Real Salt Lake midfielder Yordany Alvarez made quite an impression when he scored his first career MLS goal on June 29.
His blast from outside the box gave Real the 1-0 win over Toronto FC its first victory in Canada and fans recently voted the goal as the MLS Goal of the Week.
"It felt good," Alvarez said after training on Tuesday. "I felt good finally getting my first goal. The important thing is that it was the first victory in Canada."
Alvarez played alongside captain Kyle Beckerman in the midfield in that win and has taken over the center midfield role from Beckerman while the captain is on national duty with the U.S. in the Gold Cup. Alvarez is looking to continue his quality play in Beckerman's absence for the rest of July.
But this Saturday, when Real travels for an MLS regular-season matchup with FC Dallas, part of Alvarez's heart will be in Salt Lake, where the Cuban national team will take on the U.S. in a Gold Cup group stage match.
"It's weird because it's never happened to me that Cuba is coming to play in the city where I live," Alvarez said.
The 28-year-old can't play for his country after defecting in 2008 while playing in Florida with the under-23 Cuban national team.
Alvarez said the players on the Cuban national team have no problem with him, and that if he were in town, he would be at Rio Tinto to watch his country play, and to help his countrymen however he could.
"But the relationship with the country is different," Alvarez said. "I made the decision not to return to my country and stay in the United States playing soccer. And my country calls me a traitor."
No challenge of 'undeserved' red card
General manager Garth Lagerwey said he would not petition MLS to overturn Lovel Palmer's red card from last Wednesday against Philadelphia. Following the match, coach Jason Kreis called the red card undeserved and was critical of the referee, but there will be no challenge and Palmer will miss Saturday's match in Dallas.
Kreis must deal with backline issues
With regular right back Tony Beltran away on national duty and his replacement, Palmer, suspended, Kreis said that it would likely open a starting spot for Abdoulie Mansally. Kreis said he also could move a player out of his natural position to start at right back.
At center back, Kreis praised the play of Aaron Maund in the win over Toronto but was critical of Carlos Salcedo's most recent performance against Philadelphia. "So there's an interesting situation," Kreis said. "There's a real decision for us to make about who will start this weekend."
RSL at Dallas FC
P Saturday, 7 p.m.
TV • CW30