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RSL Soapbox Roundtable: 2013 MLS Cup preview

RSL Soapbox contributors Kreg Asay, Chad Loveland, and Jason Greenwood shared some thoughts on Saturday's impending match — easily the biggest match of the year, paired against an opponent which promises excitement and frustration in equal measure.

Douglas C. Pizac-USA TODAY Sport

Jason Greenwood

Don't give the referee the opportunity to decide the match. While it hasn't exactly been a year to remember for PRO, Hilario Grajeda was named as the organization's Referee of The Year for a reason. Grajeda is a referee who is fair and favors letting the players play but also doesn't hesitate to discipline players for going overboard. Expect him to be quick and decisive on Saturday. RSL must avoid the rash challenges that we've seen pop up at various times throughout the season.

Take the home crowd out as early as possible. Despite Jason Kreis' -probably accurate- comments earlier this week that the most difficult home crowds in MLS are all in the Western Conference I'd say it's safe to say that Sporting Park will be rocking on Saturday. Winning an MLS Cup is huge but the opportunity to win one at home isn't one that a fan base get to experience often. Sporting are a team who thrive on momentum and when they get it going in their favor they can become the soccer equivalent of a runaway freight train. RSL would do well to come out firing early and grab a goal in the opening half hour. We saw in the second leg of the Western Conference Finals what an early goal for the visiting side can do to a home crowd.

Don't be provoked by Sporting's antics. Say whatever you want about SKC's playing style, they're in this match for a reason. They're a team who have been criticized openly for their particular brand of the beautiful game the past few seasons but it has gotten them results. Expect them to be confrontational, argumentative and flat out provocative both during the run of play and after every whistle. If Real Salt Lake want to leave Kansas City with the Cup in hand they've got to avoid responding to the provocations of Sporting's players and Peter Vermes (MLS' resident sideline super douche).

Kreg Asay

Aside from the somewhat infuriating thoughts regarding the ticketing fiasco, coupled with the non-revelation about Kreis and NYC2, the main MLS site has tried to beat life into a non-existent rivalry between both teams, which no one is buying. Yes, I think it will be a very good (and very physical) game. I expect SKC to get at least two yellow cards (Collin is almost 99% certain to), and if the referee actually calls the game well this should come down to who does better on set pieces - which I believe falls in our favor.

Chad Loveland

It doesn't get more interesting than this, huh? Two teams battle for glory and by all accounts deserve their spots and were slated as top contenders when they met in the summer. In fact, in the previews to their only meeting this year most alluded to the fact that it could very well be a MLS Cup preview. Let's all pray the final is not so controversial. I've stated my opinion on that game a bunch so I won't get into that. This is an epic battle of styles and wits. I really think Garth was spot on when he said the league can decide what type of league they want to be. Based on the awards, it appears that the league doesn't appreciate our tiki-taka style. Hopefully that isn't an omen.

Let's put it honestly: If both teams play at their absolute peak best there is no way RSL doesn't win by at least two goals. SKC is so dependent on goals from set pieces and pressuring teams but when RSL out efforts the other team I don't think anyone in MLS can beat them. That being said RSL at times this season has been a mixed bag. I don't know that there was a 90 minute match where I thought RSL played the full game at a peak. We had halves that were devastatingly effective, but then the other half was very bland or poor.

I really hope our players are prepared to have SKC get away with some nonsense and just know it's coming and take it in stride. We have the technical ability to pass around pressure and have players that can create something from nothing. I might hate SKC and not respect their way of playing soccer, but I can still recognize that they have seen a lot of success and do in fact have several talented players and can be a very dangerous opponent.