Real Salt Lake will be aiming for a semifinal berth tonight against LA Galaxy in the US Open Cup, and to do so, they'll have to fight against recent results and a visible drop in confidence.
The quarterfinal match won't be an easy one for the Salt Lake side, who lost 3-1 on Saturday to Colorado Rapids in a true collapse of a match.
That leaves RSL in a bit of a lurch, and when that's combined with more than a few absences, it becomes increasingly difficult to see the team getting out of this one unscathed without a tremendous improvement.
That improvement, obviously, is possible — but it's locked in the potential world and will have to be pulled into the actual world in short order.
Let's take a loot at the potential lineup, because it should be both distressing and interesting — and maybe (just maybe) a little bit exciting. Maybe.
Goalkeeper: Nick Rimando (Int'l / USA)
Center back: Jamison Olave (injury), Elias Vasquez (Int'l / Guatemala)
Left back: Demar Phillips (Int'l / Jamaica)
Midfield: Kyle Beckerman (Int'l / USA), Sebastian Saucedo (Int'l / USA U-18s)
Forward: Alvaro Saborio (Int'l / Costa Rica)
Attinella; Beltran, Schuler, Maund, Mansally; Stertzer, Mulholland, Morales; Plata, Jaime, Garcia
Bench: Fernandez, Okwuonu, Kavita, Pecka, Gil, Allen, Sandoval
I recognize that this is hardly analysis at all, but this is probably the strongest lineup RSL can field right now. Maybe Gil starts in Stertzer's place — though he's hardly earned it — and maybe Sandoval or Allen gets the nod as rotational options. And beyond all that, maybe someone starts in place of Chris Schuler, who spent some time out injured and is only just returning to fitness.
But other than that, it's hard to see much deviation from this. Abdoulie Mansally returns to the lineup after a suspension last week, and other than that, it's business as usual.