Sandy • Real Salt Lake forward Devon Sandoval stepped out onto the field as a late substitute in the 87th minute of Sunday’s season opener at San Jose. The rookie’s first regular-season minutes in Major League Soccer were in front of a sellout crowd of 10,525 at Buck Shaw Stadium.
A day later, Sandoval scored a goal to give RSL’s reserves a 1-0 victory in a decidedly less thrilling — but equally important setting.
Major League Soccer unveiled the season’s reserve schedule on Wednesday. RSL will play 14 reserve games in all, four more than least year.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” Sandoval said. “That’s where you get better, playing games and getting more minutes.”
Teams do not have much control over the league’s reserve schedule, but RSL coach Jason Kreis said the club pushed for as many games as possible early in the year. RSL will play seven reserve matches before May, giving a team heavy on young players and newcomers to the team a chance to mesh.
Kreis also had high praises for Sandoval’s performance so far this year.
“With me and with this club, there’s one thing that is always going to resonate, and that’s hard work,” he said. “He has just a tremendous amount of desire and a tremendous ability to work through anything. And he did that in the preseason, and he just got better and better and better as the preseason wore on.”
Defender plays through a mistake
Defender Kenny Mansally struggled in the first half of Sunday’s 2-0 win over the Earthquakes. After Mansally gave up a pair of unnecessary corners, Kreis said he considered pulling the left back.
However, Kreis changed his mind after watching Mansally make “a very good tackle middle to late in the first half I thought may have brought him some confidence.” Mansally rewarded his coach later in the game, sending a ball to an unmarked Joao Plata, who delivered a perfect pass of his own for RSL’s first goal of the match.
Ecuadorian forward a ‘work in progress’
Plata was dubbed a game-changer after coming in for forward Robbie Findley in the 65th minute. But the Ecuadorian isn’t ready to contribute major minutes yet.
“I’m really concerned with his fitness level right now,” Kreis said. “It’s something we know we have to address. He joined us late in our preseason. I’m not sure what he did in the offseason, but it doesn’t look like much. He’s going to be a work in progress.”
RSL at DC United
O Saturday, 5 p.m.
TV • Ch. 4
RSL reserve schedule
March 4 • 1-0 win at San Jose Earthquakes
March 17 • vs. Colorado Rapids
March 31 • vs. Seattle Sounders FC
April 7 • at Colorado Rapids
April 14 • at Vancouver Whitecaps FC
Aprill 22 • vs. Phoenix FC
April 28 • vs. LA Galaxy
May 20 • at Chivas USA
June 2 • vs. San Jose Earthquakes
June 15 • at Phoenix FC
July 16 • vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC
Aug. 31 • vs. Portland Timbers
Sept. 8 • at Portland Timbers
Sept. 24 • vs. Chivas USA