Real Salt Lake learns their first 3 opponents of 2013, but still wait on Javier Morales.

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MLS in its annual bizarre habit of releasing some of its schedule, the home openers for all 19 teams, but not the complete schedule continues in 2012.  I have never really understood this habit, or why it is that it takes MLS oh so long to release their schedule.  I have been able to look at the 2013 schedule for months, despite them starting after MLS, having more teams and more games.  I can understand some of the issues for MLS in the past when they have added teams, changed venues, or completely revamped the format of the league, but this year there are no new teams, no new stadiums scheduled to open, and the blueprint for the schedule was laid out last year.  Still here we are just 90 some days before the start of the regular season, and we get the home openers announced, anyhow.

What does that mean for RSL fans?

We now know the first 3 matches that RSL will play in the 2013 MLS season, as expected the early start date (there will be a longer FIFA break for Gold Cup in 2013) means that RSL will open the season on the road.  Nothing new there, and for the 3rd straight year it will be a trip to California to start the season, this time it is back to San Jose to take on the 2013 Supporters’ Shield winning Earthquakes. That match will take place on Sunday, March 3rd 2013 at Buck Shaw Stadium, sounds like a great time for a road trip to me, would have been better had it been a Saturday match.  RSL started the 2010 and 2011 seasons at Buck Shaw and were able to get opening days win, in fact RSL has won their last 3 opening day matches which were all played on the road.

RSL will then trek all the way across the map to the East coast (remember this new format of schedule is to reduce travel) to take on D.C. United just 6 days later on Saturday, March 9th 2013 at RFK Stadium.  This should be a great match as well as the opener, DC was a very good team last year and the off-season should allow Dwayne DeRosario time to recover fully from the injury that sidelined him at the end of the 2012 season.  RSL was able to get a 1-0 win over DC at Rio Tinto Stadium last fall, many fans will probably remember that match for the long lightning delay as much as the early second half goal by Will Johnson.

DC United is one of 5 Eastern Conference teams that RSL hosted in 2012, which means they are teams we will play at their home venues in 2013.  The other 4 teams are; New York Red Bulls, Montreal Impact, Toronto FC and the New England Revolution.  Five Eastern Conference teams will make the trip to Rio Tinto in 2013, they are; Sporting KC, Chicago Fire, Columbus Crew, Philadelphia Union, and the Houston Dynamo.

We also know that in the Western Conference that we will again face each team 3 times, this year the following teams will make the trip to Rio Tinto twice, while RSL will visit them each once this year; the defending MLS Cup Champions – LA Galaxy, Chivas USA, Seattle Sounders,  and the San Jose Earthquakes.  Three of those teams were in the top 4 in the Western Conference with RSL last year, so playing them twice at home could be a real advantage.  That means that RSL will only get one visit from and make two trips to; Portland Timbers, FC Dallas, Vancouver Whitecaps, and the Colorado Rapids.

So speaking of the Colorado Rapids, they will be the opponents for RSL’s home opener on Saturday, March 16th 2013. The Rocky Mountain Cup will be kicked off on early next year and with the Rapids only making one trip to Rio Tinto in 2013, it should make for a most interesting way to kick off the home portion of the schedule for RSL.  The Rocky Mountain Cup competition has been dominated by RSL, who have claimed the trophy for each of the last 6 seasons.  I think it is clever scheduling by RSL who know that traditionally the early season home matches have had a bit lower attendance due to weather and other factors, by scheduling the teams closest rival it could provide for a very full stadium if not a sell out for their home opener.

So while exact dates and locations for RSL’s remaining 31 MLS matches are a mystery for now, the schedule news is a welcomed sign that we are moving closer and closer to the 2013 season and for RSL fans there is still one huge bit of news that most are waiting for.  The status of Javier Morales, we know that RSL made an offer but we have been told by RSL GM Garth Lagerwey that Javi also has received offers from Mexico to play there.  I had hoped that we would have a resolution to this issue by now, but still nothing official and nothing unofficial has been circulating the last couple of weeks.  This decision by Morales will have a huge impact on the other moves that RSL can and could have to make, and I have to believe that a deadline is looming for both player and team.

One can’t expect that RSL would be able to head into the MLS Draft, or the international transfer window without knowing if they will have their creative playmaker back for 2013 or not.  I am still holding out hope that perhaps we will know before Christmas, but it seems to me that the longer we are left without an answer the more unlikely it is that we will see Javi back next year.

That’s How I See It.

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