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Kragthorpe: Right about RSL, wrong about Utah, BYU

Published December 2, 2013 5:10 pm

Hindsight • Kansas City's stoppage-time goal vs. RSL in July is why it is hosting MLS Cup
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Some would say this was just a throwaway line, resulting from a desperate search for an angle with the deadline approaching.

Personally, I view it as a case of remarkable foresight. I'll own up to some failures, but only after revisiting what I wrote in July, when Sporting Kansas City beat Real Salt Lake 2-1 with a late goal: "This game may be remembered in December, which would not be a good thing for Real Salt Lake."

I explained that RSL's losing instead of tying ultimately might make the difference in the Major League Soccer standings, determining the host of the MLS Cup final.

RSL played a man down for the last 30 minutes after Chris Wingert's second yellow card. Kyle Beckerman, Nick Rimando, Álvaro Saborío and Tony Beltrán missed the game because of the international Gold Cup, so Jeff Attinella was RSL's goalkeeper. My enduring image is RSL coach Jason Kreis' pointing to his wrist, wanting the official to declare the end of stoppage time, only to have Sporting KC's Ike Opara score the winning goal.

Sure enough, without those extra two points for the victory, Sporting KC would have finished behind RSL and Saturday's title game would have been played at Rio Tinto Stadium. So I got that one right. In fairness, I'll make myself accountable for some less accurate observations:

The Jazz

In warning that this team would be more painful to watch than a lot of people were anticipating, I still figured the Jazz would finish 27-55.

The Jazz's 2-15 start made that kind of record seem way out of reach. But if they play the way they did in beating Phoenix and Houston, their win total should be somewhere in the 20s.

It took a Boy Scout working on his communications merit badge to make me realize Jazz management may have gone too far in sacrificing this season to have a high draft pick and money to spend next summer. Zack Spackman of Riverton wanted to know why the Jazz have no capable point guard (other than rookie Trey Burke) and not much outside shooting ability, and he wondered how long fans would stick with them.

Good questions, although some answers came Monday. As bleak as November was, the Jazz do have a plan.

Gordon Hayward is being asked to do a lot in the offense, and he responded with 29 points in a 109-103 win over Houston. Burke and Alec Burks added 21 each.

College football

In April, following spring practices, I projected these regular-season finishes: Utah 7-5, BYU 6-6, Utah State 8-4. Missing by a total of four games among three schools is reasonable, except there's a big difference between playing in a bowl game and having a losing record, in Utah's case.

I did correctly say Utah's season would hinge on home games vs. Oregon State, UCLA and Arizona State. The Utes (5-7) lost them all, by a total of 11 points. Utah's win over Stanford was unexpected, balancing the loss at Washington State.

As for BYU (8-4), I figured the Cougars would lose two of these four games: Texas and Boise State at home and Houston and Nevada on the road. They won them all, although the road victories required some effort.

I also failed to predict that Utah would produce a commemorative T-shirt for the win over Colorado or that BYU linebacker Kyle Van Noy would become engaged to famed Miss USA contestant Marissa Powell.

My forecast said Utah State (8-4) "should win its last five games," and that's what happened. The crazy thing about the Aggies' record is it would probably be the same, with or without their star quarterback.

Chuckie Keeton didn't single-handedly win any games in September, and USU went 5-1 after his knee injury. Keeton may have made a difference in the Aggies' loss to Boise State, however, and he would have given them a much greater chance of beating Fresno State in the Mountain West championship game Saturday.


Twitter: @tribkurt






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