Categorized | Also Noted

RSL travels to New York for crucial match

Posted on 08 October 2010 by kali

Real Salt Lake travels to New York on Saturday for a match against the Red Bulls (4 pm ET/2 pm MT, Telefutura) for what will be one of the team’s most critical matches all season.

RSL needs a win in order not only to keep pace with LA for Supporters’ Shield, but to also maintain some distance in the standings from FC Dallas for an automatic playoff spot.  Meanwhile, the new-look Red Bulls will be seeking points in order to capture the Eastern Conference title over a slumping Columbus side.

New York ought to pose a stern test for RSL — not only do the Red Bulls have three quality international designated players in Juan Pablo Angel, Thierry Henry, and Rafael Marquez, but the rest of the roster has made a tremendous contribution to the team’s turnaround in 2010.  Joel Lindpere has six assists this season, while rookies Tony Tchani and Tim Ream have played their way into the starting lineup as well.

However, the Red Bulls will be missing several players to international duty — Dane Richards, Bouna Coundoul, and Andrew Boyens will not be available.  Richards’ absence could be the most glaring for RBNY coach Hans Backe, as the midfielder’s form has surged lately.

With only one CONCACAF Champions League match left on the schedule and a full week’s rest after last weekend’s victory at New England, RSL should be focused on Saturday.   The team was able to have two full training sessions before leaving for New York, giving the players and coaching staff time to get back in sync and work on a few small things before the final stretch of the season.

While this will be Real’s first visit to Red Bull Arena, resulting in some unfamiliarity, the players and coaches will be happy to leave the artificial surface of the old Giants Stadium behind, as RSL has yet to win a match at New York.  In addition, Giants Stadium played host to one of the strangest episodes in team history — Real’s first-ever match, a scoreless 0-0 draw, was played there in a monsoon in April 2005.

Coach Jason Kreis told The Salt Lake Tribune of his team’s recent form, “I’ve really felt like we haven’t played our best soccer. We haven’t been as sharp or in-tune as we are when we’re at our best defensively and we certainly haven’t been as sharp or in-tune as we have been when we’ve been at our best offensively, as well. So I’m hopeful that this rest will give us a chance to really go full-bore at things.”

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