Devon Sandoval

Real Salt Lake manager rolls the dice, comes up a huge winner vs. Vancouver (video)

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With the U.S. Open Cup final coming up in just three nights, Real Salt Lake manager Jason Kreis had little choice but to deploy a team of reserves Saturday against Vancouver.

Still, Kreis probably had to swallow hard in doing so. A quick look at the MLS standings before Saturday’s match at BC Place would show RSL near the top of the West, still with some hope of a conference title and a Supporters Shield.

Plus, keep far enough ahead of the Western Conference pack and the possibility exists that RSL could host the U.S. Open Cup final and MLS Cup in the same season. So, rolling the dice with the young guys was still a risk, even knowing that Tuesday’s Open Cup final (and keeping the top men rested for it) was so critical to the club.

So it really was an outstanding moment in the Real Salt Lake season when the young men came shining through. Real Salt Lake’s 1-0 win at Vancouver has to be one of the club’s top results of 2013, all things considered.

(By the way, Tuesday’s Open Cup opposition, D.C. United, did the same thing in strategically holding back its starters. But resting their best turned out markedly different in a 4-1 loss on the road.)

RSL rookie Devon Sandoval (pictured) had the first-half goal, a sharp header off Lovel Palmer’s perfectly placed cross. Luis Gil (age 19) was such a force in RSL’s young midfield, which kept possession for long stretches of the second half.

As Vancouver was reduced to a scattering of half-chances, the visitors looked more likely to pick up the game’s second goal. RSL’s Joao Plata even cracked one off the near post near the end.

For Vancouver, it is a massive case of “Opportunity lost.” To fall at home is one thing. To go down without a goal to a team full of reserves – even a deep team, full of quality reserves – will only add to the pressure surely mounting on manager Martin Rennie. With trips remaining into Colorado and Seattle, plus home matches with Portland and Colorado Vancouver’s playoff hopes took a huge blow Saturday.

Here is Sandoval’s early goal:


EURO 2016: Who’s headed to France?

PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC - OCTOBER 10: Volkan Sen of Turkey in action during the UEFA EURO 2016 Group A Qualifier match between Czech Republic and Turkey at Letna Stadium on October 10, 2015 in Prague, Czech Republic. (Photo by Matej Divizna/Getty Images)
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The group stage of qualification is complete, as 20 teams have clinched a berth at EURO 2016, which kicks off next summer in France.

The top-two finishers in each group automatically qualified, as did the best third-place side out of all the groups (Turkey). France qualified automatically as the host nation.

[ MORE: EURO 2016 roundup ]

That leaves eight third-place teams to battle for the final four spots through a play-off. The draw for the matchups will take place on October 18, and those matches will be held from November 12-17 as a home-and-home play-off.

Group A

  1. Czech Republic
  2. Iceland
  3. Turkey (automatically qualified as best third-place side)

Group B

  1. Belgium
  2. Wales
  3. Bosnia and Herzegovina (qualified for play-off)

Group C

  1. Spain
  2. Slovakia
  3. Ukraine (qualified for play-off)

Group D

  1. Germany
  2. Poland
  3. Republic of Ireland (qualified for play-off)

Group E

  1. England
  2. Switzerland
  3. Slovenia (qualified for play-off)

Group F

  1. Northern Ireland
  2. Romania
  3. Hungary (qualified for play-off)

Group G

  1. Austria
  2. Russia
  3. Sweden (qualified for play-off)

Group H

  1. Italy
  2. Croatia
  3. Norway (qualified for play-off)

Group I

  1. Portugal
  2. Albania
  3. Denmark (qualified for play-off)

EURO 2016: Dutch disaster as Netherlands fail to qualify

AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - OCTOBER 13:  Robin van Persie of the Netherlands (19) reacts during the UEFA EURO 2016 qualifying Group A match between the Netherlands and the Czech Republic at Amsterdam Arena on October 13, 2015 in Amsterdam, Netherlands.  (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
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The group stage of qualifying for the 2016 European Championship has come to a close, and one of the top teams in the world will not be playing in France next summer.

Netherlands 2-3 Czech Republic

The Netherlands finished second at the 2010 World Cup and third at the 2014 World Cup, but have failed to qualify for EURO 2016. Playing in front of a home crowd in a must-win match against the Czech Republic, the Dutch got off to a dreadful start, falling behind 2-0 as manager Danny Blind was forced to make a substitution within the opening 40 minutes. The Czech Republic was sent to ten men before the break, but an own-goal from Robin Van Persie made it 3-0 as the Dutch couldn’t recover. A disastrous result for the Netherlands, as big changes will surely come from the top down.

[ RELATED: David de Gea fighting for starting goalkeeper position with Spain ]

Italy 2-1 Norway

Italy finishes atop Group H without a loss after defeating Norway 2-1 today. Norway took the lead through Norwich City’s Alexander Tettey, but late goals from Alessandro Florenzi and Southampton’s Graziano Pelle gave the Italians all three points.

Malta 0-1 Croatia

With Norway’s loss, Croatia jumped into second place in Group H and secured qualification to EURO 2016 with a 1-0 win away at Malta. Inter Milan’s Ivan Perisic scored the game’s only goal, as Croatia advances despite having one point deducted due to inappropriate actions from their fans.

Elsewhere in EURO qualifying

Group A

Turkey 1-0 Iceland
Latvia 0-1 Kazakhstan

Group B

Belgium 3-1 Israel
Wales 2-0 Andorra
Cyprus 2-3 Bosnia and Herzegovina

Group H

Bulgaria 2-0 Azerbaijan