Real Salt Lake vs. CSD Municipal
2015-16 CONCACAF Champions League
Oct. 20 | 10 pm ET | Rio Tinto Stadium, Sandy, Utah
SANDY, Utah – Real Salt Lake may not prefer it, but all their eggs are now in the CONCACAF Champions League basket.
On Tuesday night, RSL will welcome Municipal for the final match in Group G. RSL picked up a 1-0 victory the first time these two teams met, down in Guatemala. Now it all comes down to the final match. If RSL can either win or tie, they’re through to the knockout rounds, with a win helping their potential quarterfinal seeding prospects.
The game provides an opportunity for some redemption for the home side, as RSL were officially eliminated from playoff contention over the weekend. After a 1-0 defeat to FC Dallas at home on Saturday, the Utah club -- which had qualified for the postseason seven straight times entering this year -- are turning their sole focus to Municipal and the Champions League.
TIRED LEGS: RSL had very small odds to make the Audi 2015 MLS Cup Playoffs before Saturday’s tilt against Dallas, but head coach Jeff Cassar still fielded primarily a first-choice lineup in the loss. Captain Kyle Beckerman, midfielder Javier Morales, forward Juan Manuel "Burrito" Martinez and other key players played the full 90 minutes, which made the loss especially difficult.
It would be surprising to see a lineup of anything other than the regular starters against Municipal, despite the quick turnaround. This upcoming match is the final meaningful game of the season for RSL. Expect Beckerman and Morales to be out there, but RSL will push really hard in the first half to put the game out of reach so the workhorses can be subbed out. If Municipal can stick around past the 60-minute mark, things might get interesting.
SCORING DROUGHT: RSL have not scored a competitive goal in their last two league matches. With the inclusion of Martinez, it looked like the team’s scoring woes were behind them, but they've hit a recent snag.
It might not be necessary to score if they can hold Municipal without a goal, but that’s not a risk that head coach Jeff Cassar is looking to take, especially at home and with some tired legs. RSL will look to reverse the recent scoreless trend to ensure passage beyond the group stage.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
JUAN MANUEL "BURRITO" MARTINEZ, Real Salt Lake: Martinez has lifted the spirits around RSL during an otherwise difficult season. From the minute “Burrito” stepped on the field, he’s been electrifying. Every time he gets on the ball, it seems like he’s poised to do something exciting.
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His vision, technical ability and speed will give RSL plenty of scoring chances. If RSL make it to the next round, you can bet that a large part of it will be due to the play of Martinez.
CARLOS RUIZ, Municipal: Keep your eyes open for “El Pescadito,” well known in MLS. He nearly scored a handful of times during the teams' first matchup in Guatemala City and, if not for goalkeeper Nick Rimando, RSL might not be sitting so pretty right now.
The wily veteran always seems to find himself in dangerous positions, and if RSL want to get a positive result, they’ll have to keep their eyes on him.