It may be rivalry week, but that doesn't mean we can't have some camaraderie with an RSL fan or two! Ahead of the derby match with Real Salt Lake this weekend, Matt from our fantastic Salt Lake blog RSL Soapbox and I exchanged a couple of questions.
You can see Matt's answers to my questions below, head over to RSL Soapbox to see my answers to his questions.
RS: Of the players we lost, only Fabian Espindola was a genuine attacking threat, and even then, it came in waves. We certainly lost something when he left — don't get me wrong — but more important was a refactoring of the midfield to provide more attack. Robbie Findley will be a good player for us again, even if he's struggled a little early on, and he should roughly replace Espindola in the side (though not at all in tactics.) Getting the midfield more involved in attack is the vital piece: Luis Gil, Sebastian Velasquez, Khari Stephenson and Ned Grabavoy could be crucial in providing a bit more attacking thrust in the lineup. The hope is that they'll provide more attacking threat — how that plays out will likely make or break the season, unless Alvaro Saborio manages to score two goals a game on average.
BW: What are RSL fans expecting out of this season after contending for trophies with essentially the same roster for three years, now that the roster has been broken down a bit?
RS: It obviously depends on the group of fans you ask, as expectations seem to vary wildly. These younger midfielders are subjected to a lot of hype and expectation, and perhaps it's unrealistic to expect that they'll tear things apart this season. Of course, that hype is largely around because the players have a great deal of potential, so there's a chance high expectations could be well-placed. Others, of course, are all doom-and-gloom-ridden, although some of that faded after that first match against San Jose. I rest somewhere in the middle — playoffs are not an unreasonable expectation; the Supporters Shield is.
BW: Shamelessly copycatting you, what's your favorite Rocky Mountain Cup memory?
RS: It's hard to argue with the October 2010 stoppage time draw, isn't it? That was a fantastically exciting one, and it makes for an easy narrative, so let's go with that. But I'll also call out the 0-0 draw late in 2011 — we saw 89 minutes of Javier Morales battling for everything only five months after the ankle break that put a stopper on Real Salt Lake's season. It was hardly the most exciting match, but the emotional thrust of seeing Morales out there in the thick of things ranks up there.
Thanks again to RSL Soapbox for tossing out some Q&A!