Carson, Calif. • Aaron Maund took what first-year head coach Jeff Cassar described as "big steps forward" during Real Salt Lake’s six-week preseason.
On Saturday afternoon, Cassar tabbed the 23-year-old defender to start alongside veteran Nat Borchers in the 2014 Major League Soccer season opener and rivalry match against the L.A. Galaxy at the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif.
"[Maund’s] going to challenge for some time as long as he continues competing," Cassar said on March 2.
Maund replaces defender Chris Schuler in the RSL starting lineup after Schuler, who turned in a dominant six-week stretch to close the 2013 MLS season, continues to recover and gain fitness following off-season surgery on a lingering foot issue.
Maund, who played collegiately at Notre Dame, is a former first-round pick by Toronto FC (12th overall) in the 2012 MLS SuperDraft. He was acquired by RSL in a trade for forward and Skyline High School product Justin Braun on Dec. 3, 2012. Maund’s start against the Galaxy Saturday night makes it his fourth regular-season starting nod for RSL.
Entering Saturday’s first match of 2014, RSL won four straight MLS season-openers dating back to 2010. In 2013, RSL topped San Jose 2-0 at Buck Shaw Stadium, beat the Galaxy 3-1 in 2012, and San Jose again 1-0 in 2011 as well as 2010 in a 3-0 rout.
"Our main thing is just keep steadily improving through the season," said RSL captain Kyle Beckerman on Wednesday. "If three points comes on Saturday, then great. If not, we’ll keep moving forward."
Gold against the Galaxy
RSL midfielder Javier Morales likes to play against the Galaxy. The 34-year-old Argentinian has notched five goals and eight assists in 14 previous regular-season matches against L.A. during his seven-year career with RSL. He’s tied for most regular-season goals against L.A. — former forward Fabian Espindola also has five — yet Morales is tied for eighth in MLS history with those eight assists against the Galaxy.
Goalkeeper Nick Rimando became the RSL player with most career starts against the Galaxy Saturday night with his 17th career start, moving past former midfielder and assistant coach Andy Williams.
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