Real Salt Lake, for the second time in history, is in the MLS Cup Final. Facing one of the strongest sides in MLS, Sporting Kansas City, won't be an easy task.
One big decision looms over RSL coach Jason Kreis at this moment: Who starts in the attack? Half of the pairing is relatively obvious. Robbie Findley has done more than enough to win a spot in the final, and history certainly plays on his side with this one.
But with Devon Sandoval taking to injury and missing Sunday's training session, and with Alvaro Saborio still recovering from injury himself, the question of partnering Findley becomes a difficult one.
Most other choices are fairly obvious - you don't drop veterans, generally, but a broken rib for Chris Wingert -- sustained during a ludicrous tackle against Portland Timbers -- renders him a late decision. All indications seem to be that he'll start, and given he's been training all week (I believe), he should start.
Tactically, this one gets interesting because our native style fits pretty neatly against Sporting KC. They'll keep up their high-pressing game, no doubt; in response, our quick passing could be the difference.
When we last played these folks, it was an odd occasion: We let them get under our skin like we so rarely do, and we didn't have a chance from there. Even if their late winner -- Ike Opara's header in the 7th minute of stoppage time -- came controversially, it wasn't like the outcome was a surprise. We were less a few players, and they were less a few players, and really, neither side looked like their typical selves. SKC wasn't playing much in the way of their high pressure game, excepting when we came close, and we weren't really zipping the ball around at pace in any sense of the word.
This time, we're both full-strength or thereabouts. Sporting KC, given this one's at their place, will want to come out and make a good impression -- the crowd, as ever, will be raucous. But that doesn't change what we must do.
To get a result, we have to be proactive in our passing game, and we have to be prepared to recover at pace, with two fast strikers facing off against us. Should SKC decide to soak up pressure rather than push against it, we have to take our chances swiftly, as space and time will be limited.
Oddly, pundits seem to be very much in our favor. It's nice, really, because through the playoffs so far, they've been squarely against us in their predictions. Up 4-2 against Portland Timbers? Predictions are that the Timbers win. That's really the only odd one, honestly, but we're getting recognition. Frankly, it's a little weird. Thankfully, plenty think we're out of this one, what with home-field advantage and all, and maybe that plays into our favor. (Predictions, as ever, mean little.)