Friday, July 24, 2009

Gameday: RSL -vs- Dallas

Tonight is an interesting matchup at Rio Tinto.

You have the storylines of the RSL connections currently in Dallas: John Ellinger, Danny Torres, Atiba Harris, Jeff Cunningham, and Kyle Davies. You have the fact that Dallas was home to three of the RSL technical staff: Cassar, Lagerwey and Kreis.

You have an RSL-side that is beginning to get its pieces into place for the stretch run with Johnson and Alexandre back from Gold Cup action, Andy Williams returning and Campos now in the mix.

You have desperation from both teams for a win. FC Dallas sits at 17 points, and RSL is just 3 points ahead at 20. Both teams have played better as of late after poor starts - Dallas losing only twice in the last six, and RSL losing only once in that same span.

From an RSL perspective it seems that each home game must have a "must win" feel to it for the rest of the season if the playoffs are to be reached. They have four of their next six at home. Wins in all or even most of those matches would go a long way to closing ground on a playoff position. The Dallas game is especially important because the other three upcoming home games are against teams in the West that are currently among the tops in the league in points: Chivas, Seattle, and Houston.

The lineup for this one should be interesting. Four spots seem to be somewhat open: Right back (Wingert/Russell), Right wing (Mathis/Movsisyan), Center Forward (Campos/Movsisyan/Findley), and the second holding spot (Grabavoy/Mathis/Russell). There is also a slight possibility that Cox could challenge Espindola for the right wing role, but I think that's less likely. I have no clue where Kreis will go with this one, but here are my thoughts on the Starting XI:

Definite Starters: Rimando, Borchers, Olave, Beltran, Morales, Johnson.
Probable Starters: Mathis, Movsisyan, Espindola
Possible Starters: Grabavoy, Campos, Findley, Russell, Wingert, Cox

If the "definites" and the "probables" indeed do make the lineup then it means one of two things: either Yura starts up top with Mathis on the right wing, or Yura's on the right wing, and Mathis moves back into a holding role alongside Johnson. The first scenario also means Grabavoy is likely in a holding role, and the second scenario means that either Findley or Campos grab the center forward role.

The reason that Cox has a chance to start is that Jason likes to reward guys when they are playing well, and Cox was the one bright spot last week, and it's possible that Kreis sits Espindola in a punitive measure for the red card two weeks ago similar to what he did with Olave after his red card. Unlike Olave, however, this is Espindola's first red card.