You can’t blame those who thought the losses of Andy Williams, Collen Warner, Robbie Russell, and Jean Alexandre would tear into Real Salt Lake’s characteristic depth, but after one month of the season, it’s clear RSL’s reloaded.
Early season fitness issues surrounding Javier Morales and Alvaro Saborio allowed Jason Kreis to show off this year’s reinforcements. Paulo Junior’s role looks set to expand again up top. Luis Gil is ready to persist with the contributions he made in Morales’ absence, while Sebastian Velasquez and Jonny Steele have claimed regular spots in Kreis’ midfield rotation. Chris Schuler is pushing Nat Borchers at the back.
To this point, Kreis hasn’t had to give a firm indication as to who’s in his choice XI, though it was assumed Alvaro Saborio and Fabian Espindola will be his forwards, Ned Grabavoy and Will Johnson will get the key starts between Javier Morales and Kyle Beckerman, while Nat Borchers will have the toughest time retaining his starting spot along side Jamison Olave.
But as RSL approaches full health, questions persist. Let’s look at how the playing time has shaken out thus far:
- Although Alvaro Saborio has appeared in all six matches, he’s only started two. Paulo Junior has been the regular starter as the team’s advanced attacker, usually supported by Fabian Espindola. Outstanding question: When will Saborio resume his starting spot?
- At the top of the diamond, Morales has only started once, playing just 212 minutes all season. Luis Gil, however, has started six times, five in the midfield’s most advanced position. Outstanding questions: When will Morales fully return, and does that bump Gil to the bench or the left side of midfield?
- At the wide midfield positions, Ned Grabavoy and Sebastian Velasquez have made the most starts, but Will Johnson, Jonny Steele and Gil are also options. Johnson was hobbled to start the year, though his time out only created an opening for Velasquez. Outstanding question: Which two players will emerge as go-to guys between Morales and Beckerman?
- And at the back, Chris Schuler’s gotten four starts, Nat Borchers two to the left of Jamison Olave. Borchers was slowed up by injury last month, but even since his return, the former MLS Best XI member is time-sharing. Outstanding question: Does Kreis see this as Schuler’s time?
I couldn’t find a good place to link this within the piece, but if you want a little more on Saturday’s showdown, here’s a little bit on how the formations match up as well as the potential impact of Sporting Kansas City’s Bobby Convey.
At the FA Cup final on Saturday at Wembley there was a moving tribute to the people killed in the Manchester bombing attack earlier this week.
On Monday a suicide bomber killed 22 people and injured a further 67 after detonating a bomb outside Manchester Arena following an Ariana Grande concert.
Ahead of the FA Cup final, Arsenal and Chelsea came together to salute everyone impacted by the atrocity.
Watch the moving video below as 90,000 stood in silence to show their solidarity.
Alexis Sanchez’s goal put Arsenal 1-0 up early on in the FA Cup final against Chelsea in hugely controversial fashion.
[ LIVE: Follow the FA Cup final here ]
Initially the goal was called out for offside on Aaron Ramsey who didn’t touch the ball but was mightily close to the action, but referee Anthony Taylor overruled his linesman and gave the goal.
There was also a hint of a handball on Sanchez’s part as the ball ricocheted off him in a tackle.
Watch the video below as Chelsea were left fuming but Arsenal didn’t care…
The U-20 World Cup in South Korea continues to provide plenty of drama.
[ MORE: U-20 World Cup latest ]
In Group C already-qualified Portugal fought back from 1-0 down against Iran to win 2-1 and sealed their spot in the last 16, while Costa Rica join both Portugal and Zambia in the knockout rounds after they beat Zambia 1-0.
Italy led Japan 2-0 in Group D but Japan fought back to make it 2-2 as they made it through to the last 16 alongside Italy and Uruguay. Elsewhere in Group D Uruguay and South Africa played out a 0-0 draw with Uruguay already through to the knockout rounds (they have yet to concede a goal) and South Africa heading home.
The final set of group games take place on Sunday with Groups E and F coming to a close, including the U.S. facing Saudi Arabia as Tab Ramos’ men aim to seal a spot in the last 16.
Three of the eight last 16 matches have now been confirmed with England facing Costa Rica, Venezuela taking on Japan and hosts South Korea will play Portugal.
Click on the link above for all the latest news from the U-20 World Cup, while below are video highlights from Saturday’s four games in Groups C and D.
Group C – Portugal 2-1 Iran
Group C – Costa Rica 1-0 Zambia
Group D – Japan 2-2 Italy
Group D – Uruguay 0-0 South Africa
Arsenal and Chelsea clash in the FA Cup final at Wembley on Saturday.
[ LIVE: Follow the FA Cup final here ]
For Chelsea a win would complete a memorable double in Antonio Conte‘s first season in charge.
And for Arsenal it is about restoring some pride in a season where they finished in fifth place in the Premier League, and Arsene Wenger becoming the record FA Cup holder as a manager.
Below are the starting lineups for both teams as Chelsea line up as expected, while Arsenal have Per Mertesacker starting with Gabriel, Koscielny and Mustafi all out injured.
Click on the link above to follow the game live, while ProSoccerTalk will have analysis, reaction and more from Wembley following the full-time whistle.
Chelsea: Courtois; Azpilicueta, David Luiz, Cahill; Moses, Kante, Matic, Alonso; Pedro, Diego Costa, Hazard. Subs: Begovic, Zouma, Ake, Terry, Fabregas, Willian, Batshuayi