RSL faces Crew with strike pair question prominent, strong midfield

Jamie Sabau

Real Salt Lake faces Columbus Crew tonight a bit battered but certainly not beaten, but coming directly off a 3-3 draw against Portland Timbers won't make the task ahead of them much easier.

Key to their best-laid plans will be stopping Crew playmaker Federico Higuainas we discussed yesterday, who has both scored more goals than anyone, aside from Dominic Oduro, who has also scored nine, for their side and completed more assists.

RSL will continue to be faced with their own decisions, but one that has been rendered obsolete is the matter of Saborio's partner: The big man will be out, according to Jason Kreis and reported by Salt Lake Tribune reporter Aaron Falk. Kreis may again opt for the Joao Plata-Robbie Findley combination, which, to be honest, didn't look half bad on Saturday. Key to that is Findley's improvement with his head and, yes, his improvement with his first touch.

The midfield could take on a familiar shape, with Kyle Beckerman back in consideration, but don't be surprised if somebody is given a chance to rest: In a home match against, let's face it, less difficult opposition (which isn't to say it will be easy), rotation for someone like Ned Grabavoy could be key. Someone like Cole Grossman could well be playing himself into contention, but with Yordany Alvarez out — again — he might find himself as a defensive backup on the bench.

Encouragingly, Nick Rimando looks set to return as well, but a hand should be given to one Jeff Attinella, who displayed great shot-stopping ability and did very well to claim crosses.

It will be difficult to look beyond Real Salt Lake for this one, but systemic bias may have blinded me long ago. But should we remain defensively strong — or, rather than remain, start being — we stand not just a chance, but we will have it in our grasps.

But do remember: They'll be good on set pieces. And if we've struggled on something recently, well — it's set pieces.

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