CASA GRANDE, Ariz. – After kicking each other for the first nine days of its initial preseason camp, Real Salt Lake finally got the opportunity to square off against some other faces in exhibition play on Tuesday, but it was the really new faces of MLS expansion outfit Vancouver Whitecaps FC that would chalk up a 2-1 win over the Claret-and-Cobalt in the first official scrimmage of the 2011 MLS preseason. Real Salt Lake would trot out two different squads during the scrimmage played across three 45-minute halves, with 20 of the 24 players featuring during the contest getting a run of around 70 minutes on the Grande Sports World pitch to conclude the team’s 10-day camp in the desert.
The tone of the often times chippy affair was set in the 11th minute when RSL trialist DF Jamie Cunningham was shown yellow for a hard challenge in midfield against former RSL’er FW Atiba Harris, with Whitecaps FC MF Terry Dunfield returning the favor just two minutes later by cutting down MF Ned Grabavoy on the left flank. The attention would move to the scoreboard soon after in the 17th minute, as Whitecaps MF Russell Teibert ran onto FW Davide Chiumiento’s through ball up the center of the field and finished low and to the left of RSL netminder Tim Melia from 15 yards out. While the trio of MF Javier Morales and strikers Fabian Espíndola and Arturo Alvarez all displayed plenty of on-the-ball prowess during the opening stanza, the Utahans would be unable to break through, leaving the score 1-0 Whitecaps FC after the first 45 minutes.
That would change soon after the first intermission, when Alvarez would notch his first tally in an RSL uniform in the 49th minute. The opportunity began with some fine combination play by RSL just left of the penalty area that concluded when Grabavoy found Alvarez, who beat a defender and neatly finished past another RSL alumnus, GK Jay Nolly, to even the score at 1-1. The stalemate would be short-lived however, as Teibert’s corner kick in the 57th minute was knocked home from inside the six-yard box by Dunfield, bringing the score to 2-1 before the stroke of the hour.
After inserting rookies MF Drew Cost and FW Nick Love during the first intermission in place of Cunningham and MF Luis Gil, respectively, RSL Head Coach Jason Kreis would implement a full “line change” in the 68th minute, switching up his entire XI for the second portion of the contest. With plenty of fresh legs, the Claret-and-Cobalt would control the lion’s share of possession as the match progressed, but would prove unable to crack the Whitecaps FC backline, a header across the face of goal by FW Pablo Campos that was cleared off the line just before the end of the second period marking the most notable chance for the “second shift.”