So a new idea on previewing a match (a great idea by Robert Jonas of Quake, Rattle and Goal) to look at why each team will win or lose the match and why this is a must watch match. So lets get going:
RSL will win because they simply dominate, the first time these two teams faced off RSL went down a man early on a bad tackle by Fabian Espindola in the 29th minute, it took until 1st half stoppage time before San Jose could take advantage of that and in the 47th minute Khari Stephenson scored a goal to give the team a 1-0 lead. In the 2nd half RSL was able to overcome their disadvantage and Kyle Beckerman was able to equal the match in the 53rd minute. Despite being a man down RSL was able to withstand the Quakes until a bad call in the 69th minute resulted in Jamison Olave being sent off and giving San Jose a 2 man advantage for the final 20 plus minutes of the match. Again RSL stood up to the test, and it wasn't until stoppage time in the 92nd and then the 93rd minute that San Jose was able to secure the win with two late goals.
The second time the two teams faced off, just a couple of weeks ago it was a couple of RSL mistakes that the Quakes jumped on to secure a 2-1 win, but RSL dominated the majority of the match with 59.4% of the possession a 19 to 12 edge in shots, 8 to 6 edge in shots on goal, and a 475 to 325 advantage in passes, but the only thing that mattered was the final score. Those first two matches showed clearly that RSL not only can play with the Quakes, but can control a match against them even down a man, so now the task at hand is to not make mistakes and to deliver the type of dominating passing and possession that most often results in a positive result for Real Salt Lake? Then add in, Alvaro Saborio coming off a hat trick and MLS player of the week honors, RSL seem to have everything heading in the right direction. San Jose on the other hand are coming off a loss at Portland and a 0-0 draw against FC Dallas last weekend, it will be RSL helping the Quakes find their own 3 match winless streak.
after the jump, Why RSL will lose and why you shouldn't miss this match:
Real Salt Lake will lose because; San Jose is simply one of the most dominant offensive teams in MLS, their 36 goals in 19 matches equals out to 1.89 per match the best in the league. In fact in over half of their matches they have scored multiple goals (10 of 19), only twice have they been held without scoring a goal, and perhaps the most impressive thing is their +16 goal differential, no not over the entire match but rather that is their goal differential over the last 30 minutes of matches where they have scored 22 goals and allowed just 6.
One area that RSL might struggle with could be the size of San Jose, it is very likely that the Quakes will have 5 or 6 players in their starting XI who are 6' 0" or taller. This is a huge factor in their matches were 14 of their goals have come via headers and on defense they have given up just 4 goals via headers. This compares to 5 goals for and 7 allowed via headers for RSL.
Finally, Goonies, yeah I know it is kinda silly but when Steven Lenhart uttered the words "Goonies never say die" after a recent Quakes match he gave life to what is a reality for San Jose. This team simply never quits and never stop, we see how many the goals they score late in matches but you also should focus on the fact that while they have given up the first goal 10 times this year they have only lost 3 of those matches.
Those are a lot of things that Real Salt Lake will need to overcome on Saturday, a mighty big task.
Why this is a must see match, Well beyond the fact that these are the top two teams in the Western Conference, they are also the top two teams in Major League Soccer at this point of the season, there are even more reasons to find a way to watch this match. These teams battle hard every match, in the 15 matches they have played each side has 5 wins and there have been 5 draws. High scoring, 41 goals have been scored in those 15 matches, that is just shy of 3 goals per match, but it is even better when the matches are played at San Jose. 7 matches have been played in San Jose, only once has there been a draw as each team has 3 wins, and they have been high scoring as 23 total goals have been scored in those matches.
Some great players, for the Quakes, you have Chris Wondolowski who again is leading MLS in goals scored with 14, you have the late match miracle man in Alan Gordon, on the RSL side you have Alvaro Saborio who jumped into the golden boot competition with his hat trick last weekend and with 10 goals in now just 4 behind Wondolowski. RSL also has Javier Morales who has 5 goals and 5 assists against the Quakes in 10 matches and Kyle Beckerman who has 3 goals and 5 assists against them in 21 career matches.
Finally, there will be controversy. It is like a finely mixed drink, one part Steven Lenhart, one part Jamison Olave, a twist of Fabian Espindola, and a shot of an inexperienced ref (this will be Allen Chapman's 6th MLS match). There have been 9 yellow cards and 2 red cards in the two matches these teams have played already this year. You can almost count on something crazy happening on Saturday. All those things make this a match that every MLS fan should want to watch, darn shame neither of the national TV partners picked this one up.
OFF MY SOAPBOX