OK, I will be completely honest I haven't seen the Minnesota Stars play, I barely have time to catch all the MLS action so my knowledge of them isn't as good as it would be for a MLS team. I do know that they did win the NASL playoffs last year, but didn't take part in the US Open Cup.
They do have a couple guys whose names could be familiar to RSL fans, Justin Davis who was a RSL draft pick in 2010 but not signed by the team is a regular starter for the Stars. Fuad Ibrahim, who was drafted by FC Dallas in 2007 and eventually ended up with Toronto FC, where he played in 26 matches for them before being released at the end of the 2010 season. They also feature Daniel Wasson, who played a couple years with the Rapids before heading to Europe, there is also Amani Walker who was at the 2011 MLS Combine and drafted by the Chicago Fire but not signed to a contract. They also have a pair of players who were selected in the 2012 MLS draft but not signed by their teams Kevin Venegas was drafted by Chivas USA, and Miguel Ibarra was drafted by the Portland Timbers.
The Minnesota Stars are 4-0-4 in NASL action, and just 1 point out of first place, they have gotten 3 goals and 3 assists from Armani Walker, and Miquel Ibarra hwas 2 goals and 1 assist for the Stars. Much like RSL they don't depend on any one player or position to provide all their offense, in fact they have 10 players who have scored goals for them this year.
Real Salt Lake hasn't had much success in US Open Cup action, but to be honest the last couple years the road to even make it to the tournament hasn't been easy, busy MLS schedule, midweek matches, visits to the White House, and other distractions have kept RSL out to the tournament proper for years. However if you listen to what RSL head coach Jason Kreis said on Saturday night after the teams 3-2 win over FC Dallas, you can expect a very different level of effort on Tuesday night.
more after the jump:
Well I can ensure you that the RSL staff has done a better job of scouting the Stars than I have but the reality of what RSL will have to do in order to advance to the 4th round of the US Open Cup are rather simple.
Don't underestimate the Stars, while no NASL team was in the tournament last year, USL Pro side Richmond Kickers made it to the Semifinals of the tournament with victories over both the Columbus Crew and Sporting Kansas City. With all 16 MLS teams joining the tournament in the 3rd round, I have a feeling that we will see at least 4 MLS teams lose to their opponents from lower divisions. You can check out the full bracket here.
Real Salt Lake will need to stick to what they do, possession, short passes, high pressure on the ball, and take advantage of any and all mistakes their less experienced opponents might make. I would expect that RSL should be able to get close to 500 passes attempted and with a team the is likely to play a fairly defensive style we should be able to complete close to 80% of our passes, with the greatest pressure likely to come in the final third of the pitch.
Jason has said that he plans on putting out as close to a top lineup as he can, given call ups and injuries. I would expect a starting XI that might look like this:
I think this lineup gives us some speed and aggressiveness on both sides of the ball and will allow us to play a strong attacking style, without knowing what to really expect from Minnesota, going full out and trying to put the match away with a couple early goals could be a very important thing for RSL. The question will be how can our midfield which will be missing 3 key pieces (Javier Morales, Kyle Beckerman, and Will Johnson) adjust and will they be able to dominate on both sides of the ball as RSL usually is able to do?
I believe that RSL should come away with a 2-0 win in this match but should anyone drop their guard or underestimate this team we could find ourselves having to battle from behind and that is something that we shouldn't have to do against a lower division team.
OFF MY SOAPBOX