So this is it. Real Salt Lake will host DC United Tuesday night as the favorite to win its first-ever US Open Cup.
Why it Matters
On the line is the first trophy for the club in nearly five years, a bid in the 2013-2014 edition of the CONCACAF Champions League, some money for the club and players, a big incentive for Jason Kreis to stay this off-season (CCL), and a chance for redemption for a group that has achieved everything but the numerous trophies its record would suggest.
To put it nicely, this is a group that has come close to the brink almost every season, yet failed to win trophies over and over again. Were it not for that MLS Cup run in 2009, we might be calling them the MLS equivalent of the pre-2004 Boston Red Sox.
But now they are a heavy favorite. Tuesday night is a great opportunity at home to beat the worst team in the league for a title. Can they do it?
Here is the lineup I expect to see: (left to right)
- Goalkeeper: Nick Rimando
- Defenders: Chris Wingert, Nat Borchers, Chris Schuler, Tony Beltran
- Midfielders: Khari Stephenson, Kyle Beckerman, Javier Morales, Ned Grabavoy
- Forwards: Alvaro Saborio, Joao Plata
Subs: Jeff Attinella, Carlos Salcedo, Lovel Palmer, Luis Gil, Robbie Findley, Olmes Garcia, Devon Sandoval
There is some possible variation here, especially with the bench personnel. I wouldn’t be shocked if Robbie Findley, Luis Gil, and Carlos Salcedo started. Also, Yordany Alvarez or Cole Grossman might make the bench. Time will tell. Kreis has often kept no centerback on the bench, but I doubt he’ll do that if Schuler starts.
RSL is a heavy favorite in this match for a reason and I expect they will perform. The problems they’ve had since 2009 have almost all surrounded struggling to score when opponents bunkered in. But RSL 2.0 has already scored more goals than any RSL squad in the club’s short history.
The real question revolves around the performance of the back line, particularly whoever suits up alongside Wingert, Beltran, and Borchers. My guess is its Schuler, but Salcedo may get the call. Either one will have to step up and play at his best to avoid giving up a silly goal.
RSL wins this one going away. There might be an early hiccup, but I don’t think they’ll be denied this time. Their opponent is too bad, their hunger is too great, and their offense is too potent.