While a lot has been made about the short handed Real Salt Lake defense this week, the team’s offensive attack could also see some changes from the opening CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal match last week.
That’s because defender Robbie Russell is slated to replace the suspended Tony Beltran, who was sent off during RSL’s scoreless draw against the Columbus Crew in the series opener.
Russell is a more offensively-minded defender, and could help out with an offense that failed to muster a shot on goal in the scoreless opener.
“I do value my ability in attacking, and with that final pass or hitting in good crosses,” Russell said. “Hopefully the way that our team works, they’ll give me enough time to get up the wing.”
[inline_node:327058]In addition, while the team feels that their attack was somewhat stifled with the weather in the opener, it was the ejections of Beltran and defender Nat Borchers that may have kept the team from showing some of the different looks that they can bring to the table.
Two of those looks are contingent on the play of Paulo Jr. and Arturo Alvarez, who could see time if needed on Tuesday night. Neither player saw any time last week when the team took a defensive posture after the Beltran ejection.
“Tactically, in my mind probably both of those guys would have been inserted into that match,” Kreis said. “Hopefully we can consider some different situations here [at Rio Tinto Stadium on Tuesday].”
Getting on the Same Page
Despite boasting a roster largely intact from 2010, it’s perhaps a little too presumptuous to assume that means automatic cohesiveness on the field.
“It’s one of those things where each year is a new year, and a new chemistry – even if you have the same players,” Russell said. “So it’s one of those things where you have to fight to keep what’s on the pitch the same, especially when you’ve had such success.”
He feels like his team is doing well in this regard, all things considered.
“I definitely feel like we have some work to do,” he said. “I think there are a lot of guys that are on a little bit of a different page, but that comes from being only two games into the season, and having had only a month of preseason.”
Home Field Advantage
In addition to a 25-game unbeaten streak in MLS league play at Rio Tinto, the team currently sits at 33 games unblemished in all competitions. They feel that being at home may prove to be a huge advantage.
“I think we’re in a good spot,” midfielder Will Johnson said. “We’ve got a home game. We’ve just got to win. I think the pressure is on them. They’ve got to come on the road and beat us.” Said Kreis: “I’ve made no bones about my feelings that our crowd has spurred us on to a lot of really, really good results here, and have played a big, big role in our record at home, and so we’ll hope for the same on Tuesday.”
<p><em><strong>Check out the Feb. 24 edition of the <a href="http://www.mlssoccer.com/extratime" target="_blank">ExtraTime Radio podcast</a>, featuring D.C. United's Charlie Davies, </strong></em><strong><em>Real Salt Lake's Nick Rimando and league executive Nelson Rodriguez</em></strong> <em><strong>talking about the new playoff structure.</strong></em></p>
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