It is kinda fitting that the last match of the regular season will be against the same team that the preseason began against back on February 10th, now just days away from November RSL will wrap up their regular season by once again taking on the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday night.
Both sides would like to have some positives from the match heading into the MLS playoffs that start next week, for RSL it is about trying to get some folks healthy as 4 defenders are listed on the injury report (Chris Schuler, Kwame Watson-Siriboe, Jamison Olave and Tony Beltran), for the Whitecaps it is about getting a positive result, they have struggled the last couple months and with their “wildcard” match against the Galaxy next week they need to get things going in a positive direction.
The Whitecaps have struggled on the road with a 3-10-3 record and just 10 goals scored and 24 allowed, while RSL has been solid at home with an 11-4-1 record and 27 goals scored and 15 allowed. Neither side has come back from behind to get a win if they are trailing at halftime, RSL has come back after giving up the first goal to get 3 wins and a draw, while the Whitecaps have just a single victory and two draws after giving up the first goal.
Key Match Up:
None – Let’s be honest it is hard to say what either coach will do on Saturday, for the Whitecaps do you rest your guys for a huge match against LA next week or do you try to get you starters back in some type of form? Real Salt Lake will be dealing with some injury issues and probably looking to rest a few guys as well, despite having a lot at stake in the match. I have a feeling we will RSL rest a couple of guys who have picked up minor bumps and bruises over the recent weeks, guys like Will Johnson, Fabian Espindola, and Tony Beltran might get a bit of rest. That could mean that guys like Ned Grabavoy, Sebastian Velasquez, and David Viana could get some minutes to gain sharpness heading into the playoffs.
Vancouver should be trying to figure out how to get Darren Mattocks and Dane Richards more involved in their attack, both have seen limited action and neither is listed in the projected starting lineup for the Whitecaps, not sure how you leave your leading scored Mattocks (7 goals, 1 assist in 20 matches played) and the speed of Dane Richards (3 goals, 1 assist with VAN in 11 matches played) when you are heading into the playoffs, but it appears those are choices that Martin Rennie have made. So trying to figure out what these head coaches are thinking, not something I am going to try today.
Darren Mattocks – I have to believe that given more than 1229 minutes this year that Mattocks would have found himself in the thick of the MLS Rookie of the Year race, but a couple of injuries and other issues have seen his time limited. With 7 goals, including two game winners it is clear that Mattocks has some real talent, and when you add his pace into the mix you have a player with a promising future. I would think given the problems he has caused so many defenders this year that heading into the playoffs, that we should be seeing more of him, but I hope not too much on Saturday.
David Viana – It is clear that Viana and his agent didn’t make the move to RSL to not be a part of the action. We have seen in reserve matches that David has some real quality on the ball, enough that he made his first 18 man roster against the Sounders and was able to get into the match late for his first action in MLS. Could we see RSL see how he could do with a more normal batch of starters? We have seen how important subs can be during the playoffs in the past and getting some minutes could be huge for the newcomer. One of the things that has impressed me about Viana (granted I have only seen him in limited action) is that he appears to have a high soccer IQ and vision for passing, oh and he has a cracker of a shot and isn’t afraid to shoot.
Baldomero Toledo – Well hopefully seeing Toledo now means we may not see him in our playoff series with Seattle, hopefully. Despite being one of the more seasoned MLS officials with 145 matches under his belt, far too often we still see Baldomero trying to make the match about his authority as opposed to about the play of the players. He calls fairly average numbers of fouls (25.0 per match) and yellow cards (3.4 per match) but more than 1/3 of his matches have seen a PK issued (52) and he has issued 48 red cards as well. It had seemed that most matches had seen fairly decent officiating in recent weeks and I can only hope that keeps up heading into the playoffs.
There is no question that RSL should be able to pick up a win in this match, RSL has gotten back into solid form, Vancouver is struggling (that is being nice) and with the Whitecaps facing their first ever playoff match on Thursday against the LA Galaxy at the Home Depot Center, one has to expect them to rest some players. Even a full strength Vancouver is a team that RSL should be able to deal with, despite the 2 wins that the Whitecaps have up in Vancouver, in the 2 matches played at Rio Tinto is has been all RSL with 2 wins and a overall 4-1 advantage in goals scored. I am going to say RSL picks up a 2-0 win over the Whitecaps.
That’s How I See It