On Wednesday, Real Salt Lake downed MLS Cup runners-up New England Revolution 1-0 and will attempt to keep that momentum going into the regular season. To do so, however, RSL will have to defeat host FC Tucson in the Desert Diamond Cup.
For the second year in a row now, RSL faces the fourth division USL Premier Development League side who has hosted this spring tournament since 2011. With the match on the horizon, FC Tucson will face another giant after the 6-0 whopping suffered at the hand of the Seattle Sounders last Wednesday.
The last time these two sides met, RSL was able to beat FC Tucson 3-1. RSL appeared to be dominating their opponent getting a pair of goals from Alvaro Saborio and a tally from Aaron Maund in the first half, but FC Tucson was finally pulled a goal back in the second. RSL relied heavily on youth talent and new signings for that match and we should expect much of the same for this match.
Being the second competitive match in the 2015 preseason, head coach Jeff Cassar will likely field a team of fringe players and youth to evaluate their performance going into the MLS regular season. Similar to RSL's first Desert Diamond match, expect RSL to start a variety of young talent and new names while holding off the club regulars to late in the second half.
Among players to watch will be Elias Vasquez. This young center back looked impressive during the victory over New England. Able to cover ground quickly and clear the ball on countless occasions, expect Vasquez to continue a good run of form.
Another player to keep an eye on will be Jordan Allen. This talented homegrown youth has proven to be an asset in nearly every position. Despite recently playing as a winger in RSL's new 4-3-3 position, the versatile Allen could be used to provide depth in other positions. Given the injury of Joao Plata, Allen will likely fill the right winger position but do not be surprised if the coaching staff experiments with Allen on the backline or in the midfield.
Another more familiar face to watch is that of Olmes Garcia. After a horribly chippy match against New England, Garcia will look to impress. Likely attempting to work his way into the starting XI with the injury to aforementioned Plata, Garcia's aggressiveness got him into foul trouble frequently during his 30 minute appearance last match.
That being said, let's not knock physical play. It is something that has given RSL success in the past employing player like Kyle Beckerman and Jamison Olave. The young Garcia will just need to understand the intricacies of drawing a foul - when to foul and when not to foul. Do not be surprised if the coaching staff gives Garcia more minutes this match to get into the flow of the match a little more.
We'd like to know what you think. Do you think that there is anything we missed? Are there aspects of this match that we overlooked? What do you think this match means to Real Salt Lake? Share your opinions in the comments section below.