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Sandy • Craig Waibel was asked late Tuesday night to rate the performances he's seen from his club just three games into 2015. In his first year on the job as Real Salt Lake's technical director, Waibel laughed and took a long pause before exclaiming, "Pretty good."
"We're a team that's figuring out a new system, new combinations and we're getting results in the middle of it and there's a lot of teams that go through challenges that can't figure out ways to get results," Waibel said. "Right now, we're three games into this and it's unfair to make true assessment."
RSL (1-0-2) has five points through its first three outings ahead of its second Western Conference meeting of the season as it travels to the Bay Area this weekend to take on Waibel's old club, the San Jose Earthquakes (2-0-2) on Easter Sunday. But Waibel said early-season points or any scrappy result throughout a season, for that matter can go a long way in the grand scheme of a lengthy Major League Soccer season.
"The points are on the board, they might not be the prettiest points," he said, "but I'd go back a year and take ugly points against Chivas [USA] and be one spot higher out West come playoff time. We're not above taking ugly points."
Right back Tony Beltran said Wednesday after training that he's impressed that his team, despite some struggles in the new formation, remains unbeaten.
"Yes, we have five points out of the first three games, but still, everybody knows that soccer-wise, this isn't our best and it needs to get better and everybody has the desire and attitude and want to improve," Beltran said.
Where's Wondo? • Players and coaches haven't exactly spelled it out this way, but the No. 1 objective in facing the San Jose Earthquakes is locating Chris Wondolowski. As much as possible. It's the same storyline RSL has encountered the last six seasons when he the 32-year-old striker started his string of five-consecutive seasons of double-digit scoring outputs.
In four matches this season, Wondolowski already has three goals. Since he entered MLS 11 years ago, he has 96 career goals.
So yeah, try and find that guy.
"Chris is a heck of a player, and the interesting thing is, being in a couple of [national team] camps with him, he's got a lot of quality, too," Beltran said. "He's a good soccer player, he's not just a born finisher, which is what he does most often that's what he gets the acclaim for, but he'll play good soccer throughout the game and you really can't lose him for a second because that's where he makes his living, that's where he makes you pay."
Demar Phillips inching closer • RSL coach Jeff Cassar said Wednesday that left back Demar Phillips is close to overcoming a lingering hamstring injury that started in mid-February. The 31-year-old Jamaican international made his RSL debut in the club's 3-3 home-opener against the Philadelphia Union on March 14, but Phillips re-aggravated the injury and was taken off in the second half when he informed the staff that his hamstring was tightening.
"He's 90 percent," Cassar said of Phillips. "It's that last 10 [percent] coming. It's making sure he's really confident at top-end speed, and he's getting there."
Sandoval finds inspiration • Still unsure which song it was exactly that convinced RSL striker Devon Sandoval to take propose to longtime girlfriend Cristin Anderson two hours before Sunday's nationally-televised match against Toronto FC. But the third-year forward found inspiration to pop the question last Tuesday after listening to some Bob Marley.
He told FOX Sports 1 exactly that before starting in RSL's 2-1 win over TFC.