Join Now  | 
Home About Contact Us Privacy & Security Advertise
Soccer America Daily Soccer World Daily Special Edition Around The Net Soccer Business Insider College Soccer Reporter Youth Soccer Reporter Soccer on TV Soccer America Classifieds Game Report
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalk Soccer America Confidential Youth Soccer Insider World Cup Watch
RSS Feeds Archives Manage Subscriptions Subscribe
Order Current Issue Subscribe Manage My Subscription Renew My Subscription Gift Subscription
My Account Join Now
Tournament Calendar Camps & Academies Soccer Glossary Classifieds
Alvarez deal symbolizes RSL's acumen
by Ridge Mahoney, April 22nd, 2011 4:26PM
Subscribe to Soccer America Confidential

MOST READ
TAGS:  concacaf champions league, mls, real salt lake

MOST COMMENTED

Like many players, Arturo Alvarez has been around, and like a select few who currently wear the colors of Real Salt Lake, may have found the right fit at the foot of the Wasatch Range.

Formerly of FC Dallas and San Jose, used as both a forward and wide midfielder, and once hopeful of a spot on the U.S. national team before switching his allegiance to El Salvador, Alvarez epitomizes a type of skillful, streaky attacker who isn’t quite worthy of consistent starts but is of great value in spot duty and off the bench.

In the RSL pecking order among forwards, he’s a definite fourth behind Alvaro Saborio, Fabian Espindola and young Brazilian Paulo Araujo Jr., and as such didn’t figure to see much time – barring injuries or red cards – in the Concacaf Champions’ League finals against Monterrey. The play of Araujo Jr. while on loan last year from Miami FC, particularly in the CCL, prompted RSL to bring him back, and he’s been first choice either as sub or when Saborio or Espindola can’t start.

Before that deal came to fruition, though, in late November RSL had sent a second-round draft pick to Portland a few hours after the Timbers claimed Alvarez from San Jose in the Expansion Draft. What seemed to be a minor move paid off hugely against Monterrey Wednesday; with Araujo Jr. injured and unable to play because of a strained hamstring, Alvarez got a spot on the bench, and in the 82nd minute replaced a laboring Saborio.

Upon signing Alvarez, 25, the RSL staff lauded his ability to disrupt defenses with speed and aggression, yet he also fits the team philosophy of fielding players with good feet. With less than two minutes left in regulation and RSL trailing, 2-1, Alvarez collected a loose ball near the sideline, and with a delicate flick of his foot gave Javier Morales a chance to score the equalizer, which he did by shimmying past a defender and shooting low inside the far post.

“Arturo [Alvarez] made a good play on the outside to give me the ball,” said Morales, who like Saborio had been quelled by Monterrey for much of the game. “I touched it and that’s when the defender came to me. I tried to cut and cross the ball and was happy because it ended up as a goal.”

In building their squad, in addition to game-changers acquired internationally such as Saborio, Espindola, Morales and defender Jamison Olave, general manager Garth Lagerwey and head coach Jason Kreis have also culled a remarkable array of first-teamers with MLS experience elsewhere.

Will Johnson (Chicago), Nick Rimando (D.C. United), Chris Wingert and Kyle Beckerman (both Colorado), Ned Grabavoy (Los Angeles), and Andy Williams (five teams, most recently Chicago) all came to Salt Lake City from domestic rivals. Ex-Rapid Nat Borchers stopped over in Scandinavia before coming back to MLS. Beckerman, Rimando and Williams were also teammates with the defunct Miami Fusion.

The addition of Alvarez mirrors a commitment made a year and a half ago, when RSL’s triumph against the Galaxy in MLS Cup 2009 qualified it for the 2010-11 CCL. Kreis and Lagerwey knew back then the importance of depth, and at RSL, backups do not just fill spots on the roster. With a squad of 28, two below the league maximum of 30, RSL spread around an additional $100,000 in allocation money supplied by MLS to CCL participants and signed most of its regulars to long-term deals rather than add two more players.

RSL could never have reached this stage without talent, skill, and determination at least comparable to the top Concacaf teams in other countries. It received scheduling breaks from MLS during the semifinals, and MLS moved its game with Philadelphia this weekend to September to increase its readiness for the second leg on Wednesday at Rio Tinto Stadium, where it is unbeaten in 37 games.

As a team, RSL’s advancement to the brink of a regional club title is a study in smart tactics and intelligent deployment of talented personnel. As an organization, its management of limited resources to succeed against richer clubs may be an even greater accomplishment, and a challenge to its league foes.



0 comments
  1. David Sirias
    commented on: April 22, 2011 at 6:41 p.m.
    The entire RSL management should be applauded regardless of the result next week. They have shown that a very good team can be assembled within MLS financial parameters. But it requires smarts and vision, and one other thing: excellent coaching. Not just average. Kreis has his teams ready to go like horses at Pimlico. And Kreis understands that the teams that can keep possession and attack relentlessly usually win because they wear down the other team. Kreis looks for people that can play football, not anti-football; Possession as defense ala the Spanish. That is why teams like the Revolution will never win an MLS trophy with the staff they have in place. We have RSL and NYRB to thank for showing MLS that you need not play with enforcers/goons/huffers in central defense and midfield to win games in north america---rather, just hard working intelligent guys who can work in small spaces and find/get open for their teammates.
  1. David Huff
    commented on: April 26, 2011 at 4:01 p.m.
    The RSL organization seems to be doing everything right, not just their winning play but stylistically as well as their approach to using and developing players. Bravo!

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Soccer America Confidential
Dempsey: Qualifying for the World Cup is bigger than breaking scoring records    
In his bid to "stay relevant" and in the plans of national team head coach Bruce ...
Bruce Arena makes the USA fun to watch    
Before Friday's game against Honduras, I wondered whether the U.S. national team would bring joy to ...
Michael Bradley: USA prepared 'to tilt the bar in our favor' early against Honduras    
As they train in San Jose for a crucial Hexagonal match against Honduras on Friday, the ...
Next move for Real Salt Lake is the most crucial in a decade    
The history of RSL is one of remarkable stability -- just three head coaches since starting ...
U.S. roster announcement: Bruce Arena's return marked by a singleness of purpose    
Multiply the left-back debate with a few more positions each with several candidates and you'll have ...
Quakes encouraged but not giddy after impressive opener    
Four seasons without playoffs has left the fervent fans in San Jose discouraged, but a ray ...
MLS 1-22: Ranking the teams on the eve of a new season    
Eight different teams have played in the last four MLS Cup finals and last year, 2015 ...
Random thoughts as the MLS season draws near    
The 2017 MLS season starts next Friday, March 3, more than a month earlier than the ...
Walker Zimmerman joins the U.S. centerback pool with solid performance    
Two FC Dallas centerbacks were summoned to the first U.S, camp of 2017 and after Matt ...
Rare USA golazo inspires some hope    
One swallow doesn't make a summer, but the USA delivered something impressive with its goal in ...
>> Soccer America Confidential Archives