Calm before the storm: RSL look to advance to conference final

Calm before the storm: RSL look to advance to conference final

Was that the calm before the storm that just passed? It's a bit windy today. Calm? Who needs calm. I don't need calm. There's a match tonight. It's important.

Calm?

Anyhow, it should be a fascinating one. Olave and Espindola are both in doubt, and I'll be frank here: Espindola worries me. Not as a person, or as a player. Just his absence, to be clear, is what worries me. Olave? He worries me as a player. I don't know what's happened, but after his incredible start to the season, he's dropped off very significantly. Is it just injury? Does he need a full offseason to recover? The problem, to my mind, is that his performances drop significantly when he's carrying a knock. Other players, it affects only slightly. Him? It's big.

Anyway, that is what it is. I'm not worried if we put Kwame Watson-Siriboe in the mix, such is his defensive ability. Don't get me wrong — he's no Olave. There's only one of those. Kwame's style of play isn't far from Nat Borchers' approach: His positioning is excellent and he's great in the air. He doesn't close down on breakaways like Olave, but really, who does? He's a more solid, less explosive player, and maybe that's not a bad thing.

Beltran and Wingert on the wings will have their work quite cut out for them, as usual — even if Mauro Rosales is kept out of the affair by Seattle. As Jason Kreis told me (and others, of course) yesterday after training in his usual press interaction, that's the space the tactical setup affords to opponents. Watson-Siriboe and Borchers have no problem knocking those out of the air, so I'm not too worried.

I'd like to see some more shooting from distance, though. Will Johnson, Javier Morales, Ned Grabavoy and Kyle Beckerman only have a handful of goals between the four of them, and they are capable of so much more. We know Gspurning's quality in stopping shots, but we've got to test him. A rebound or a deflection, and we could be in with a real shout.

Other keys? Don't get injured. Please, please, please don't get injured. And advance. That's my other key. Intense, tactical match? I somehow doubt it. Call me crazy if you like. I might be.

Anyway, lineup prediction, right?

Rimando. Obviously.

Beltran. Watson-Siriboe. Borchers. Wingert. I've addressed this above.

Beckerman. Grabavoy. Johnson. Morales. Take those long shots, boys.

Paulo Junior. Saborio. Run, run, run, Paulo. Oh, and finish, Sabo. I'm confident. Espindola to come off the bench, score a goal or two? I like it.

Let's go.