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Four Questions with Eighty Six Forever: Insight ahead of RSL's Vancouver visit

Four — count em, four! — questions with Eighty Six Forever blog manager Jon Szekeres ahead of Real Salt Lake's visit to the land of Canada to take on Vancouver Whitecaps.

Jessica Haydahl

Where are you in comparison to 2012 at this time? Have there been improvements? Are you better off than a year ago?

I would say yes, but cautiously. Expectations are certainly higher with the addition of players like Nigel Reo-Coker and Daigo Kobayashi, but this team does resemble the 2012 squad a little bit. They're still having some trouble putting the ball in the net, and they still have struggles on the road. That being said, there's a certain swagger surrounding this club, and I think they all believe they can become a more cohesive unit and peak at the right time.

Vancouver started with two wins but has fallen off a bit in the last three, but never by more than a single-goal margin. Is something missing, or is it simply a matter of patience?

I wish I could just blame it all on being on the road, but one point on a three match swing is unacceptable. I wouldn't say anything's missing, but there are definitely some players that are far too dormant right now. Darren Mattocks isn't producing the way he should, and Camilo can't get out of the doghouse and onto the pitch. They aren't playing horrible, they just appear to be a half step off. The passes are just missing the targets, the shots are just grazing the post. Here's a cliche for you: It's a game of inches.

How badly is Jay Demerit missed? What's Rennie done to shore up the defense?

Jay Demerit was this team's superman. He ate up a ton of minutes, is rock solid defensively, and knows how to get his boys pumped up. His leadership qualities can't be replaced, and neither can his brand of play. Brad Rusin started off well, but his play has dramatically dropped off. Against the 'Quakes, Chris Wondolowski had a field day, beating Rusin like a drum. It remains to be seen if he can shake it off and recover this weekend, or if Martin Rennie will go to his bench. There isn't a whole lot of depth behind Rusin, but the 'Caps do have the young Johnny Leveron waiting in the wings, he just needs more training.

It's easy to forget that Vancouver is part of the Cascadia Cup. Is there any bitterness from fans about that?

I don't think it's too bad; the Whitecaps are sort of the red headed step child in that group. If Vancouver wants more respect, they'll have to win more matches against Seattle and Portland. I mean, they couldn't even win the Amway Canadian Championship, and the final there was against the at the time winless Toronto FC. They still have to earn the respect.