Real Salt Lake Vs. Monterrey, 2011 CONCACAF Champions League Final: Preview

Posted In Match Previews and Reviews - By Kevin McCauley On Wednesday, April 27th, 2011 With 0 Comments

Real Salt Lake are coming home with a 2-2 draw in hand, and Monterrey are without arguably their best two players not named Humberto Suazo, as well as two other key cogs. Striker Aldo de Nigris, striker/winger Sergio Santana, versatile midfielder Luis Ernesto Perez, and defensive midfielder Jesus Zavala are all out for the second leg. Real Salt Lake are only expected to be missing Kyle Beckerman, who is suspended for yellow card accumulation.

Beckerman is a massive loss,  and RSL looked like a much worse team last season when they did not have him, but Monterrey’s losses are much more severe. Either Humberto Suazo will have to play as a lone striker or Dario Carreño, Monterrey’s fourth best striker, will have to play. If Carreño plays, either him or Suazo will likely have serious defensive responsibilities, namely dropping deep to mark whoever replaces Beckerman, since both Zavala and Perez are out. It is not a good situation for Monterrey.

So, to recap all of the adversity Monterrey is dealing with tonight: They are missing four key players, they had a game last weekend, they have a must-win game this weekend, and they gave up two away goals in the first leg. Are Real Salt Lake favorites? Yes. To take it a step further…are Real Salt Lake chokers if they don’t get a good enough result to go through tonight. Here’s a bombshell: YES.

This is coming from a guy who also runs a Mexican football website. I’ve probably seen Monterrey play 40 times since 2009. They have been far and away the most consistent team on this continent since then. This season, in the 2011 Clausura, they have been wildly inconsistent. Suazo has been good, but not his usual spectacular self, partially due to injuries. Neri Cardozo has been good, but the other players who are missing tonight have been their other best attackers.

If we do not accept that the clear class of MLS are favorites at home with two away goals against the eighth placed team in Mexico who are missing four of their best players, then we, as Major League Soccer fans, have a massive inferiority complex. This is the biggest game in MLS history, regardless of the result. It isn’t just another case of MLS falling short if RSL lose and the biggest win ever if they win. The reason this is the biggest game in the history of MLS is because this is the first time that the MLS side has been the clear favorite in a game of this magnitude. If RSL lose, barring the referee completely screwing them over, it is absolutely a choke.

Besides the aforementioned possibility of a terrible refereeing performance, the only other way I can see RSL not pulling off the result they need is if Jason Kreis completely gets his tactics wrong in accounting for Kyle Beckerman’s absence. Based on how much Kreis obsesses over his job, this seems highly unlikely. I like RSL to nick a 1-1 draw tonight while looking like the better side, and therefore, lifting the cup at the end.

About Kevin McCauley - Kevin McCauley is the Editor in Chief of The Allocation Order. He is also the managing editor at World Soccer Reader and a contributor on multiple levels to SBNation

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