PBP: ANOTHER TOUGH ROAD CHALLENGE
Things won’t be any easier for the Philadelphia Union when they take on the defending MLS Cup champions Real Salt Lake on Saturday at 4:00pm EST on 6abc (pre-game show will begin at 3:30pm).
Real Salt Lake is a dangerous team, especially at home where they are unbeaten in their last 12 regular season games, and in 15 total matches in all competitions.
Their midfield is solid, led by Captain Kyle Beckerman and offensive catalyst Javi Morales. Morales missed the last 3 games but is expected back Saturday. If RSL is able to field a healthy midfield, you will see those two, plus Will Johnson and Andy Williams. That’s as good a foursome in midfield as any team in MLS. Winning the midfield will be a key to Philadelphia’s hopes for an upset on the road, but that’s a tougher task without the suspended Stefani Miglioranzi. Will Peter Nowak just place someone else in Miglioranzi’s spot or will he change things formation-wise to try to offset RSL’s talented midfield?
Other things to look for:
Matchup of goalkeepers, teacher vs the student. Nick Rimando won the MLS Cup trophy a year ago, with Chris Seitz as his backup. Earlier this year, Seitz told me how much he learned from Rimando. On Saturday, moments after Seitz receives his MLS Cup ring, he gets to oppose Rimando. You can imagine how emotional a day this will be for Seitz.
As for the offense, will Sebastien Le Toux return to the lineup as a starter, or come off the bench? Will he play at all? No official word from the Union, but he is on the trip. I would take that as a good sign that we could see him at some point this weekend. Regardless of who is up top for Philadelphia, they can expect a physical battle if they are going down the middle. No one ever has an easy time playing against Jamison Olave and Nat Borchers.
Two disturbing trends that each team would like to see end on Saturday:
Philadelphia has had a player sent off in 3 of their first 5 games.
Real Salt Lake has allowed 4 penalty kicks (all have led to goals) in 6 games.