Sandy, UT – RSL overcame all the distractions of having so many ex-players in town this week to win big over NYCFC in their first ever meeting tonight.
Jason Kries came to town with New York City FC and a host of familiar faces to Rio Tinto, and walked away with another defeat in what has turned out to be a difficult year for one of the newest clubs in Major League Soccer.
The fans came out in force to welcome home not only Jason Kries, but also Chris Wingert, Sabastian Valasquez who saw playing time tonight as well as several others who have hit the pitch for the Claret and Cobalt in the past. Rio Tinto set a new stadium attendance record with 20,801 fans on hand for this historic match.
Even the threatening weather than never amounted to much more than a slight chill in the air didn’t dampen the fans or the club from putting on a very energetic match with RSL keeping up very aggressive play for the entire eventing.
In the first of many highlights of the night, John Stertzer scored his first goal of his professional career in the 25th minute of the match. Kyle Beckerman started things off, as he deflected a pass off to a Devon Sandoval who was able to put the ball down right in front a streaking John Stertzer who was able to get store scoring off past Josh Saunders in the goal.
It looked like RSL has reverted to the old diamond formation and was able to really use it to their advantage against their old manager.
The first half ended without NYCFC able to respond to Stertzer’s goal, with RSL with a 1-0 lead.
Real Salt Lake picked up right where they left off, not allowing New York any room to get any momentum. In the 49th minute, Luke Mulholland was on the end of a long pass from Jamison Olave that he was able to fire into the box and a waiting Alvaro Saborio who headed the ball off of Josh Sauders and into the net, lifting RSL to a 2-0 lead.
The sellout crowd at Rio Tinto
came to their feet a number of times in the match, most noteworthy; in the 62nd minute when Javier Morales entered the match for John Stertzer, in the 81st minute when Chris Wingert left the match and gave an ecstatic roar when Joao Plata hit the pitch in the 90th minute.
Javier Morales and Joao Plata are both returning after injuries that have kept them out of several matches.
Nick Rimando had a relatively quite night with only one save on twelve shots from NYCFC. Chalk of one more clean sheet for the “Wall of the Wasatch”.
Quotes from Real Salt Lake
– Coach Jeff Cassar
On having Javier Morales back
“It was fantastic, I thought Luis (Gil) had a very good game for us tonight and then any time you can bring that type of quality on to the field to close out the game it’s a blessing. It was great that he got rewarded for his hard work that he put in to get back from the concussion. A concussion is an interesting injury and I was proud of the way he came back.”
On the team performance
“I thought our defending shape was considerably better than it was against Montreal. From our defensive shape we created a lot more of our attack. That’s going to continue to be an area to keep improving on because our attack is better when we defend well. The guys put in an unbelievable effort. That was really close to the complete game that we keep striving for.”
On the goals
“They were creating chances all night long. Putting themselves in dangerous positions. I think we probably could have had a couple more. It started from good defensive shape and then a commitment to get into the box on the end of things. Overall, I’m extremely pleased with the urgency to score.”
On seeing Jason Kreis on the opposite sideline
“It was business as usual. I know that sounds cliché. We had a job to do. WE can’t be distracted by other things. For them to focus like they did was a huge credit to our players. Looking down and seeing Jason at the other end, that was awesome, seeing Miles (Joseph) and CJ (Brown), all the guys, was extremely special. But we had a job to do tonight and we did that.”
On Stertzer scoring a goal
“We talked about joining the play with John this week. He did everything we asked for and more. John is a very talented player. We are just scratching the surface of what he is able to do. Now it’s about continually backing that up and continually getting better.”
On Plata’s return
“I think you can see what we can do when we have a full arsenal of players. I wanted to get Joao on the field to say, ‘All of that hard work you’ve done has got you to this moment.’ We still have a lot more work to do on his fitness, but you can see his explosion. It was great for the fans to spur him on like that and spur our team on.”
– Midfielder John Stertzer
On his first goal
“It feels great, but again, I’ve said it before, the most important thing is getting three points tonight. So I’m really happy about that.”
On what he saw during his goal
“It was all Devon [Sandoval]. He set up a great little flick off of the header and I just made a decent run and got in a good position and was able to finish it.”
On if the team’s found an offensive rhythm
“It was definitely good to score a few goals tonight, but we also kept a zero, which was really important.”
On his personal journey through injuries to his first goal tonight
“It feels great. Everyone here works really hard every day, and I’ve certainly been working really hard. It’s good to get on the field and take advantage of the opportunities that are given to me.”
– Midfielder Luke Mulholland
On finding an offensive rhythm
“It’s what we get paid to do, so it’s about time we figured it out. It’s just another enjoyable game – we’ve only had two or three enjoyable games this season so far. Tonight was a special occasion with the return of a few familiar faces and Jason Kreis who – I don’t know him personally, but – did wonders here as a player and as a manager. The players knew that at the start of the game. It was a big game for Coach Cassar – you always want to win one over against the old manager. I’m just delighted that things were clicking tonight and that we were flowing and getting plenty of guys on the ball. I’m delighted for John Stertzer to get his first goal.”
On his assist
“I had a couple in the first half that didn’t come off as clean as that. I was just happy that we got the second goal, and then we could really start to play some good football. I’m delighted I could whip it in to his forehead and for him to get that second goal.”
On the team’s defensive shape
“It felt like a lot of running at times, but it’s going to be quite a 90-minute shift offensively and defensively. I think more so in the second half we were on the attack because we were more careful with the ball, and we made them do the chasing, especially after the second goal. Credit to the guys in the back who didn’t concede a goal the whole night. Always happy to get a clean sheet.”
On Javier Morales’ and Joao Plata’s return
“Obviously, you heard the reception Plata got when he stepped back on the field – that was great to see. It was great to see that little man running around. Now the games are going to come thick and fast. We’re going to need to rotate players and I think that having Morales back and Plata back is good timing.”
– Midfielder Javier Morales
On being back from injury
“I’m happy to be back. It was couple weeks that I haven’t been feeling good after the concussion, but now I’m happy to be back.”
On the energy surrounding the game
“It’s a great day for soccer. You play against old friends like [Ned] Grabavoy, [Sebastian] Velasquez – Jason’s on the bench – everyone, you know. Good atmosphere on the field with old people, you know, Plata’s coming back, and we won. I think it was great night for everyone.”
On Plata’s return
“He scored 15 goals last year, so we need him. Everyone is happy to have him back again. Everyone is happy and I hope that in a couple more games he can get more minutes and a couple goals.”
Quotes from New York City FC
– Coach Jason Kreis
On what he didn’t like about the game
“That we got scored twice and lost the game. But overall I thought the effort of our team was really good. I’m pleased that they never gave up.”
On what RSL was doing to apply pressure
“I think they were better with the ball. I think in the first half they were not as good with the ball as I would typically expect. I think it opened them up to allow us to be on the ball a bit more.”
On the emotions of the game
“It was odd. It was definitely odd to be on the other side of the bench, the other side of the field. It was odd to look out at all those players and see that they were opponents and not my players. But that was really about it. Obviously I think a terrific crowd again, great atmosphere for a game. I tried to enjoy it as much as I could and certainly that’s not going to be much when you lose 2-0.”
On being back at Rio Tinto Stadium
“It has been nice to be here for a few days. In a lot of ways it was my home for nine years. I met a lot of fantastic people, did a lot of things here that I have to be proud of. And that I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”
– Defender Chris Wingert
On being back at Rio Tinto Stadium
“It was a little bit strange. The visitors locker room, and not to be coming out of the tunnel with those guys. But it was nice to be back besides the result. Obviously it was really disappointing for our group. But besides that it was nice to be back here and see everybody, and just get a minute to thank the fans.”
On facing his former teammates
“Strange. Me and Kyle played side by side for a full decade because we were in Colorado together, and came here at the same time. We’re here for eight seasons. It is a strange feeling but we know how the business works and I went back to New York was a good opportunity for me to be closer to my family, and be part of great club like NYCFC. And RSL was really great to me all along and even beyond the end. They still are great to me. I miss everybody here and I’m thankful for the time I got to spend with a classy organization like Real Salt Lake.”
On NYCFC going forward
“Go home and try to keep improving and try and win next weekend. We’re obviously not where we’d like to be. We’re finding it really hard to come by some good results so we have got to get back to work this week and try to have a better performance next week against Houston.”
Real Salt Lake (3-3-5): Nick Rimando; Tony Beltran; Jámison Olave; Elias Vasquez; Demar Phillips (Abdoulie Mansally, 78′); Kyle Beckerman (C); Luis Gil; Luke Mulholland ; John Stertzer (Javier Morales, 62′); Alvaro Saborio (Joao Plata, 90′); Devon Sandoval
Substitutes not used: Jeff Attinella; Olmes Garcia; Aaron Maund; Wellington Paeckart; Joao Plata
New York City FC (1-6-4): Josh Saunders; Jeb Brovsky; Chris Wingert (Connor Brandt, 81′); Jason Hernandez; Shay Facey; Andrew Jacobson; Mix Diskerud; Mehdi Ballouchy; Khiry Shelton (Thomas McNamara, 66′); Patrick Mullins (Sebastian Velazquez, 66′); David Villa (C)
Substitutes not used: Ryan Meara; Adam Nemec; Kwandwo Poku; Kwame Watson-Siriboe
Up Next for Real Salt Lake:
Real Salt Lake return to action Wednesday June 3rd at Stub Hub against the LA Galaxy.