Real Salt Lake re-invented itself over the past two transfer windows. Sure, they have Morales, Beckerman, Rimando still, but there are new shiny DPs in the attack. Yura Movsisyan is back. Burrito, Juan Manuel Martinez, adds more footwork and passing skill. While Seattle Sounders lost their Nigerian star, RSL added Sunny Obayan, who isn't a DP, but is quite good. Both teams played a long portion of their last match with only ten men, so the March 12th 1 PM game on JOEtv will feature a required change at fullback for each of them. RSL drew their match 2-2 while Seattle lost 1-0.
Matt from RSL Soapbox answers Three Questions.
SaH: Playing down a man for that long sucks, we know!, what can RSL take from their match with OCSC?
RSLSB: The biggest thing Real Salt Lake can take away is that they managed to create good shots and opportunities. This is an area where the team struggled in 2015, and it was a clear area of focus during the offseason. The best thing? That remained the case after going to 10 men.
Of course, it wasn't all so rosy â a two-goal stoppage-time capitulation shows us that not all is well with the defense. The club will actively seek to bring in another player, but that's not been without its difficulties. Watch for weakness in RSL on set pieces and route-one soccer.
SaH: What do you expect from Burrito now that he's had an offseason?
RSLSB: It's hard to know what to expect from Burrito, if just because we're only now getting a true glimpse of his capabilities. We know tactically, he can and will pop up anywhere to stretch defenses; individually, he's shown immense dribbling capabilities â but it's always purposeful, and that's the most encouraging part about his play. There's always a sense of movement and intention behind his dribbling.
SaH: What will be Yura's hardest adjustment upon returning to the league?
RSLSB: So far, Movsisyan's only adjustment he still needs to introduce is all about finishing. He hasn't been clinical quite yet. In a sense, this is because he needs to adjust to playing week-in, week-out again. He's spent the last two years basically jumping from starter to role player and back again, so this stability will be tested.
Rimando; Beltran, Olave, Maund, Wingert; Beckerman, Sunny, Morales; Plata, Martinez, Movsisyan
RSLSB: How worrying is Seattle's backline situation for this match?
SaH: The good news is it looks like Tyrone Mears will be back. He's the normal starter, and while not up to the standard he was early last season is still better than a converted left back (Remick) or center mid (Sturgis, Roldan). That still leaves Zach Scott starting. Zach plays through pain, and injury. He is hearty, tough and a true Sounder. He's also on his last legs. The lack of lateral movement is apparent, and he picks up unnecessary fouls in dangerous areas more now than a few years ago. RSL will not beat him, nor Marshall, in the air. But quick passes and other square movements will be quite effective. Plus, there's no real backup. Ockford and Lowe are out on loan. Torres is on the IR without being on the IR. That leaves true rookie Tony Alfaro as the only sub at CB.
RSLSB: Obviously, the sale of Obafemi Martins hasn't made things easier for your team in the attack. Why should RSL be defensively worried anyway?
SaH: Clint Dempsey still exists. But you knew that. Seattle's other two starting forwards are DP Nelson Haedo Valdez, who may be Paraguay's best player and American phenom Jordan Morris. Altogether that's a potent front three. Providing them service is Andreas Ivanschitz. He's what David Beckham was back when Becks could run, except left footed. Ivanschitz provides great set-piece service and sees the field quite well. Plan A in getting the forwards the ball is through Andreas. Plan B is via the long ball. That's not a great alternate plan, so marking out AI can lead to boring soccer by Seattle.
RSLSB: With more than a year of Garth Lagerwey as your GM, what's the feeling like in Sounders-land? Are people still happy and a bit prone to gloating about his arrival?
SaH: I think the excitement over the surprise hire is gone. Now it's more a confusion about just what exactly does Garth do. Most of the players brought in so far have been guys on Seattle's radar for some time (they 1st reached out to Valdez three years ago, Morris, Friberg, etc). The only pure Lagerwey move is probably Joevin Jones. Essentially, by coming into a team with such a solid foundation Garth's influence is muted. It makes critique of his performance difficult.
Frei; J.Jones, Marshall, Scott, Mears; Alonso, Friberg; Ivanschitz; Dempsey, Valdez, Morris