Rocky Mountain Cup Week!!!!
It may not be as exciting as some other rivalries that MLS tries to push on us, but the Colorado Rapids v Real Salt Lake match is always an exciting and feisty match and this year should be no different.
I shared some questions with our friends at RSL Soapbox about this match and here is what we spoke about:
Burgundy Wave: When you think Real Salt Lake one of the first things that comes to mind is the diamond formation. This year there has seemed to be a move away from it. What is the ideal formation for the Claret and Cobalt?
RSL Soapbox: My sense early on is that the focus is shifting slightly to more of top-heavy approach and a bit less of a possession-oriented approach. The reason for the formation change is to get Joao Plata, Sebastian Jaime, and Alvaro Saborio on the field at the same time. Sadly, that has not really happened yet due to injury. That is not to say that RSL will not try to possess the ball and make good passing decisions to wear teams out, but if the first quarter of games this season have been any indication, the possession battle seems to matter a little less than in years past. That said, the formation change is due to personnel strengths and Cassar has said the diamond is still a weapon up their sleeve that they will take out every so often. One thing is clear so far. RSL has done better with four midfielders so far this season. We might not know the ideal formation for another couple of months.
BW: Over the last six seasons, RSL has truly been one of the better clubs in MLS, but this year there seem to be a few struggles getting out of the gate. What do you feel is the main cause for this?
RSL SB: For me, the main cause has to be injuries. Joao Plata was injured the first practice session of the season. Not the way you want to kick off a season. Sebastian Jaime was injured shortly thereafter. Then Javier Morales went down twice for different injuries.Chris Schuler followed suit. It seems like one key player after another has been out for something week to week. The other reason for the slow start to the season has to be that RSL keeps shooting themselves in the foot by through red cards, giving up silly goals after unnecessary mistakes, and own goals. There is not real explanation for that except that we have a few very young players that are learning through experience and a couple of veterans that have hot tempers.
BW: RSL is going to be busy in three competitions this year with MLS Cup, US Open Cup and CONCACAF Champions League. What is a realistic expectation for success over those three difficult, but different, competitions?
RSL SB: Success is hard to define at this point since we haven't seen the best of this team yet. If RSL can get in form and figure themselves out, they have the talent to do what they have done in past years which is to make deep runs in every tournament and possibly win them. If I were to judge this season right now based on their mediocre form, I would say getting out of our group in CONCACAF Champions League would be a success.
Predicted Lineup: Jeff Attinella, Tony Beltran, Elias Vasquez, Jamison Olave, Kenny Mansally, John Stertzer, Luis Gil, Luke Mulholland, Javier Morales, Alvaro Saborio, Joao Plata
Predicted Result (and score): I think RSL will turn the corner this month and start things off with a 2-1 win at home.
You can see my answers over at RSL Soapbox.