By TYLER GRAY
Whenever there is an injury or suspension, it opens a place in the squad for another player to prove themselves. For Real Salt Lake on Wednesday evening, reserve midfielder Cole Grossman stepped onto the field in the second half and saved a point in a game that looked a sure defeat.
After entering the match in the 82nd minute, Grossman provided the late-game heroics to give RSL a 3-3 draw with the Portland Timbers, scoring his first MLS goal off a deflected shot by teammate Luis Gil. It was just the second appearance of the season for Grossman, and the first since March 23. Following the match, RSL head coach Jason Kreis said he was happy that reserve players could get a chance to play and take advantage of their opportunities.
“Everybody has really bought into what’s been asked and has given everything they can to learn the system,” Kreis said. “I’m hoping that we will continue to reap some rewards for that, especially as we enter the end of the season. We’re literally going to have no player on our roster, I don’t think, that won’t be ready to play in the biggest games.”
With Grossman’s tally on Wednesday, RSL have had 16 different players score a goal this season across all competitions, tying last season’s mark with eight games yet to be played.
Here are some more notes from RSL’s mid-week match:
ALVAREZ FACES ANOTHER SUSPENSION
In his first game back in the lineup following a three game suspension, RSL midfielder Yordany Alvarez couldn’t even make it to full time without hurting his team again.
Alvarez was shown a straight red card in the 79th minute of Wednesday’s match after he had a strong and late challenge on Portland Timbers midfielder Diego Chara. While it’s unknown whether Alvarez will face further punishment from the MLS Disciplinary Committee, he will at the least miss Saturday’s match against the Columbus Crew.
Ironically, the last time that Alvarez saw a red card this season was also the last time before Wednesday that Cole Grossman had played, on March 23 against FC Dallas. The red card brings Alvarez’s season totals to two red cards and four yellow cards.
Alvarez was suspended three games for a studs-up tackle against the New York Red Bulls last month that only earned him a yellow card at the time, though the Disciplinary Committee punished him afterwards.
SET PIECES CONTINUE TO BE A PROBLEM
For all of RSL’s achievements on Wednesday night, one negative from their performance was giving up another set piece goal. The Timbers’ first goal of the evening came off a beautifully delivered free kick by Diego Valeri that teammate Rodney Wallace easily headed home.
“We take pride in not giving up things on set pieces and trying to get stuff at the other end on set pieces,” right back Tony Beltran told RSL.com. “So, it’s a big disappointment to give up that goal but we have to move forward from it.”
Set-piece defense has been something of a problem for RSL this year and midfielder Ned Grabavoy isn’t quite sure of what to make of it.
“It could be a number of things,” Grabavoy said to RSL.com. “I’m looking sometimes and it seems like everyone is looking around and we’re a bit unorganized. It shouldn’t be that way, everyone should know where they’re supposed to be. We need to clean that up. We can’t just keep talking about it.”
What do you think of these notes? Impressed with Grossman’s goal? Do you see Alvarez losing playing time in the future for his actions? Do you believe that Chris Schuler’s eventual return can help the side’s set piece woes?
Share your thoughts below.