Real Salt Lake's Sebastian Velasquez makes most of first postseason start
Sandy • After adding a spark in leg one of the Western Conference semifinal Sunday in Carson, Calif., Sebastian Velasquez made his first-ever playoff start in leg two Thursday night against the L.A. Galaxy at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Velasquez's insertion came on the heels of his performance at the StubHub Center, but was compounded with the loss of veteran Ned Grabavoy, whom Velasquez replaced, due to a left hamstring strain suffered Sunday.
All it took was 35 minutes to score his first ever professional goal. Velasquez's header in the 35th minute gave RSL a 1-0 halftime lead over the Galaxy.
"It felt good to go in and kind of bring a little bit of energy onto the group," Velasquez said earlier this week. "At the end of the day, we still lost, but I think in a way, the scoreline kind of gives us an urgency that we have to win."
The 22-year-old, second-year player out of Spartanburg Methodist College in South Carolina tallied three assists in nine starts in 2013.
Eight Real Salt Lake players were on the field at CenturyLink Field in 2009 when RSL perfected its storied run to winning its first ever MLS Cup, a win over the Galaxy that came in a penalty shootout.
Seven of those players started Thursday night against L.A.: captain Kyle Beckerman, Robbie Findley, Nat Borchers, Tony Beltran, Javier Morales, Nick Rimando and Chris Wingert. Grabavoy is the eighth. Beckerman and Rimando have played all 1,410 minutes in RSL's 15-game playoff history.
In search of a goal and a series win, three players in Thursday's night's starting lineup are considered the most prolific postseason performers in franchise history. Findley leads the team in all-time playoff goals with four, adding two assists. Forward Alvaro Saborio has scored three goals, while Morales has notched two goals and leads the franchise with all-time postseason assists with six.
RSL is 36-6-9 all time in games in which Saborio scores.
"We have nothing to lose," Rimando said Wednesday. "We've got to get one goal anyway if we want to move on, so we get the first one and then we can look for the second one."