Match Preview: RSL v. NYRB, Desert Diamond Cup

Match Preview: RSL v. NYRB, Desert Diamond Cup

It's been too long, old friend. You've been away since November and we've started to get anxious in your absence. It's about time you came back to us. Is it March yet? Hogwash. Who needs March. Tonight brings our first steps toward glory, fame, and a little cup: The Desert Diamond Cup.

Or at least one of those things is true. It's time, though, for the first broadcast match of the season, a friendly against New York Red Bulls in the Desert Diamond Cup in sunny Tucson, Arizona. Are you ready for my endlessly meandering thoughts, as per usual? Well, let's get on with it, shall we?

Who We Might See

We're probably going to see a number of our trialists and our draft picks. That sort of goes without saying. The speedy Emiliano Bonfigli will likely see time up front — maybe 60 minutes, though who really knows — and we'll probably see the promising Enzo Martinez and Sebastian Velasquez in the midfield. In the back, we might see a number of different fullbacks: trialist Terukazu Tanaka, draft pick Diogo de Almeida, Jamaican trialist Lance Laing, and English/Nigerian trialist Kasali Casal.

In goal, I don't know that we'll see too much of Nick Rimando, as Lalo Fernandez and Kyle Reynish will probably be looked at in a more competitive environment. Nick's a pretty known quantity at this point, and unless he's looking for match fitness, he'll probably sit one or two of these Desert Diamond Cup matches out completely.

From the academy, we've got young midfielder Jordan Allen (perhaps another chance for us to say "Dude, he's only 16 or 17!" I'm not sure which.) and defender Carlos Salcedo. It's always exciting to see academy prospects being handed a bit of a chance, and while Allen's not likely to make the move up to this level yet — he's quite young

Who We Won't See

We already know we won't see a few people: Will Johnson, for one, is off to have surgery. We also won't see Alvaro Saborio, a victim of injury as well, and Nat Borchers, though engaging in some lighter training, probably won't make an appearance either. Further, I don't expect to see Javier Morales after some recent setbacks — I expect the staff will ease him into it rather than drop him into a wholly meaningless match. Everyone else should be in contention of some sort, barring any fresh injuries, but I'd expect some of the veterans will be given a bit longer to heal.

What To Look For

The center back pairing will be particularly interesting to take a look at. In contention, we've got new boy (who I'm not sure has signed a contract) Leone Cruz, academy product Carlos Salcedo, veteran beast Jamison Olave, and the unreasonably tall Chris Schuler. I'd expect Salcedo is starting (as per Grande Sports World on Twitter.)

I'll also look closely at the midfield: Will we continue with the same shape? Have some nuances made their way into Jason's thinking during the off-season? Who could be the heir apparent to the Javier Morales throne? (Hint: I think Luis Gil is less a lock than we think. He can ably play deeper in the diamond, and we could start seeing him there more regularly.) Has Yordany Alvarez learned the system yet? These questions and more might get short answers tonight.

I'd issue out my regular predicted line-up, but I really have no reason behind most of it. But, you know, I might as well, so let's go on with this. I'd also expect to see plenty of subs, so perhaps that's an easy out when I get things terribly, terribly wrong.

Predicted (on shoddy evidence) Lineup

Tanaka - Salcedo - Olave - Laing
Grabavoy - Yordany - Enzo
Bonfigli - Arnoux

Let's hear it for predictions without relevant data (save that one of the center backs, Carlos Salcedo, will apparently start)! 'Til tomorrow. Join me on Twitter for an absolutely rousing (or… not) match commentary as we get back to being upset about the little things.

Come on you Claret and Cobalt!