Real Salt Lake is gearing up for a playoff run. With a good result in Los Angeles Sunday night, a run to the MLS Cup will become very possible. So how is Real Salt Lake preparing in this all-important week?
Here are a few notes from practice today:
Lovel Palmer is injured. He did technical work, but he wasn’t a full participant in practice. That is problematic because Palmer has looked really good at outside back and Tony Beltran has looked pretty bad there in recent matches. That led to a 97 minute benching of Beltran that ended with Palmer’s hamstring injury against Chivas USA.
Joao Plata is injured too. He also did technical work, but he’s dealing with a hamstring issue too. That is problematic because he would start or come off the bench in both legs if healthy. The injury may not rule him out for either match, but it may limit his availability in one or both.
RSL thinks it’s an underdog. Javier Morales said the media is predicting an LA win. I predicted an RSL victory on Sunday night, and I’ve yet to hear any other firm predictions yet, so I’m not sure who he is referring to. Jason said it on ESPN 700 later Tuesday, which probably explains Morales’ opinion. Real Salt Lake plays better as underdogs, so that’s probably a good strategy.
RSL is healthier than in playoffs past. The two aforementioned injuries are unpleasant, but they aren’t devastating like the injuries in years past. Tony Beltran and Robbie Findley/Olmes Garcia are very capable replacements that have usually earned the started over the injured players I mentioned. In contrast, Salt Lake suffered from major centerback injuries in 2011. The two aforementioned injuries are problematic, but this isn’t like losing both Nat Borchers and Jamison Olave.
Especially compared with LA matches. In both of its playoff matchups with LA, Real Salt Lake suffered from major injuries: Morales (early in MLS Cup 2009) and Borchers/Olave (2011 Western Conference Final). This time, Salt Lake is the healthier squad as Robbie Keane, Landon Donovan, and Omar Gonzalez are all carrying knocks.