrett (Fuad Ibrahim 82)