When Real Salt Lake takes the pitch Saturday against Chivas USA, scoreboard watchers will be tempted to say Salt Lake is sure to win.
After all, Chivas has lost two home matches, while Salt Lake has beaten the two biggest name franchises in the league – one of them on the road.
Don’t sit too easy. Saturday’s match is likely to be a close for four reasons:
- The Coaching Connection: Chivas USA’s head coach, Robin Fraser, is a former assistant to Jason Kreis. He knows how RSL likes to play and how to succeed against them. This was evident last season, which leads me to…
- Past Experience: Last season, despite finishing 8th out of 9 teams in the Western Conference, Chivas gave RSL two very close matches. In the Sandy edition, Javier Morales was severely injured. Salt Lake barely won, despite being up two men for most of the match. This is due to…
- Chivas’ Strong Defense: While Chivas struggles on offense, the side has played great defense. Both losses this season were 1-0, and goalkeeper Dan Kennedy has had standout performances in both matches. Compounding the issue is that Chivas will likely put 10-11 men behind the ball and play for the draw from the start. This leads me to…
- Conflicting Styles: Most people don’t realize that Real Salt Lake was much better against Western Conference teams last season (9-5-3) than those from the Eastern Conference (6-6-5). This is a stylistic difference, with teams from the East playing very physically and throwing off Salt Lake’s passing and rhythm. Chivas USA, despite playing in the West, plays with an Eastern Conference style. Watch for them to pack in the defense and repeatedly foul Salt Lake’s play makers. Fortunately, there is a way to fix this.
Real Salt Lake needs to get on the board early. Doing so will force Chivas to open up and attack. The result will be much better soccer on both sides and the possibility for attractive play and numerous goals.
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- 3 Reasons Saturday’s Win Was Big | Real Nation | June 17, 2012