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April 9, 2010 at 10:29 PM

First look at Real Salt Lake, preview and prediction post

Real Salt Lake (1-1-0)
Head coach: Jason Kreis, 4th year
Last week: Lost at Houston 2-1
Last year: 11-12-7 regular season, won MLS Cup
KEY RSL PLAYERS
MF Kyle Beckerman — The dreadlocked one runs the show and has USMNT experience. Great tackling ability, great passer, great feel for the game. Recently signed an extension to stay on as the team’s captain — I felt he might’ve caught on with a European club.
GK Nick Rimando — Seattle will have some chances, but if Rimando can make some stops early, it might frustrate the visitors. Maybe create some self-doubt? Who knows.
F Robbie Findley — Speedster from Oregon State could be a gamechanger with his pace. I wouldn’t say the Seattle backline is particularly fast, so if he gets in behind a couple times, watch out.


KEY MATCHUPS
MF Javier Morales v. MF Osvaldo Alonso — Morales might be the league MVP so far this season. With three goals, and all of them very well taken, he’ll be looking to continue that form at home. Big responsibility on Ozzie to shut him down.
F Fredy Montero v. D Jamison Olave — David v. Goliath, from a physical standpoint. But the hulking Olave hasn’t been getting the benefit of the doubt in the early part of the season, and if he gets too rough with Fredy it might cost them.
RSL home-field advantage v. Seattle’s road history — The hosts will have a big celebration to honor last year’s championship before the game Saturday. It will be the home opener. Oh yeah, RSL went 9-1-5 and outscored opponents 34-11 at home last season. Will the Sounders FC, which had good success on the road last year, be able to keep up?
PREDICTION
I see the run of play being very even in this game. It will be a back-and-forth, up-and-down game. Major League Soccer at its finest, between two quality sides.
I think Seattle will take the early lead on — get this — a Freddie Ljungberg free kick (he took a couple nice ones in training a few days back). RSL will equalize in the second half, Beckerman to Findley.
Real Salt Lake 1, Sounders FC 1
29′ — Ljungberg (un)
68′ — Findley (Beckerman)

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