Apologies for the lapse in posts. Busy couple weeks between preparing for and speaking at WordCamp SLC and getting a new course finished for work kept me from being able to post. I have a post coming about Kreis’ future (with or without Salt Lake) that I haven’t written down yet but hope to get out in the next few days.
It was a disappointing couple of weeks coming back from that break. Momentum is a funny thing, and it seemed like RSL had the momentum going into the bye week and lost it not playing for a week. That fatal rest, combined with a seemingly unstoppable run of form from the Sounders, may have thrown away Real’s chances at the Supporters’ Shield.
For my part, going into Saturday’s away match against Vancouver, I was so braced for failure that when Devon Sandoval nailed that header off a perfect cross from Lovel Palmer, my first reaction was “did it go in?” Because I had already been burned against the Earthquakes celebrating a nailed shot from Robbie Findley that hit the side netting but looked — from Section 26’s angle — to have gone in. But no, that goal from Big Dev combined with one of the best defensive showings of the season proved that even the so-called “reserve team” can beat a top tier MLS team in the running for a playoff run.
Now our sights turn toward one thing. This guy:
RSL’s regular starters rested, we’ll be seeing a fit squad who have dominated some of the best teams this season. DC has everything on the line going into this, but so does RSL and I find it hard to believe that, however possible, DC could pull off a win in Rio Tinto.
Things that make me nervous are the defensive mishaps that have been cropping up of late. But DC hasn’t done anything that’s impressed enough to be that worrisome. Where RSL will need to be careful is on set pieces — where they were ripped apart twice by Lenhart — and on quick, cutting passes through the defense — where the Sounders gutted the back line. If they can shore those areas up, there are enough attacking weapons to be more than enough to come away with a trophy. The best I can see DC doing is keeping RSL from scoring and holding a draw the full 90. But even then, the odds are in RSL’s favor, having won two matches this tournament in extra time. I’m not saying it’s a sure bet, and any loss at this point is going to be hard to swallow, but it’s as close to a sure bet as it gets.