Real Salt Lake didn’t walk away last weekend with the Rocky Mountain Cup. But, admittedly, they were at about half-capacity in terms of available players. Rimando came up big a number of times and that game could well have gone far further the other way.
RSL managed to come away with a point, anyway, and now…
The band is back together!
…with the possible exception of Javi, who came out early against the Rapids with an adductor strain. (Are those contagious? They seem to be going around…) That said, Khari looked really sharp from the moment he came on, and, while I did call 3 strikers against the Rapids, it looked as if the midfield was so stretched by that point that they couldn’t capitalize on the extra firepower. I don’t remember Olmes even touching the ball in the last ten minutes of the game when he came on, though the stats tell me he did.
Tomorrow night we’ll see a full squad (with or without Javi). So, while the reunion with Will Johnson on the other side of the pitch will be bittersweet, it won’t be with depleted resources like the last month has been. This one’s for real.
And that’s good because it’s going to be tough.
Will Johnson has led the Timbers from a forgettable position in the tables ending last season to one of the teams battling it out for the top of the Western Conference. And with good reason — they’ve looked fantastic under new head coach, Caleb Porter — I’ve enjoyed watching them develop this year and, if we ever move to Portland, you would definitely see me sporting a green Alaska Airlines jersey. Their style of play, the atmosphere at the games, the whole package reminds me a lot of…well…Real Salt Lake. So watching these two teams play, finally, after the adjustments both have underwent this season…it will be exciting.
I have no predictions for this game. Lineup will probably be fairly standard, with the possible exception of Gil at the top of the diamond and Khari on the outside like the formation after Javi went out on Saturday. Other than that, I don’t know what to expect. I have no idea who, out of these two incredibly closely-matched teams, will come away with a pass to the next round of the Open Cup, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it went into extra time. I only hope RSL kicks the crap out of the Timbers, though, because I want tickets to the Open Cup Final at Rio Tinto…