So what are we to expect from a Real Salt Lake side that has fared very well in their last several MLS matches and dropped an important CCL match 1-0 on the road in a game against their rivals that means nothing when it comes to the Rocky Mountain Cup?
Yes, that was a long, complicated question. Regardless of what people predict, it will be answered tonight. It’s still up in the air exactly when and for which games Real will be resting starters for, but the organization went out of their way to make several signings to prepare themselves for the upcoming stretch. Some of those signings need to start stepping up now.
We’ve already seen some of the guys further down the depth chart get their chance at first team action and several have excelled. Earlier in the season Emi Bonfigli was given an opportunity to show what he could do during the final minutes of a road game in Dallas, where RSL has historically struggled, he was able to step up and slot a shot into the back of the Dallas net to snatch back a point for Real. Despite his goal, his playing time really didn’t increase for the Claret and Cobalt, he still steps in when he needs to, but that’s usually only for the last several minutes of matches in which the outcome isn’t in any real doubt. I really believe Emi has real potential and will be a great asset for Real Salt Lake down the stretch, but the coaching staff hasn’t given him much time this season and I wouldn’t expect to see much of him tonight.
Kwame Watson-Siriboe and Kenny Mansally, our newcomers in the defense, have really stepped in well with Real, they were called upon from the moment they signed with Salt Lake. I’m really not sure how long these two will last at the club. They could end up becoming mainstays, or they could end up like most RSL mid-season additions and step in to fill injured players’ spots and then be subsequently waived when their spot is reclaimed. I really hope it’s not the latter. I’d expect Watson-Siriboe to step into the starting lineup in place of Jamison Olave who picked up an injury in our latest CONCACAF journey to Herediano of Costa Rica.
I do think there will be a change up top tonight given the bad form of Fabian Espindola in the clubs most recent fixture against their CCL foes. It’s happened before. Fabi loses his head and needs a little while to cool down, to come back and really be ready to contribute to the team. I don’t think he’ll feature much tonight, but he might get some minutes. In his place I think hometown boy Justin Braun will get the starting nod. He hasn’t had his chance yet with the first team and I’m sure the front office wants to see what he’ll do in a Real Salt Lake jersey. If he performs well tonight I’d expect him to slip right into the third-choice forward slot. The slot’s been up for grabs for a while since Paulo Jr. started to lose his form.
Here’s my starting XI:
Beltran : Borchers : Watson-Siriboe : Wingert
Johnson : Beckerman : Morales : Grabavoy
Braun : Saborio
GOOOOOOOOOO REAL SALT LAKE!!!