For Real Salt Lake a light MLS schedule before the FIFA break is a good thing, as the team will be dealing with a number of missing players. First we know that Kyle Beckerman and Nick Rimando were in the first 16 players called into the US Men's National Team camp, and while I doubt that any other RSL players will be called in before the 5 matches that are coming up, I don't expect that either will be coming back. I think Nick Rimando has proved himself and will get a fair shot at claiming the number two spot keeper spot, and if he is given a shot, I think he claims the spot.
That is only the start, I expect on Thursday when Canada announces their call ups that we will lose Will Johnson, and whenever Costa Rica announces their list, I expect that Alvaro Saborio will be on the list as well. That means that it is very likely that for the May 26th match against FC Dallas that RSL could be without those 4 players, now had RSL no had experience dealing with injuries and suspensions already this year, I would be worried but I am not.
There are no MLS matches scheduled for RSL after that match until June 16th. The USMNT has 5 matches scheduled between May 26th and June 12th, the Canadian National team has two matches between June 3rd and June 12th. Costa Rica will have 4 matches between May 26th and June 12th. So as you can see it will be a busy couple weeks for the guys who get national team call ups, so beyond that one MLS match, how could these call ups impact RSL?
The answer after the jump:
So in the midst of the FIFA break, US Soccer has scheduled a couple rounds of the US Open Cup. I am not sure why but I am sure there is a logical reason somewhere, one thing is clear the advantage could go to the lower division teams who are unlikely to be impacted by national team call ups. For RSL. there will be a May 29th US Open Cup match, which could either be at home or away depending on how next weeks matches go (you can get a full update here) that would be impacted by call ups, and should RSL win that 3rd round matchup, they would be playing again on June 5th in the 4th round of the tournament (I think the drawing for matchups and hosting will be held next week after the matches on the 22nd).
So what does all this mean for RSL? Well it means that we will have to see mixed lineups for the Open Cup matches, but with no league matches those two weeks we are likely going to see RSL field a lineup of the top guys from the training sessions prior to those matches. There are some interesting scenarios based on injuries that could see us getting a lot more of Jonny Steele, Kyle Reynish, and Sebastian Velasquez. I also think you could see more of guys we haven't seen much of, since RSL hasn't had a lot of luck in the reserve matches and we don't have another one of those until June 12th, oh wait that is right in the middle of the national team call ups and the FIFA break. That June 12th reserve league match will be at AmericanFirst Field when we play host to the Chicago Fire.
Could we see the 2012 RSL debut of Cody Arnoux? How about some more of defenders Chris Estridge and Terukazu Tanaka, maybe we also will get a chance to see some more of Enzo Martinez and Nico Muniz? One thing is clear with four of the big names away for several weeks there will be a chance for some other guys to really step up in practice and to get themselves some playing time.
I do think that Jason understands how important the US Open Cup is as it offers perhaps the most direct path to qualifying for CONCACAF Champions League, something that has become both a priority and a bit of an obsession of the RSL staff, and some of us fans as well. Still when you are facing teams either a level or more below you, it is a great chance to get younger players time in matches that really matter. That is something that is important as younger players develop.
So what about those guys with national team call ups, we know that Jurgen like that Kyle Beckerman is capable and willing to do whatever he has asked him in the midfield, something that is no surprise to those of us who watch him on a regular basis. I fully expect that Kyle will be a part of the USMNT's efforts heading towards that 2014 World Cup, which means that anytime there is US call ups we can expect to lose Kyle for a couple weeks. What about Nick Rimando? Listen I think Nick brings an element of leadership that combined with his knowledge of the game and his physically abilities makes him a perfect backup to the clear number 1, Timmy Howard, and I expect that we will see Nick claim that #2 spot as his own through this camp and first set of matches. The upside is that MLS has gone out of their way to ensure as few MLS matches were scheduled during the FIFA dates as possible.
The same goes for Will Johnson who has become a fixture in the Canadian National team over the last couple of years, Canada has only qualified for one World Cup in recent history, 1986, and their attempt to quality for Brazil won't be easy as they are in a tough Group C that includes Panama, Honduras, and Cuba. Only the top two teams in the group will advance to the next stage of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying. As a note the US group, Group A includes Guatemala, Jamacia, and Antigua & Barbuda.
It is very likely that Alvaro Saborio will be part of Costa Rica's World Cup qualifying as they are in a tough Group B, which includes Mexico, El Salvador, and Guyana. Sabo has scored 23 goals in his 55 national team appearances, no other player on their recent call up lists has broken double digits in international competitions.
Wow, we covered a lot of things in this post, but the thing to remember is that some of the injuries and suspensions that could have been considered a negative early this year for RSL, in fact now provide us with a positive as a number of players have shown early in the season that they can contribute for RSL at the highest levels. So while you might look at the RSL schedule and think you will be without much to do the next month, remember you have a number of events:
5-19 Scrimmage at BYU
5-26 FC Dallas at Rio Tinto
5-29 US Open Cup - TBD
6-5 Possible 4th Round US Open Cup match- TBD
6-12 RSL Reserves vs Chicago Fire at AmericaFirst Field
6-16 Real Salt Lake at Chivas USA
So plenty of chances to catch the boys in action.
OFF MY SOAPBOX