Tuesday, April 7, 2009

RSL -vs- DC United: Breaking it Down

As we take a look at the upcoming match, I thought I'd break it down by position on the field. In order to do so, let's look at the projected starters:

Real Salt Lake:

GK: Rimando;
DEF: Beltran, Borchers, Olave, Wingert;
MID: Beckerman, Morales, Johnson, Mathis;
FWD: Movsisyan, Findley

DC United:

GK: Crayton;
DEF: Namoff, Jakovic, Burch;
MID: Fred, Simms, Gomez, Olsen, Wallace;
FWD: Pontius, Emilio

Position breakdown:

Goalkeeping: this is a no brainer. None of DC's keepers are even "average". So this year it really doesn't matter which one they trot out there, they will give up goals. Rimando won't be confused for keeper of the year, but he's fairly solid. ADVANTAGE: RSL

Defenders: I'm projecting the 3-man backline because they used it last week, and Soehn seems to like that formation. However, he was criticized for employing it last year after the 4-0 debacle they experienced at Rice Eccles. It also suits C. Gomez well, and emphasizes the possession style. Having said that, DC's defense may prove to be a liability. I'm not impressed with Jakovic to this point. RSL on the other hand has a strong backline. ADVANTAGE: RSL

Midfielders: Probably a strength for DC, but RSL's midfield is no slouch either. RSL's midfield features a tireless engine in Will Johnson and a creative playmaker in Javi Morales, with Beckerman and Mathis proving to be solid as well. DC is glad to have the services of Christian Gomez and Ben Olsen back. Fred and Simms are also good complimentary players. Quaranta and McTavish could also play into the mix after being injured. The numbers with a 5th midfielder probably puts them over the top. ADVANTAGE: DC UNITED

Forwards: Emilio was on fire in 2007. With 2 goals in 3 games, is this a sign that he's back? Pontius seems to be faring well as a rookie, but they'll miss the suspended Moreno. On the RSL side, Findley is coming off of a hat trick, and Movsisyan proved to be a goal scoring threat a season ago, but hasn't managed to find one yet this season. ADVANTAGE: RSL

Intangibles: Coaching, home field, style of play, momentum, depth. My leaning is slightly RSL's way when playing at home, but it's too close to call. ADVANTAGE: DRAW

So in my mind this match should go RSL's way. Of course, it doesn't always go as played. My bet: 2-1 RSL.

Clarification: a couple people have asked me about my picks on midfielders and forwards: the DC advantage for midfielders is because of the formation. The RSL advantage at forward is due to the absence of Moreno. I may have gone the opposite direction on both of these without those factors.