Preview: RSL prepare to take on Vancouver Whitecaps
First and foremost I think you all deserve an apology from me and my lack of production and motivation over the last several weeks. Hopefully this won’t happen again and business will go on as usual. Don’t worry, I haven’t lost my love for the Claret and Cobalt, I just wasn’t proclaiming it.
Now is when the standings really count. It’s as if all the points count for a lot more now. It’s around now that teams really start to regret dropping points during the early stages of the season when the standings didn’t matter. Turns out they did all along!
The Whitecaps sit 3rd place in the Western Conference standings only 5 points below Real, who sits 4 points behind league leaders San Jose. So Vancouver is 9 points out of the Supporters’ Shield race and probably won’t challenge for the best regular season record this year. They’ve played the same amount of games as Real Salt Lake, so if Real wins, it will really put some daylight between the two competitors and Salt Lake will be able to afford to put more extra emphasis on CCL with not as much worry of being caught up to from behind.
Real has come up front and declared that they refuse to look past this fixture against Vancouver. That’s all fine with me but I definitely have a hunch that they’ll be resting several starters for a good portion of the match and reserve them for next Tuesday’s CONCACAF clash against our Group 2 foes, namely the Costa Rican club, Herediano.
So who can you expect to play and what should you expect from the team in general?
I expect Yordany Alvarez, who played a fantastic game against Colorado last week to put in some minutes tonight. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he started and was eventually subbed off in the second half by Kyle Beckerman who put some time in for the MLS All-Stars on Wednesday. Hopefully his keen ability to strip the ball off his opponents in the center of the pitch will be on display for all to see once again!
Sebastian Velasquez is definitely a candidate to play tonight. The young fan favorite hasn’t had much time on the field lately, but given the circumstances and the kid’s potential, there’s a very good chance he’ll be playing.
Hometown boy Justin Braun could make his debut tonight in front of his local crowd. With Paulo gone on lone it’s gonna be either Justin or Emi Bonfigli stepping in for some forwards that are bound to get some rest with the Champions League in mind. I’d expect Justin to get the nod not because he’s better than Emi, but more because he hasn’t had his chance to show what he can do on the field for RSL and his exposure would be could for the club from a local standpoint. After all, almost every soccer-playing boy in the crowd has a dream of playing on that field in a Real Salt Lake jersey!
What I really want from my club tonight is a performance like the one from the first game of the season, the 3-1 victory in California over the LA Galaxy while missing several starters. That was one of those games that shoots the RSL Pride through any fan’s veins and shouts out to the rest of MLS what Real Salt Lake is really about! Those are the games that make being a diehard fan worth more than anything else.
LONG LIVE RSL!!!