Chivas USA, with nothing to gain, presents interesting challenge for RSL

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight's match, for all its rather innocent exterior, is laden with risk. Chivas USA are a side with nothing to lose (and nothing to really gain excepting pride, but there are few stronger motivating factors), which puts us in the rather precarious position of having to win against a side that doesn't really mind losing. You'd think that was simple, but my overactive brain tells me it's not.

As such, it can't be very likely that we'll just throw some kids to the wolves and hope for the best. (I mean that in the least literal sense, of course.) Though Javier Morales may not be 100 percent as yet, it might be a chance for him to approach some continuity ahead of the playoffs - but if there's any real risk to his ongoing health and fitness, he'll be left out. Sebastian Velasquez could find himself involved, supposing he's fully recovered from his potential concussion sustained last week. Luis Gil will almost certainly play again.

Gil is an interesting case. He does well at the side of the diamond and is certainly capable at the top of it. But at times, he does seem to lack that undefinable "magical" quality that makes players suitable for the position. Perhaps the explanation is simple: Gil has yet to figure out how to break through crowded midfields. Javier Morales prefers to take up wide positions in the attack during those circumstances; against Portland, Gil remained rather central and was committed to tracking back. It's an important thing, surely, but it does rather gut our attack on the counter.

Tony Beltran might make it back into the lineup, but by the same token, it's hard to see Lovel Palmer as having done enough to be dropped. Perhaps Palmer can switch back to the left, with Wingert left out, but it's also hard to see that. I don't envy Jason Kreis's position much.

Risk. We're all about it - or, well, something like that. Kreis isn't going to destabilize the squad with his decisions (unless he truly loses his mind) but he does have to worry a bit about continuity, I suspect. It's something we've lacked most of the season, and we've performed admirably without it, but there's no better time to find it. Unless, of course, continuity is a ruse - but the burden of proof for that one is great.

Tonight's squad, with continuity on the mind, could be exactly the same, or it could see one or two changes.

Regardless, Chivas USA doesn't present a tough tactical challenge. But awareness, attentiveness, and avoiding the underestimation of the opponent should be at the top of Real Salt Lake's list.

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