Saturday, September 26, 2009

RSL vs. FC Dallas – Pregame thoughts

In what seems to be a very familiar theme, Real Salt Lake find themselves in a must win situation. As has been reported on this site and several others over the last month the MLS season is quickly drawing to a close and Real is at the bottom of a pile of 11 teams for 8 playoff spots. Toronto FC is the only other team in that list that is in as desperate a situation as the Salt Lake side. The big keys to this game for me are;


1) Can RSL slow down a potent FC Dallas attack? Dallas has been an offensive power house of late scoring 10 goals in just 3 games in September. Ex-RSL star Jeff Cunningham has scored four of those goals and assisted on another three to lead his team in their offensive burst. With Salt Lake missing the services of Jamison Olave they will need a better showing from Nat Borchers than the one they got a week ago.


2) Stop Dave van den Berg. Real have found themselves beaten by van den Berg on Multiple occasions but the one that hurts the worst came in the Western Conference finals last year. Playing at home against 8th seed New York Red Bulls, RSL were unable to score a goal, bouncing shot after shot of the post. New York looked very out classed in the game but van den Berg did not. He hit the game winner in the 28th minute, first setting up the play with a pass to John Wolyniec and then finishing it when he received the ball back in front of the goal. Real Salt Lake will need to make sure a repeat performance doesn't happen.


3) Will RSL start the game with the same urgency they  displayed after going down to 10 men last week? Real started the game last week against the Houston Dynamo with out any of the focus they needed to win a game on the road. That has been a common theme for Salt Lake away from home during their 5 year history. If they miss out on the playoff’s this year their road record will be a big reason why. They will need to stay focused if they want to have any chance in Dallas.


4) Can Yura and Campos keep up the form they have displayed lately? One of the big reasons RSL made the playoff’s last season was Yura rounding into form in August and September. This year RSL seems to be pinning its hopes that Yura can do it again and since his return from injury its looking like he might be capable of just that. If Yura has looked good over the last few games then Campos has been amazing. He has scored or assisted on five goals in the last four games including a back pass to Andy Williams to set up the Kyle Beckerman goal last week.  RSL will need more of that if they want to win away for Rio Tinto.