Jason Kreis and a few of his boys head to North Texas this weekend to battle it out with FC Dallas in triple digit heat. Real Salt Lake is facing some challenges for this second of three meetings in 2013, so we speak to Matt Montgomery over at RSL Soapbox to gain some insight.
1. What has the RSL faithful's reaction been to the YSA letter received from the Front Office and MLS? I know that the league's stance can be a polarizing issue.
The answer, I suppose, depends on who you ask: If you ask some of our more devout supporters groups, it's all anger and - what's the phrase? - piss and vinegar. I think that's it. They've got a particular way of reacting to things, and it's all rather predictable. It's funny, really. There are also swathes - and by swathes, I mean an easy majority - who really just want to watch the game and not worry about it, and this YSA issue has just gone on too long. It's a tricky issue, for me. Fans have a right to feel somewhat aggrieved, but the now-constant harping on about how "YSA never hurt anyone" and all that is tiresome.
2. Once again, Real Salt Lake is coming to North Texas with several roster absences. With so many guys out on CONCACAF Gold Cup duty, who will be the bench players to fill in those gaps, and what are the key challenges to overcome?
If by several, you mean bucketloads, I'd agree. We're missing Kyle Beckerman, Tony Beltran, Nick Rimando, and Alvaro Saborio to international duty, a fair few others to injury, and Lovel Palmer to a laughable red card. Filling in the gaps: Josh Saunders at the back, and he does look to be in good form right now, so that's encouraging. In for Beltran is probably - uh - Chris Wingert, I guess. Which is funny, because he's our left back, but Lovel Palmer is out of contention for a strange red card. So Wingert seems likely to slide over, and Abdoulie Mansally steps in on the left. That'll essentially flip our attacking front, so coping with that switch in the midfield will be key. Kyle Beckerman is replaced by Yordany Alvarez, which isn't the worst substitution you could make but hardly preferable, and Alvaro Saborio is replaced surprisingly easily by one of our four strikers.
3. There has been a bit of rebuilding in Utah this past year losing some longtime players and making some important signings. Has the RSL style that Jason Kreis has worked hard to establish adapted to a new normal or remained relatively unchanged?
It's a new normal, as you say, but it's a pretty similar look to how we played for the past few years. The midfield has taken on a more attacking look without Will Johnson, who was too busy crushing midfielders to score the goals he's been grabbing this season. Ned Grabavoy essentially operates in the box-to-box role where before he was more of a linking player, and Luis Gil takes on the linking-attacking role. The individual qualities of those players lend themselves to a different look, and that's where it's coming from - so maybe it's not that things have necessarily changed significantly, but that the qualities of the players involved have changed. As a result, we see more attack from, say, Kyle Beckerman, or Tony Beltran.
Matt's lineup prediction: Saunders; Wingert, Borchers, Salcedo, Mansally; Alvarez, Grabavoy, Gil, Morales; Garcia, Plata (but who really knows up top, yeah?)
For my answers and additional insight into these topics and many others, I encourage you to go explore the RSL Soapbox website. If you are interested in Supporters' Culture in Utah, there have been some especially well reasoned responses to the YSA Letter (I like this one by Jake). While this particular chant hasn't made headlines in DFW, it is interesting to see how our colleagues are handling these growing pains along with their club and the league.
Weigh in with your thoughts below. What do you think of our 3 Question exchange? Comments on supporter culture and current affairs? Gameday predictions for Saturday?
Thanks for reading!