Nat Borchers' red card on Friday — a just decision by the referee and a debatable one (in the truest sense) by the player — leaves Real Salt Lake in a tricky situation for the Colorado match tomorrow.
We could debate the decision all day if we wanted to. Would Nick Rimando have reached the ball in time to prevent a goal? Is it preferable to play down a man and level on goals than to play level on players and down on goals? Could Borchers have played Martins more effectively? They're interesting questions, but we don't really have an answer. It's not black-and-white. As such, let's move on from the talking points and focus on what it means for us this week.
We play Colorado Rapids tomorrow in a dead rubber for the Rocky Mountain Cup but anything but where MLS is concerned. With a win — and only with a win, really — the Rapids will be right back in the mix and pushing for a playoff spot. Without a win, their claim might well be over. With that in mind, we'll have been looking at our center backs all week in an effort to find the player most capable of pairing with Chris Schuler.
There are only two players who would seem likely to take that spot next to Schuler: Carlos Salcedo and Aaron Maund. Why might one be picked over another? We've got some ideas.
Carlos Salcedo is a good continuity choice. He's been on the bench or in the lineup since July 24, barring a match or two during which he was away on international duty. He's started a match and played 61 minutes off the bench. He's come into those matches and looked effective. He's not the most natural fit with Schuler, as he's probably better alongside Borchers than he is with Schuler, but it's difficult to say if that's significantly the case. At any rate, you typically would play the player who's been on the bench, not the one who's not been there, but maybe I'm wide of the mark.
Aaron Maund might be a better fit with Chris Schuler. He could allow Schuler to step into a more natural position as the further-back defender, but maybe Schuler would be better served retaining the style that's seen him earning plaudits from all over. Maund is a good physical defender, but he has a tendency to get caught in bad positions, and that red card against Colorado came in part because of that.
Justen Glad is a very, very outside pick, but he's more than capable of playing centrally. In fact, that's probably his best spot right now — but we'll see how he develops as a player moving forward. He's been excellent in every reserves game I've seen him play in and would certainly have earned an opportunity. Perhaps this is a chance for him to make the bench.
"I think it's maybe less about Justen than when we are in the season ... I think Justen's actually been pretty good."