Phenom Besagno returns to U-17
Nikolas Besagno, Real Salt Lake's No. 1 pick in Major League Soccer's SuperDraft, will return to Florida today to continue training with the United States U-17 team.
The 16-year old spent a week with RSL - playing in a reserve-team game and practicing with the team. He watched Saturday night's game, a 2-2 tie with San Jose, from the bench.
There was at least one player who was happy to have him around - 19-year old Jamie Watson. As the youngest player on RSL's roster, it's Watson who always gets put in the middle during keepaway drills at practices and such. He's had a brief reprieve.
"I always got the teasing being the young guy,'' Watson said. "Now I just pass it on to Nik."
Though Besagno and Watson left their families at an early age to train with the national team, Besagno did it at a younger age then Watson, who thinks the off-field adjustments can be challenging.
"It's tough," Watson said. "We'll have to see how he handles it. If things off the field are not right, it always comes out on the field. But, if he's OK, then everything's OK."
Besagno will graduate from high school in Florida on May 20 and rejoin RSL in June.
Watson and Besagno have played with Freddy Adu at the national level. D.C. United's 15-year-old phenom joined the league a year ago. Adu lives with family in the D.C. area.
"At 15, I was still playing high school soccer," Watson said. "And I thought that was the greatest thing in the world. He's just got the God-given talent."
Tickets? No problem
Real Salt Lake's ticket woes from two weeks ago didn't carry over to their second home-game, although the announced crowd of 16,254 was significantly smaller than the opening-day's 25,000-plus.
Still, the walk-up crowd was still about 5,000. Extra ticket booths and preprinted tickets helped improve the process, though, and waits weren't nearly as long as on opening day.
But general manager Steve Pastorino was out in front of Rice-Eccles Stadium before the game to monitor the situation, just in case.
By the numbers
Real Salt Lake doubled it's scoring total for the season with a pair of goals on Saturday night. And forward Jason Kreis, who scored both of them, drew closer to his magic number.
Kreis, MLS' all-time leading scorer, is six goals short of 100 after Nos. 93 and 94, both in the first half.
"Before this game we had two goals in four games,'' goalkeeper D.J. Countess said. "It's good to see we're moving beyond that."