I attended the RSL Watch Party at Rio Tinto last Saturday and I must admit that RSL puts out quite a spread and the atmosphere was fantastic. Especially after Fabian scored in the five minute mark of the game. If you ever get the opportunity to attend an official watch party...please do. You won't regret it.
Now on to last week's game and the upcoming match on Saturday evening. I really loved how Coach Kreis got the men to attack on Saturday evening and it worked when Espindola scored very early in the game. A few key mistakes and "let-downs" throughout the match gave FCD an opportunity to tie the match then take the lead.
My hat is off to FCD, they seemed like they wanted it more in the 2nd half. RSL on the other hand looked very sluggish . Maybe all those games over the last third of the season has caught up with them. Cunningham's goal in the final minutes of the first half really helped boost the morale of FCD's side going in at halftime.
more after the jump:
The second half couldn't have been anymore difficult to watch then any game this year. Yellow Cards were being thrown around like candy at a Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Morales received his 2nd Yellow Card of the game which drew a red card and 2009 MLS Cup Champion's RSL were playing a man-down. This was just not a devastating blow for the remainder of tha game, but it keeps Javi off of the pitch for this weekend's game at Rio Tinto.
After further review (in slo-mo) of Javi's redcard for a kick to the FCD's players face...Javi's boot didn't come close to the player's face. In fact, the boot came up no further than the upper chest and the FCD player ran into Javi's boot. But, Javi still knew better to place himself in such a position to get booked again.
Losing Javi for this Saturday's matchup is really gonna sting. Javi has been one of the best possession players, if not the best, on RSL this year. We (RSL) will have to make it up with couple other players stepping up into that role.
The bright spot (if there is one, being down 1-goal) is that FCD lost one of their best possession midfielders, Atiba Harris, last Saturday night too. He was shown a straight red card for elbowing RSL’s Will Johnson while the two battled for a header midway through the second half.
Some of the possible issues from both sides are that RSL's Will Johnson still is recovering from that hamstring injury; Alavaro Saborio is banged up and I saw Paulo Jr. at the Watch Party. He Didn't fly with the team to Frisco because he was still nursinng a groin injury.
I have read where FC Dallas has Colombian striker Milton Rodríguez mostly likely out for the game this weekend with a strained groin. Heath Pearce is still recovering and won't play and all of you read the above concerning Harris.
Now on to the game this weekend, I know we have our backs against the wall and everyone concerned being down 1-goal in the aggregate. But all these people forget that we are Real Salt Lake and on top of that, we are playing at home at Fortress Rio. Have people forgotten about our 32-match unbeaten home streak and our wild fans at the home games? I know it will be tough, but we have played in a lot of tight games and difficult games in the past 20 months. I really do think that we will come out on top in the match.
Why do you say, you ask? Well, we have the moxy, the perseverance, THE best coach in MLS, THE best goalie and backline in MLS and THE best home-field advantage in all of major sports history on our side.
If there is any one game that all of Salt Lake Valley and the U.S. need to watch this weekend...it needs to be the game on Saturday night in Rio Tinto Stadium.
See you there!