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Defensive questions mire RSL preparation

With kickoff approaching, Jason Kreis will be forced to make a defensive decision: Who partners Nat Borchers?

Ezra Shaw

It's hard to imagine RSL coach Jason Kreis doesn't already have his mind set as to who starts in the center of defense for Real Salt Lake, but for those of us who aren't in constant contact with the man, we're certain to be wondering just who that will be.

Let's assume for a minute that Nat Borchers is a lock to start. Despite sitting out the final match of the regular season, Borchers is likely to start, as he was out largely as a precautionary measure. It's who partners him that's in question - and there are three distinct choices, and each of them bring something different to the game.

Jamison Olave is both a known element and an unknown element: His quality is undoubted, but his fitness is a big question mark this season. When he's not at his best, there's always a chance that he'll make things worse and be forced off the pitch through injury. After last year's first leg against Seattle, there's always a lingering thought that we'll want to avoid a recurrence of that.

Kwame Watson-Siriboe is likely to be the next option, and he is perhaps the most like Olave in style of our central defenders. Which, of course, isn't to say that he's anything like Jamison Olave, but that he's generally a bit more pushed-forward than Nat Borchers, who tends to sit back and work the angle. (Like a film director, only - well, not.)

Chris Schuler would be an outside contender, but only given his injury worries does he drop that low. After suffering a quad strain against Herediano, he's done well to come back into any contention at all, and he has reportedly traveled for the match. At best, I would think he'd be on the bench as an emergency option.

Chris Wingert represents a fourth option, but only in an act of relative desperation - one of Olave, Watson-Siriboe and Schuler is likely to be ready. Still, Chris Wingert has showed well there in the second half of the season, and we did see him against Seattle in the second leg of the playoff series with Seattle in 2011 (though I think he's improved massively from that match.)

With kickoff quickly approaching, Kreis has his work cut out for him.