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It's Day 13 in Real Salt Lake's campaign for #TrophiesNotFriendlies- RSL @ TFC

The 5th match in 13 days has been complicated by a number of travel issues that now make the plan to rest some starters on Saturday against Colorado seem like a move of a staff with ESP.  It seems all the players and staff were delayed by bad weather in Atlanta on Sunday, and that caused Delta to offer their seats to Toronto to people on the standby list.  In the end it meant that the team was unable to fly together to Toronto, some got there late Sunday night and some just arriving today, there also is the issue of missing bags including several including the teams gear.  Let's hope there is a Dick's Sporting Goods in the area or somewhere missing equipment can be replaced.

So this journey began with Toronto at "El Castillo" and after this match RSL will get back to something like a normal schedule but first they must deal with TFC at BMO field, where history hasn't been nice to RSL.  They have never scored a goal at BMO field, they have earned 0-0 draws, which actually would be good enough to ensure their place in the quarterfinals, but you have to believe after all the drama that RSL would love to come out with the full 3 points and look to win group A, not just advance.

For Toronto FC, this is really all that is left of their season and with their best player showing signs of frustration (just google "DeRosario check celebration"), while both of their DP signings continue to un-impress and barring some major miracles, TFC will again miss the MLS playoffs.  So their best hope to make a splash and keep a fan base that has been booing more than normal on their side might be to fight tooth and nail to get into the quarterfinal stage themselves.

Team

Games
Played

Points

Win

Loss

Draw

GD

Real Salt Lake

4

9

3

1

0

+4

Cruz Azul

4

7

2

1

1

+6

Toronto FC

4

4

1

2

1

-3

 Arabe Unido

4

3

1

3

0

-7

For Toronto that will mean they will need two wins, tonight against RSL and then in their final match at home against Arabe Unido on October 19th.  That would give them 10 points, and would force RSL to get a result against Cruz Azul who they will face on October 19th as well.  Cruz Azul plays host to Arabe Unido tonight and we can expect that their goal differential should improve even more.

my match thoughts after the jump:

So what can you expect from Real Salt Lake tonight?  After choosing to rest a number of starters on Saturday, many who had played in 3 matches in 7 days, or were nursing minor injuries, you can expect to see every normal starter who is fit and not missing their shoes ready to go.  I am still unsure on the status of Javier Morales, who has missed a couple matches with a quad strain, and Fabian Espindola who appeared to pick up a minor hamstring strain in the final minutes of the Colorado match, but I expect that everyone else who hasn't played 3 matches in 7 days will be available.

So my prediction of a lineup would be:
Rimando
Russell-Olave-Borchers-Wingert
Beckerman, Johnson, Williams, Grabavoy
Findley, Saborio

and that shows the commitment of RSL to this tournament, it is clear that RSL not only want to make it out of the group stage but are looking to return a MLS team to the final of this tournament and hopefully be lifting another trophy come the end of April 2011.

Toronto's new head coach Nick Dasovic has a choice to make, does he use the rest of the schedule both CCL and MLS to evaluate his roster in matches, or does he decide that going for wins may be the only way to get himself the job for next season?  Toronto will need a win tonight if they are going to have any chance of making it out of the group stage and that could mean that the match will be played in a very open style, something that I think favors RSL.

Toronto's BMO field used to be a place like RSL's Rio Tinto that caused fear in the hearts of teams heading to play there but in recent weeks teams have shown that BMO isn't quite the home field advantage it has been in the past.  I expect a late crowd and probably a good number of empty seats given the teams recent performance, the stunts of players, and I don't believe this was part of their season ticket package.  I am going to go out on a limb here and while I think players should learn that goal celebration stunts are out of style, say that I agree with De Rosario on the fact that he is indeed underpaid.  He makes about 1/4 of what Julian de Guzman makes and that is criminal, as Dwayne has been the heart and soul of every MLS team he has played on, he has shown this year that he is capable of carrying this team on his back to wins and it would be a shame if he isn't resigned to a DP type deal, because he is one of a few who each match puts forth what most of us expect from a star players.

This could be a very entertaining match as both teams are looking for a win, RSL to seal their place at the top of Group A and move on to the quarterfinals next spring, and Toronto to keep their hopes alive.  Even with the travel issues, I look for RSL to be rested and coming off an emotional final few minutes on Saturday, they should be ready for action.  TFC will be looking again to prove a point, but so far under the guidance of their new coach it has been more of the same, mediocre performances.  I like TFC, they have some very talented players but they still are a team that most often plays as a team, so I am of course giving RSL the edge in this one.  2-1 for RSL as they finally score some goals at BMO field, and prepare to play there again in about 7 weeks.

OFF MY SOAPBOX 
(late news from Toronto, both Paulo Junior and Javier Morales are in pre match fitness test to see if they are able to be in the 18 man roster)