Oh both teams are playing down the match, as Group A is the only group where both teams that will advance to the knockout stage are known. Cruz Azul and Real Salt Lake each have 10 points and will advance, but the winners of the groups will be drawn against the second place teams. While I expect that due to the heavy schedules for both teams, and with some RSL injury concerns that you will see a mixed lineup where a number of guys will have a chance to make their case for inclusion on the 18 man roster once the playoffs begin.
There is only one other team that has secured a place in the knockout round, Monterrey will advance from Group C in first place, but wither Saprissa or Marathon will advance. Group B could see Santos, Columbus, or Municipal will advance, with Columbus having the easiest path as they will face Joe Public on Thursday. Group D could be the most entertaining as the USL Puerto Rico Islanders will need a result on Wednesday against Olimpia to have a real shot at advancing.
Here is how I see the groups ending up:
Group B Santos in first place, Columbus Crew in second place
Group C Monterrey in first place, Saprissa in second place
Group D Olimpia in first place, Toluca in second place (I would love to pick the Islanders to advance but I think their busy schedule with the D-2 playoffs may have their minds occupied, but don't be surprised if they pull off an upset over Olimpia)
So you have to believe that RSL would rather win on Tuesday and face one of the second place teams. With over 18,000 tickets sold for the match it should be a great crowd on hand and make for a great show on Fox Soccer Channel. So this match will give you both a peek at one of the top teams from Mexico, but also a number of RSL players looking to make an impact. Ever match that RSL plays now has a playoff feel to it, and while a few starters may be nursing injuries to get healthy for the run to MLS Cup, and given the incredible match these two teams played in Mexico City this one should have a lot of energy no matter who is on the pitch.
Hope to see you there.
OFF MY SOAPBOX