Will Philly notch a first away win?
Real Salt Lake, by Jeremy Horton: Real were completely dominant in their return home, outplaying a worn-out Toronto team from the get-go. Particularly notable in the highly entertaining match was the possession RSL enjoyed - Toronto had the ball approximately 23 seconds of the match. And RSL did that despite being outnumbered in the midfield, as Toronto played a 4-5-1 for the first half against Salt Lake's 4-4-2. Collen Warner, Will Johnson, and Tony Beltran all had (arguably) their best games of the year, and Andy Williams was simply sensational in place of Javier Morales.
Philadelphia Union, by Keith Hickey: Credit must be given to goalkeeper Chris Seitz for his recent improvements. After looking very shaky in his first few matches, making several glaring errors, he has been much improved in his last three matches, culminating with a smart reflex save shortly before the Los Angeles Galaxy's second goal. Union fans will also be excited that 17-year-old Jack MacInerney picked up his first professional tally. Along with the five goals in five games of Sebastien Le Toux and the work-rate of partner Alejandro Moreno, the front line has been a particular bright spot for Philadelphia.
Salt Lake: Despite their overwhelming dominance, RSL struggled to finish off match and it nearly cost them the win. Although they were up 2-0 at halftime, it should have been more like 4-0. But Real couldn't finish Toronto off, and TFC hung around and pulled back a goal very late in the match, making those last handful of minutes very stressful for the team and the fans. For some reason, Salt Lake can't seem to make a strong performance on the field look like a strong performance on the scoreboard.
Philadelphia: The defense, which many people believed would be the backbone of this Union team, has been largely disappointing. The first and third of LA's goals last match were at least partly the fault of poor marking, while the defense should never have allowed Edson Buddle to get off two shots for the second goal after Seitz did well to save Alan Gordon's powerful header. Captain Danny Califf, in particular, stood and watched from two yards away as Buddle scored his eighth goal of the season.
Salt Lake: With Williams, Johnson, and Warner acquitting themselves well against TFC, Jason Kreis will have to figure out what to do with Morales, who should finally be 100% this week (he missed several games due to injury, then missed last week's game with strep throat). Somebody will have to sit. If Morales isn't fit, he could come off the bench. But if he is fit, expect this one to be sorted out in training this week. Expect a similar battle on the back line too, as Chris Wingert is now healthy.
Philadelphia: Sebastien Le Toux will return from injury, but midfielder Stefani Miglioranzi will miss out after being sent of against Los Angeles. His place could be taken by Andrew Jacobson or rookie Amobi Okugo, who played in that position after Miglioranzi was given his marching orders. Seitz will stay in goal, and the defense should be unchanged. Jacobson or Okugo will be partnered by Fred, with Roger Torres and Shea Salinas on the wings. The usual partnership of Le Toux and Moreno will be reunited up front.
Salt Lake: The confidence is starting to come back in Salt Lake. A string of dismal results on the road, despite some not-too-shabby play, had heads hanging a bit. But some of that swagger we saw at the end of last season is starting to creep in thanks to last week's dominance. This is a streaky team, so if they start feeling their oats, it's not a good sign for opponents.
Philadelphia: Real Salt Lake are the defending MLS Cup champions, and the Union's last chance to claim a big scalp on their long road trip. The boost of having Le Toux back should make up for losing Miglioranzi, and the Union will be hungry for their first good away result. Talented young striker Jack MacInerney, who has made several substitute appearances, will be buoyed by his first professional goal.
Salt Lake: The Union are dealing with some of the inevitable expansion blues, they're racking up tons of frequent flier miles, and RSL are on an uptick. Philly have some seeds of greatness, but they're not there yet. Prediction: Saborio finally has the breakout game fans have been waiting for, and Williams scores another classy goal. Oh, and I am predicting a goal by Le Toux on a PK, just to rile up the RSL fans. Real Salt Lake 3-1 Philadelphia Union (Williams, Saborio , Le Toux).
Philadelphia: I'm picking the Union for a sneaky late equalizer. The Royals may be league champions, but they have lost more games than they've won, and sit in a disappointing sixth place in the Western Conference. If the Union is going to knock off a big name away from home, the Rio Tinto might be the best place to do it. 1-1.
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