Real Salt Lake head to New England looking for something – Match Preview

This match will conclude the first third of the MLS season for RSL and to say that everyone has been left looking for something positive out of the first half would be a safe bet.  Perhaps the only highlight at this point has been the play of some of the young guys, Brooks Lennon, Bofo Saucedo, and Justin Schmidt have all delivered more than anyone could have expected before the season started.  If you include newcomer Albert Rusnak in with that trio then you actually have something to be fairly positive about.  Of course if that is true then you have to be honestly disappointed by the rest of the roster, where perhaps the only bright spot has been Chris Schuler.

If that all seems a bit harsh, well folks welcome to 2-6-2 with a negative nine goal differential in your first ten matches.  Welcome to a team that has probably played one half of actual MLS quality soccer so far this season, OK that might be too harsh but it is close to the truth.  So now with injuries still and issue, Lennon, Saucedo, Glad and Danny Acosta gone for the U20 World Cup, RSL has to find something, someone, anything to get moving back into a positive direction.  Could that be the arrival of Jefferson Savarino, the 20 year old forward was loaned to RSL earlier this week and could be tossed into action very quickly with a team that is desperate for bodies and positives?

The Revolution are a side that RSL has had success against in the past in fact we have a winning 4-3-2 record against them on the road and a 9-5-5 overall record against them in MLS action.  The Revs are 2-4-4 thru their first 10 matches but it has been over a month since they beat Houston 2-0, so their form is far from what they would have hoped for as well.

Keys to the Match:

Finish – according to MLS’s website RSL has missed 11 “big chances” so far this season the second most in MLS.  One of the somethings RSL must be looking for is goals, Yura is a DP forward, Plata was a DP forward until RSL used TAM funds to pay down his contract this week to sign Savarino as a young DP forward.  You pay big bucks to forwards to score goals and that hasn’t happened so far, now you can blame the lack of quality chances but 11 misses is larger than our -9 goal differential.  RSL’s injuries have hampered our defense but our forwards have probably been the most healthy position but now without Brooks and Bofo it is time for the big payday guys to step up and deliver.

See Above – Listen this is the only key right now, just 1 goal in the last 3 matches against 9 allowed, so I guess I could list not letting New England score but my reality is right now we have to start scoring goals.

Players to Watch:
Joao Plata – I am not sure what has been going on with Joao but since the middle of last season he has seemed distracted on the pitch. Then toss in the recent missed flight, showing up late for practice and the benching that resulted from that and one begins to wonder.  We have seen what happens when Joao is having fun playing, his smile and attitude are infectious to both teammates and fans, we need that back.  He has dealt with minor injuries this year which have limited him to under 400 minutes so far, but of his 14 shots only 3 have been on goal and we need better than that. This is a match where he could be the difference maker we are used to seeing.

Kei Kamara – For years he has been one of my favorite MLS players, and while this season he has seen limited minutes so far he is a player who can change a match in an instant. In the 14 times he has faced RSL he only has a single goal and single assist but has to remember he does have 88 goals in his 263 matches played in, with 34 assists to go along with them.  He is a strong forward with a deceptive bit of speed so he could pose a handful for the hodge-podge back line RSL will once again have to put out.

RSL Lineup:
This is a complete crap-shoot of a lineup pick given the ongoing injury issues and recent callups, just about anything could be possible.
Van Oekel
Wingert – Maund – Schmidt – Phillips
Sunny – Rusnak – Mulholland
Silva – Movsisyan – Plata

I do expect we see the debut of Jefferson Savarino at some point during this match but not sure we see him in the starting 11.

Prediction:

It hasn’t looked good lately, the win at Colorado was a bit fluky and you could say the same of the result in the snowstorm against Vancouver. The thing that I believe RSL must find during the next couple matches is bringing their actual performance level up.  Early on this season it was mental mistakes killing us, lately it has been just a matter of not performing at a level expected. Missed goals, sloppy passing, defensive miscues have been the norm and that has to change.  I will never question the heart and passion of our guys, I have seen them fight each match and the disappointment in their eyes match those of the fans.  I would be happy with any result in which we score a couple of goals, the simple reality is I expect if we score a couple goals we get a win as we won’t be left to chase the match late and give up soft goals in the final minutes.  I am going with a 2-2 draw on the road and to me that would feel a lot like a win.

That’s How I See It!

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