RSL scored at least a goal in their first 8 matches, actually RSL scored 2 goals in 6 of their first 8 matches. However in the last 3 RSL has been unable to find the back of the net, so heading into a big match at Sporting KC, they will look to heat things up, scoring, winning, and hopefully not fouls and cards.
For the last 5 years the budding rivalry has been one of the best on the pitch rivalries in MLS, what got heated up in the preseason of 2011 hit a peak on a chilly December day in 2013 as the teams fought for the MLS Cup in a match filled with controversy and eventual heartbreak for RSL in PKs. How tight is the rivalry, since that preseason match RSL and KC have each won 4 matches and there have been just 2 draws. The edge goes to RSL in recent history, as SKC hasn’t beaten RSL since that December MLS Cup match, RSL has actually won the last 3 matches 2-1, including their first trip to Children’s Mercy Park earlier this year.
Both sides are a close to fit as one could expect this time of year, RSL probably has the most question marks in their starting lineup, but there will be no excuses on Saturday. Both sides will lose players after this match as Copa Americana gets started in a couple weeks, for the USMNT 3 players will highlight in the match. RSL’s Kyle Beckerman will join SKC’s Graham Zusi and Matt Besler as part of the 23 man US roster.
Both of these teams are on 17 points, both sides have given up 14 goals and neither side has a positive goal differential. Of course RSL has played 3 fewer matches, which could be seen as both a positive and negative as far as these number go. So who will come out on top on Saturday? and why?
Both of these sides needs a positive result as both are 1-3-0 in their last 4, the difference is RSL’s win was 4 matches ago while SKC picked theirs up last weekend. Based on recent history in the rivalry as well as how each team has fared so far this season, one could expect a 2-1 RSL win. As I mentioned before that has been the result the last 3 times these two have faced off, RSL’s most common amount of goals scored 2, allowed 1. For Sporting, their most common number of goals scored in a match this year is 1, and 4 times they have given up 2 goals (their most common amount of goals given up is 1, 6 times). Still a 2-1 result would be a great boost for RSL as they hit the middle of their 5 match road trip which has gone far from fantastic so far this season.
Here are my keys to an RSL win:
- Shoot the ball – last weekend in Houston RSL didn’t get a single shot on goal and took just 7 shots the entire match. So while RSL had a couple decent opportunities, they simply failed to convert. Against the Rapids two weeks ago they at least were able to get 13 shots with 6 on goal. To win you must score, to score you must get shots on goal, to get shots on goal you must take shots. I have been confused why RSL again seems to be looking for the perfect shot as opposed to taking what they are given and trying to make it work. I would love to see more shots with the other forwards crashing the box looking for rebounds. Keepers make mistakes and too often this year we haven’t made them pay.
- Don’t get “Dom”inated – love him or hate him, you can’t deny that Dwyer is an elite scorer in MLS, 41 goals in 93 matches played, including 5 so far this year. His speed and tenacity make him a perfect forward in this league and he has made teams pay for taking him lightly. RSL knows how to keep him out of the limelight, he has just a single goal in 6 matches against RSL and it would be really nice if we could make that a single goal in 7 matches. Make someone else beat you, don’t let it be Dom.
- Keep your composure – RSL already has seen 3 red cards this season and SKC knows how to push buttons, their opponents have been shown 4 red cards in their first 13 matches. We know guys like Roger Espinoza, Soni Mustivar and Benny aren’t afraid to play physical or to bait guys into confrontations. We must be smart, we must not give in, we must finish with 11 men if we want to win.
RSL had a must win match last weekend, and they simply didn’t deliver now the pressure mounts as back to back loses force RSL into a position of needing a result in a place that historically hasn’t been kind to them (2-5-4 all time in KC). We know that RSL has tremendous weapons on offense with Plata, Yura and Burrito, but they have to deliver and in part RSL has to find ways to get them the ball in dangerous places, if one tactic isn’t working you have to change on the fly. If RSL can do that, if RSL can play within themselves, they should be able to come out of this with a 2-1 win.
That’s How I See It