Tuesday, August 25, 2009

RSL vs. Chivas USA – Pregame thoughts

In the immortal words of the Doors, “The time to hesitate is through!” With only eight games remaining RSL must start to make its move if the team wants to enjoy the playoffs for the second time in as many years. In the teams five year history they have  made the playoffs once and narrowly missed it another time sandwiching those two semi respectable seasons in between some of the worst the MLS has seen. Now, still searching for some consistency, Real Salt Lake find themselves on the bottom of a six team race for what looks to be just three remaining playoff spots.

Chivas USA meanwhile has all but wrapped up a spot in the 2009 MLS Playoffs by amassing 33 points in just 20 games. With 10 games left to play an appearance in the post season this year appears to be theirs to lose, joining Houston, L.A., Columbus, and Chicago as the five teams who appear to be destined for a shot at the Cup.

Helping RSL’s chances will be the return of Forward Clint Mathis and Defender Jamison Olave from suspension. Both missed the teams last game due to yellow card accumulation. Mathis acquired two in the same half earning him a Red against Houston while Olave picked up his fifth yellow of the season. Olave in particular was sorely missed on Sunday against New England when his speed and physical nature would have been a solid anchor to RSL’s backline. Robbie Russell seemed to struggle in his place at times and as a result the Rev’s found the back of the net three times.

Helping improve Chivas’ odds will be the probable return of Keeper Zach Thornton between the pipes. Thornton has posted an impressive 0.83 goals against average so far this season and despite only playing 18 games to date he has managed to pull off 8 shutouts. Chivas has also added some depth to their lineup in the past few weeks adding Jesus Padilla and Maicon Santos to their squad. These moves paid off last Saturday as Chivas USA beat Toronto FC 2-0.

Given both teams form lately I wouldn’t be surprised to see Chivas walk into Rio Tinto on Wednesday and further destroy the hopes of the Salt Lake faithful with a win but Real’s record shows that you should never count them out at home. A win for RSL would do wonders to improve their post season chances while a tie or a loss at this point of the season will seemingly doom them to an early off season.