Join Now  | 
Home About Contact Us Privacy & Security Advertise
Soccer America Daily Soccer World Daily Special Edition Around The Net Soccer Business Insider College Soccer Reporter Youth Soccer Reporter Soccer on TV Soccer America Classifieds Game Report
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalk Soccer America Confidential Youth Soccer Insider World Cup Watch
RSS Feeds Archives Manage Subscriptions Subscribe
Order Current Issue Subscribe Manage My Subscription Renew My Subscription Gift Subscription
My Account Join Now
Tournament Calendar Camps & Academies Soccer Glossary Classifieds
RSL rolls into Chicago full of confidence
by Ridge Mahoney, November 13th, 2009 7AM
Subscribe to Soccer America Daily

MOST READ

MOST COMMENTED

[MLS PLAYOFF PREDICTION]Chicago hosts a conference final for the first time since 2003, which is also the last time it reached an MLS Cup championship game, when it plays Real Salt Lake Saturday at Toyota Park.

EASTERN CONFERENCE FINAL
SATURDAY
CHICAGO vs. REAL SALT LAKE (8 p.m., Fox Soccer Channel, Fox Sports en Espanol)

Though the Fire is at home, RSL has reeled off three straight victories, and actually matches up very well. It may have peaked last week in winning, 3-2, in Columbus, yet is riding such a wave of confidence and momentum it can certainly prevail again. Chicago is just as pumped after thumping New England, 2-0, in front of a roaring, sellout crowd, which the team is hoping will show up again for one more Saturday night.

RSL has a vast range of talent in midfield -Javier Morales, Andy Williams, Kyle Beckerman, Will Johnson - and two forwards in good form, Robbie Findley andYura Movsisyan, as well as Fabian Espindola andClint Mathis. Morales is one of those irritating playmakers who can stroke a through ball, clip a cross, or loft a chip over the back line, and moves so intelligently he's hard to track. RSL surprises teams by pinching in its outside midfielders and creating chances simply with greater numbers, as it did to spring Morales for the goal that started the comeback from a 2-0 deficit in Columbus.

Chicago, of course, has one of the league's best game-breakers, Cuauhtemoc Blanco, who can mesmerize and freeze an opponent by floating around the attacking third in search of the right ball at the right moment. Beckerman and Johnson must monitor him but also pass him off to defenders while making sure there is cover, otherwise Brian McBrideor Patrick Nyarko orChris Rolfe will spring through a gap. Nyarko, like Findley and Movsisyan, is blazing fast, and in his second pro season is finding more ways to get in behind the opposition's back line.

Both Beckerman and Chicago's John Thorrington are tough in the tackle, can run all day, and can sneak forward on a late run, as Thorrington did to stab home a Blanco pass against the Revs. This is the biggest pro game for a few players on both teams, so how a Marco Pappa(Chicago) or Tony Beltran (RSL) responds at a critical moment might decide the outcome.

Injuries and the transfer of Bakary Soumare to French club Boulogne in midseason has forced Chicago to revamp its back line, though central defender Wilman Conde may be fit enough to play. Daniel Woolard played left back and Dasan Robinson lined up in the middle alongsideC.J. Brown with Brandon Prideaux at right back to subdue the Revs, but RSL is a far more potent team.

"If you look at our stats from last year and this year," says keeperJon Busch, "they're pretty much identical: 10 clean sheets in the same amount of games, one more goal against this year (34) than we gave up last year, so it's pretty amazing to see that we're right there even with the amount of changes we've had in the back line."
Prediction:Fire 3, RSL 2.

Ridge Mahoney's Playoff prediction record:4-4.

 



No comments yet.

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Soccer America Daily
Video Pick: Brazilian 14-year-old scores with scorpion kick    
Very likely the most amazing goal you'll see this week is a scorpion kick golazo by ...
Hall of Fame: Chastain, MacMillan and Garber form '16 class    
U.S. Women's World Cup champions and Olympic gold-medalists Brandi Chastain and Shannon MacMillan and MLS commissioner ...
Copa Centenario: Brazil overhaul is complete    
Brazil coach Dunga announced his 23-player squad for the Copa Centenario represents an almost complete overhaul ...
Video Pick: Doin' the Yaya Toure Hustle    
Embarrassing video of Yaya Toure lollygagging around the Bernabeau on Wednesday embodied Manchester City's listless Champions ...
MLS's best player moves of 2016 (Part 1)    
How complicated are MLS rules for a team seeking to sign a player? The league lists ...
MLS: Rolfe and Manneh handed bans    
The MLS Disciplinary Committee has suspended D.C. United forward Chris Rolfe and Vancouver's Kekuta Manneh for ...
No U.S. refs picked for Olympic Games    
The FIFA Referees Committee named 32 referees and 56 assistant refs for men's and women's Olympic ...
What They're Saying: Jamie Vardy lookalike Lee Chapman    
"Ranieri spotted me. The rest of the players were banging on the window for me to ...
NASL: Rowdies sign former England international Joe Cole    
The Tampa Bay Rowdies have signed former England international Joe Cole on a contract through the ...
TV Report: Wambach joins ESPN    
ESPN has hired retired women's star Abby Wambach to serve as an analyst and contributor, beginning ...
>> Soccer America Daily Archives