One leg semi final and the winner will host the final on October 1st, where the victor will claim a hugely valuable CONCACAF Champions League spot. Real Salt Lake have had their eye on both that return to international club football and a domestic title all season and we spoke about that ahead of their quarter final with Carolina Railhawks at the end of June .....
We spoke about Railhawks ahead of their last round win over Chivas and they had earlier beaten LA Galaxy, they are not to be underestimated , but both of those wins came at home, LAG did not show the competition respect in terms of approach and Real are no Chivas ! Winner of this will earn a home semi final and it is very much time for the bigger clubs to start taking matters seriously, with the competition winners earning a spot in the 2014-15 CONCACAF Champions League, far an away the easiest route into international club football. Real are unbeaten in seven matches in all comps and scoring freely, coach Jason Kreis said yesterday "I just think that our intent this year is to win it ( the US Open)." They look set to name a very strong line up and have spoken of the desire to end this inside 90 minutes, with the match the second of four inside 12 days. I favour them to get the job done and to push for a second goal if the first comes early enough, to avoid late drama.
They won that 3-0 and have talked again this week about how motivated they are for this, the match will also be the first of three with Portland Timbers this month, games which could go a long way towards deciding the Supporters Shield and pecking order for the MLS Cup playoffs and they will be looking to lay down a benchmark performance.
Real were on a long unbeaten run before losing consecutive games ( 2-1 @ home to Sporting KC and 4-3 on the road to New York conceding late winners in each), they were without a host of key players for both, as we discussed at the time, but had Álvaro Saborío, Kyle Beckerman and keeper Nick Rimando all back for the 2-2 road draw with Colorado Rapids on Saturday, only Tony Beltran (pictured) and Chris Wingert (both suspended) were missing from the line up. Rimando was key in earning the point, he has conceded just 16 goals in 18 MLS outings this season, RSL have allowed ten in the other five. Right back Beltran is very solid, they are 10-3-3 when he plays, 1-2-4 without him, infact, they have won just one of the last 14 he has sat out and we are talking about a team in the top 3 of the West in each of those three seasons. Both he and Wingert return tonight , the first time the backs have played together since the win over Carolina, when both scored. When everyone is available, I think Real are the best team in the MLS this season and favour them to take this and a trophy they are very keen on. 1.5 units Real Salt Lake -0.75 ball 2.13 asian handicap/Ibramarket.
Brazil Serie A : Criciúma-Cruzeiro
Hosts have won just once in nine starts, a 2-1 home defeat of Gremio, the sound you can hear in the background is the grinding of teeth as I type that, we were on the visitors that night who pushed the self destruct button and ending the match with nine players, playing almost an entire half two men short !
The hosts are coming off a 2-0 home defeat to Corinthians and will struggle with the quick turnaround against another quality team, as they have lost three key starters to injury, suspension and loan arrangement, in defensive midfielders Amaral (5-0-0) and Elton (9-1-0 .... lost both he has sat out, conceding five goals) and striker Wellington Paulista (6-3-0 ... scored the opener against Gremio), who is registered with the visitors. Without the protection the midfield pair offer the backline it will be hard to kept the league's top scorers out and Cruzeiro will be motivated for the three points which might well take them top of the table. Vistors have named a very attacking squad and taken six strikers with them in a 21 man travelling group, easy to see why they have scored 23 goals already. They are without a defensive midfielder of their own in Nílton (11-3-0), but they have options and look in so much better shape than the hosts. They lost their last road game 1-0 at Fluminenese, i watched that and was impressed with Gremio who looked very classy going forward and on another day, would have been three up inside 30 minutes and if they half as many chances this evening, will win with a degree of comfort. 1.5 units Cruzeiro -0.5 ball 2.14 asian line/Ibramarket.
Cruzeiro : Fábio, Rafael, Ceará, Egídio ,Mayke,Bruno Rodrigo, Dedé, Léo, Victorino,Leandro Guerreiro, Lucas Silva, Souza ,Tinga, Everton Ribeiro , Ricardo Goulart, Borges, Luan, Lucca, Martinuccio, Vinicius Araújo ,Wiilian.