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Rimando, Borchers and Espindola earn high marks
by Ridge Mahoney, April 21st, 2011 12:51AM
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TAGS:  concacaf champions league, mexico, mls, real salt lake

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[MONTERREY-REAL SALT LAKE REPORT CARD] Goalie Nick Rimando pulled off several fine saves, defender Nat Borchers scored a rare goal and forward Fabian Espindola was a thorn in the side of the opposing defense to earn the highest marks as Real Salt Lake earned a 2-2 away tie with Monterrey of Mexico in the first leg of the Concacaf Champions League final.

Starters
RATING/PLAYER
7 Nick Rimando. Tipped over fierce drive from Humberto Suazo and smothered a low attempt by Sergio Santana early in the match, covered everything except a point-blank shot Aldo De Nigris slotted into the open side of the goal and a laser penalty kick by Humberto Suazo. Charged out to hurry Suazo into chipping over the bar for what would have been a 3-1 lead.

5 Robbie Russell. Devoted a lot of time and energy to tracking Neri Cardozo and Walter Ayovi on the wing. Couldn’t close down the space on cross that led to Monterrey penalty kick, and was caught too far inside a couple of times yet won a lot of his battles.

7 Nat Borchers. Headed home a Will Johnson cross to equalize, got in a tackle on the Monterrey scoring sequence, cut out a few balls along the ground and repelled numerous crosses in the air. Solid play and dogged determination blunted Monterrey’s attempts at a third goal before and after RSL’s second equalizer.

6 Jamison Olave. Slipped a couple of times and once gave Suazo a clean crack at goal that Rimando saved. Gassed in second half yet still got back to repel a threatening cross from Cardozo, but minutes later blocked a cross with his arm to give Monterrey a penalty kick that Suazo converted. Fought through fatigue in the final minutes to preserve the tie.

5 Chris Wingert. Caught inside when Monterrey overloaded his side to set up its first goal, improved his positioning and decision-making in the second half when he quelled Sergio Perez several times. Grew in confidence to clean up second balls and knockdowns with passes rather than wild clearances.

6 Kyle Beckerman. Broke up a lot of Monterrey attacks, moved the ball smartly with RSL in possession. Rescued a dangerous situation in the 49th minute with a run and sliding tackle at the top of the arc, and after taking a caution that will rule him out of the second leg, re-asserted his presence in the middle.

6 Will Johnson. Caught inside on first Monterrey goal, slow to respond when attackers pushed into his area from deep positions in the first half yet hit excellent diagonal cross from midfield that Borchers nailed into the net. Free kick by Suazo hit his arm with no punishment. Stuffing Suazo on a counter highlighted a good second half.

5. Ned Grabavoy. Determined work in his own half limited Monterrey’s threats, bottled up when he tried to prompt attacks but kept his head and stayed in the game. Substituted early in the second half.

6 Javier Morales. Very quiet during the run of play for most of the game, played a lot of balls into opponents’ feet. Delivered a few good set plays, then stunned Monterrey in the final minutes with a great shimmy and shot low into the far corner for the second RSL goal.

7 Fabian Espindola. Very active and busy on and off the ball, drilled a first-half shot just over the bar, flicked a great ball to Saborio on a give-and-go. Shook off an early pop to the chops to unsettle Monterrey’s back line with strong runs and aggressive dribbles.

4 Alvaro Saborio. Failed to establish much connection with Espindola and Morales, and didn’t get much venom into his shots. Jumped well to reach a Morales corner kick that he headed straight to the keeper, couldn’t put a strong finish on flick from Espindola and shot weakly.

Substitutes
RATING/PLAYER
5 Andy Williams. Brought on for Grabavoy in the 57th minute, held the ball reasonably well, took a caution by knocking down Ricardo Osorio at midfield.

NR Tony Beltran. Took over for Russell in the 82nd minute and right away shut off Cardozo near the goal line. Locked down the right corner for the final minutes.

6 Arturo Alvarez. Added some energy after replacing Saborio in the 82nd minute, and from near the sideline clipped a nice ball that Morales turned into the second RSL goal.



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