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Three things to watch against the San Jose Earthquakes: Motivation? Playmaking? GOALS?

A shorthanded -and desperate to win- Real Salt Lake face off against the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday. Here's what we're watching for.

Jim Urquhart-USA TODAY Sports

Well it can't be as bad as last week, can it?

Wait.

Did I jinx it? I hope not.

Here's to us righting the ship tomorrow night.

What we watched last week

Can RSL get their motivation and concentration in the right place?

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha. Somebody hold me.

Did anybody rotated in show enough to earn a start?

The short answer is technically yes. Carlos Salcedo, who rotated in vs. Vancouver, DID start vs. Chivas. You could make a strong argument that he likely only did so due to Tony Beltran's injury, however. Carlos played well vs. Vancouver and certainly was one of our least awful performers v. Chivas when asked to shift from the outside back position to the center after Chris Schuler's fluke injury.

Can we get back into good defensive form before the playoffs start?

A terrible showing from Rich Balchan notwithstanding, the defense wasn't THAT bad vs. Chivas. Yes the goal allowed was an ugly, awful goal to allow but the midfield and forwards didn't do the defense any favors by constantly giving the ball away in bad positions and allowing Chivas to counter attack in numbers. Nat Borchers had a solid match and Carlos Salcedo put in another good showing that should make people optimistic about his future.

What to watch for this week

Can RSL get their motivation and concentration in the right place?

Yep. I did it. This is such a concern after last week's performance that I'm using it again. We were flat, lackluster and at times downright awful vs. Chivas. We held possession for 70% of the game and put one shot on goal. The motivation and concentration HAVE to be there this week. We've got to realize that it's not enough to dominate possession, pass it around the box and hope you work a goal into the mix somewhere. We need to see the same sort of attitude we saw vs. Colorado a few weeks ago. Yes we were helped by Joe Nasco's "performance" but that night the team smelled blood in the water and kept attacking. We need to see that again.

Who leads the midfield while Javi and Luis are absent?

Ed. note: Luis Gil won't be absent after all. He'll be available for selection after returning from international duty.

Although it certainly wasn't intentional, and he may appreciate the break, Javi Morales' yellow card suspension could hardly have come at a worse time. Luis Gil has been called up and the midfield was already dealing with injury concerns. So who do we see at the point of the diamond this week? The two options that stand out to me are Sebastian Velasquez and Luke Mulholland. Historically we've seen Sebastian play there and do well in the reserve league but the question is whether or not he can do the same with the first team? We haven't seen a lot of him this year due to personal problems off the field but in the past he had a tendency to be hesitant and defer to others. If he's going to lead the attack he needs to be the facilitator and have the confidence to make the important split second decisions regardless of the consequences.

The idea of Luke playing there might surprise some people but he's got experience at the position and always did well when playing there for Tampa Bay. He's certainly not a player who lacks for confidence and his proven ability to be dangerous in front of goal might make Jeff Cassar lean toward him with our top two forward options also away from the team this weekend.

Where do the goals come from with Joao & Sabo gone?

It might be an understatement to say that our backup forwards have been underwhelming this season. Alarmingly lackluster might be more accurate. Plata and Saborio have combined for twenty goals between them this season and our only other forward with more than one is Olmes Garcia, who's bagged three. That doesn't take into account the recent big name addition, Sebastian Jaime, but looking at it from a statistical point of view it's certainly been less than ideal. Jaime has brought something different to the team and looked dynamic at times but will he be able to do the same playing alongside a partner he's not used to? We'll have to hope so because I expect Jaime will start alongside Olmes Garcia this weekend. I think their playing styles compliment each other well and they could cause problems for a San Jose defense that's missing players through injury and international call ups. Here's hoping.

PREDICTION?

RSL get a much needed three points and beat a depleted San Jose team 3-1.

(Please.)