Tonight RSL will host its first U.S. Open Cup match of 2012. This tournament has been a focus of the organization this year and was clearly emphasized when RSL bought away the rights to host this game at Rio Tinto versus Minnesota. In fact, many MLS organizations are beginning to take this tournament more seriously since the winner will get an automatic berth into the CONCACAF Champions League the following year. The Seattle Sounders have been dominant in this tournament as of late, winning it consecutively for the past 3 years. This year RSL hopes to put an end to that.
Tonight RSL plays the Minnesota Stars who play in the NASL (North American Soccer League) and are a very good team in their own respect. Last year the Stars played very well, winning the NASL playoffs, and thus far, are still unbeaten in 2012. I don’t know much about the Stars but from what I have researched, we better not underestimate them. They will play tough and with their backs against the wall tonight. It should be very exciting to see.
Head coach Jason Kreis said after Saturday’s match that tonight he will put out “nearly the best lineup that we have possible”. Therefore I have predicted the following lineup taking into account the injuries and national team duty that some of our key players will be involved in (Nick Rimando, Kyle Beckerman, Will Johnson, Alvaro Saborio)
My predicted starting XI:
Kyle Reynish (GK), Terukazu Tanaka, Nat Borchers, Jamison Olave, Tony Beltran, Ned Grabavoy, Yordany Alvarez, Sebastian Velasquez, Luis Gil, Fabian Espindola, Paulo Jr.
Real Salt Lake will have to come out quick and put the pressure on Minnesota. I think that lately RSL has been unable to go ahead of teams and maintain the same level of energy throughout the entire 90 minutes. In this case, what ends up happening is the other team is eventually let back into the game and we are forced to hope and pray that some last minute heroics will get us a result. Don’t get me wrong, I love the wins and the amazing finishes to some of the games thus far in the season but it would sure be nice to not have to depend on that sort of thing having to happen every game.
The game kicks off tonight at 7:00 pm MST from Rio Tinto Stadium. There are still tickets available for only $15 here: http://www15.ticketingcentral.com/V2/PickASection.aspx?t=E355FB948CF0BBB6C310E02 Also, if you have a “Pass of All Passes” then this game is included in your package and you simply have to bring your pass to the box office to get your ticket.
Should RSL win tonight, they will advance to play either the San Jose Earthquakes (MLS) in San Jose or the Fort Lauderdale Strikers (NASL) at home, either one on Tuesday June 5th.
Gooooooo Real Salt Lake!
Here are some fun facts about the 2012 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup that I pulled from USsoccer.com:
- Largest field of teams (64) in tournament proper in competition’s modern era (1995 to present), eclipsing previous record of 42 (2005, 2006)
- Largest expansion of teams (24) from previous a year in competition’s modern era
- First time in modern era where all U.S.-based Division I, II and III professional clubs will participate in tournament proper
- Home teams through quarterfinal round to be determined by random selection (change from sealed bid process)
- Largest field of professional teams (32) in tournament proper in competition’s modern era, eclipsing previous record of 28 (2000, 2001)
- Largest field of amateur teams (32) in tournament proper in competition’s modern era, eclipsing previous record of 21 (2011)
***By the way I don’t know if I posted these photos yet from RSL’s win vs Toronto FC (Johnny Steele’s last minute game winner): https://picasaweb.google.com/100525753345694486365/20120428RSLVTorontoFC