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!!!
RSL claims the Rocky Mountain Cup
Real falls to the Earthquakes 5-0
Awful. No excuses. Nothing more to say.
Real gets back on track with a 3-0 trouncing of the Timbers
Real ends their losing skid with a scoreless draw
Photo Credit: Taylor Fugate (smackdowntay.blogspot.com)
Jason Kreis said it himself, when the stakes are high and everyone’s watching Real Salt Lake seems to fumble and fall.
Humor me as I check out some of the statistics. Real Salt Lake is dominant at Rio Tinto. They always have been until lately. But look at the games in front of record crowds: Attendance of 20,382 two weeks ago against LA, 3-2 loss; Attendance of 20,415 against Chivas USA earlier this season, 1-0 loss; Attendance of 20,463 against Cruz Azul in a very neutral atmosphere with plenty of fans for the Mexican side, 3-1 win; Attendance of 20,507 in the 2011 season opening victory against the Galaxy, 4-1 win; Attendance of 20,738 for the CONCACAF Champions League final against Monterrey, 1-0 loss; Attendance of 20,762 at the game in which Javi made his return at the end of the 2011 season, 3-0 loss. What can be said of that? Four losses out of the six most popular games? From the team’s view it’s pretty bad. From the club’s standpoint, it’s awful. Winning in front of big crowds is what gets you a lot more fans a lot faster.
So why does this happen?
It’s hard to point a finger at one thing in particular. But if you were to choose the biggest reasons behind Real’s stage fright, you’d have to look at overconfidence and frustration.
Real aren’t a cocky team. They don’t go around getting themselves in the press for saying things they shouldn’t or talking bad on others or blaming poor games on anything but themselves. But when Real is playing well and forget to check themselves, they sometimes drop a few bad ones. Look at the Chivas USA game played at the RioT earlier this season. Real was coming off of an unseen spectacular start to their season and were coming home heroes. I don’t think their minds were too worried about a measly Chivas side that had struggled to start off the season. They played a strange game. Real Salt Lake was going through the motions, made a mistake, went down a goal and never recovered.
Frustration has been a killer against Real Salt Lake similar to the way it plays against the Men’s US National Team. They’re cruising along and come to a game in which the world seems to combine against them. They let in silly goals, and they cannot score for the life of them. While RSL’s frustration hasn’t reached to the level of the USMNT before the Jurgen Klinsmann era it’s still a major factor. Take a look at the CCL finale against Monterrey in which Fabian Espindola rushed himself a bit as he squandered an early chance and wasn’t able to play to his full potential for the rest of the game.
So what can you expect from a Real Salt Lake squad on a three game losing skid? A rebound.
There won’t be as many fans packed into Rio Tinto Stadium, the expectations will be lowered. Real will be taking on a Seattle squad that has been struggling tremendously as of late. It puts RSL in a prime position to overcome their opposition and really throw things back together!
GO REAL SALT LAKE!!!