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Player to watch: Javier Morales offers creative, deep midfield play against LA Galaxy

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The playoffs are officially back tonight, and while we've been talking all week about the game, there should be a palpable sense of excitement around this first leg.

If we deign to pick a player who could be the most influential in the match — knowing full well that the number of influential players is a bit of a variable — we'll have some trouble. But let's have some trouble, yeah?

I'd pick Javier Morales as the player to watch. He should have time and space aplenty deeper in the midfield, which would leave him available to make a good long pass ahead of LA Galaxy's defense. Now, LA's not exactly known for playing a high line, so it won't be a hoof-and-run scenario we place ourselves in.

More, it would be that he's making these passes to the flanks or in front of the defense — forcing defenders to move around a bit and consequently opening space for RSL's midfield to move around. This is where RSL will find the most success, and it probably does something to help explain why the midfield has been scoring at such an impressive clip.

We've put further resources into getting the midfield further forward in possession, and it's given us fewer moments (but not none, clearly) where we simply can't score. Our overall goalscoring may have dipped slightly from last year (which was indeed a very good year for scoring goals), but that's not down to the midfield — that's more likely down to the long-term absence of Alvaro Saborio and the inefficacy of the other forwards not named Joao Plata.

We'll see how it shakes out, but Morales has an opportunity to not just influence this game, but to leave a very distinctive mark upon it.