Whitecaps / Real Salt Lake Game Intro
The final game of the 2012 MLS season is on tap tonight in the salt plains of Utah with two teams that have both qualified for the MLS Cup post-season in disparate ways.
Real has been solid throughout most of the year, maintaining a consistent presence in the top three Western Conference spots following a slow start to the year in February, when they earned just five points from their opening five matches of the season.
The Whitecaps on the other hand made an impressive burst from the start line, only to fall into varying streaks of success with dizzying losing runs interspersed with periods of success that have seen them almost back into the playoffs with the final position, just ahead of FC Dallas.
It is a significant step for the team to achieve this status in only the second season of their top tier reincarnation, but it hasn’t been easy on the team’s fans, especially those who have lingering heart conditions.
Tonight’s game could very well be a bit of a grab bag in terms of results since both managers could opt to rest players and also experiment with formations and playing personnel ahead of their upcoming two legged playoff competitions.
Real Salt Lake
Real has had the greater injury concerns of late between these two teams, and the list of shelved and doubtful players is of grave concern for the team. Most of the issues are on the defensive end of the pitch which also is the weakest aspect of the team’s play.
However, Real may opt to play most of their remaining regulars tonight as they have been on a hot streak to end the regular campaign (with three wins and a draw) in order to maintain their momentum heading into the post-season.
The team is led by their talented forward line and the spearhead of Alvaro Saborio, who sits behind only San Jose’s Chris Wondolowski in the MLS goals race with 17 tallies.
Vancouver meanwhile may also be advised to put out a very competitive side as the team laid a real egg with last week’s abject performance against Portland that had Coach Martin Rennie essentially apologizing to the fans afterwards for the lack of passion in their play.
Had FC Dallas been able to post a win of their own, then the ‘Caps would have been in a life or death struggle tonight with Real to even qualify for the fifth berth. Fortunately for the west coasters the Texans could not pull it together in time.
Some may feel that this match provides an occasion for rest for Van City’s regulars, but if anything it requires that the likely starters for the LA series take a run for at least half of the match in order to shake out the cobwebs.
The strikers in particular need to get on track as the team has been very poor offensively, save the unlikely recent four goal outburst against an awful Chivas USA side.
Gershon Koffie has been the best player of late for Vancouver, but the offensive contributions of the front line are an absolute necessity if this team is to make an impact in the playoffs.
The guaranteed playoff positions for both sides will likely however see this game be something of a mild affair as both outfits look to tune-up while avoiding injury.
A 1-1 scoring draw is most likely on the cards in Utah.
Whitecaps FC prepare for Saturday’s match against FC Dallas.