In 2010 and 2011, Real Salt Lake arrived in San Jose for the season opener and each case came away with the victory. In 2010, the match was an impressive debut for the club as they kick started their season with a 3-0 win which included a brace from Javier Morales. In 2011, it was a second half strike from Kyle Beckerman that lifted the club to the three points.
In both cases, it was a situation where the advantages were pointed in RSL’s favor. The 2010 season featured the Claret-and-Cobalt coming off of an MLS Cup victory and starting the following season with the key pieces from that victory still intact. The lone exception was the addition of Alvaro Saborio who replaced the departed Yura Movsisyan. At the same time, San Jose was coming off of a last place finish from the prior year and had a number of changes to that squad as they tried to change their fortunes for the 2010 campaign.
Likewise, in 2011 the RSL team had come off of a successful prior season in which it fell just shy of a Supporters Shield, and the squad brought forward virtually the same lineup as they had for 2010. Once again, the Earthquakes were looking to improve their squad and had significant turnover heading into the 2011 season.
Now the shoe is on the other foot…sort of. Although Real Salt Lake had a relatively successful campaign in 2012, they’ve chosen to make a number of changes. Because of those changes, and injuries to three significant players (Borchers, Wingert, Morales) the team expects to see at least six starters tonight that were not considered “first choice” a season ago.
Here is a possible lineup for RSL:
On the San Jose side, they are coming off of their most successful seasons in the current iteration of the club with a very successful 19-6-9 record for 66 points which led to them capturing the Supporters Shield. En route to that record, the Earthquakes managed to get the best of Real Salt Lake in all three of their encounters in 2012. This included a 3-1 win, a 2-1 win, and a 5-0 drubbing. As a result of their 2012 success, all of their key pieces remain intact heading into the 2013 campaign. In fact, if not for injuries they would likely have the same starting lineup as a season ago. They are expected to miss Chavez, Beitashour and Lenhart. If that’s the case, then we could see this lineup:
So what do you think – are the odds stacked against Real Salt Lake? What do you expect for the outcome?