WASHINGTON, D.C. — RSL coach John Ellinger called the play of newcomer Melvin Tarley the lone bright spot in Wednesday's 5-1 loss at D.C. United.
Not only did he scored Salt Lake's first goal in the 51st minute, Tarley was pretty dangerous throughout the game and appeared to link up well with Jason Kreis at times.
But even though he thinks he played well, Tarley believes he can do much better.
Salt Lake acquired Tarley from USL First Division squad Minnesota over the weekend. No one was surprised he scored in his debut.
In three U.S. Open Cup games with Minnesota against MLS squads this year, the 22-year-old Liberian-born striker has an amazing six goals, including two against Real Salt Lake in a 6-4 win for the Thunder on July 13.
The Thunder have advanced to the semifinals, and as part of the loan agreement with Minnesota, RSL will loan Tarley back to Minnesota when it plays Los Angeles on Sept. 14.
"When you're in the lower division, you always want to show the guys in the higher division that you can do better than them, so you come out with 110, 120 percent," said Tarley. "Here it's kind of different because everyone is on the same level."
Based on how he played in his debut, Tarley would seem to be a likely starter when Salt Lake returns home this Saturday to face New England.
ANOTHER DINGED DEFENDER: RSL right back Nelson Akwari injured his left groin late in the first half Wednesday, and was eventually replaced in the line-up by Adolfo Gregorio.
His status adds to a slew of injuries to RSL's backline.
Usual starting right back Rusty Pierce didn't make the trip because of a lingering hamstring injury, while Chris Brown was also home nursing a hamstring injury. Even though Brown is primarily a forward, he has filled in and played well as a defender this year.
It doesn't help either central defender Gustavo Cabrera is away with the Guatemalan national team.
FIRST SUSPENSION: By picking up two yellow cards Wednesday, not only was rookie midfielder Kenny Cutler sent off for the final 11 minutes of the game with D.C., but he'll also be suspended for this Saturday's game.
Cutler joins Clint Mathis, Eddie Pope, Brian Dunseth and Jamie Watson as RSL players who have been red-carded this year.