I didn't stay up to finish last night's LA Galaxy-Houston game and somehow I'll stay awake tonight as the New England Revolution travel to Utah to play Real Salt Lake.
Last year the Revs put four goals past backup keeper Jeff Antinella (who was stellar) en route to a 4-0 thrashing, but RSL has beaten the Revs 2-1 in the three previous games prior to that blowout. RSL is sitting pretty solidly in the Western Conference playoff race and have a stellar home record. Can the Revs secure a result on the road? We chatted with RSL Soapbox's Matt Montgomery about tonight's game, and don't forget to visit their site to check out my answers to Matt's questions.
TBM: The top four teams in the West are all unbeaten at home, the East is generally miserable on the road...any ideas why the West seems so much better than the East this year?
Sometimes, I wonder if that's just an illusion — after all, Real Salt Lake has had trouble beating Eastern Conference opponents in recent weeks, and maybe we're in some weird nebulous state out here in the West. But if I think about it more, all that goes away. So, really, I have no idea. From my perspective, it's seemed like the West has been better than the East for many years running. Every year, it feels like we're handed the "If we were in the Eastern Conference, we'd be in first place" line as if it's justification for poor form. I don't know if that means anything, but whether statistics like that matter or not, there's a superiority complex about the West that can't be beat.
TBM: RSL is winless in four and only has one win in six game, is this a summer swoon, tough schedule, bit of both?
It's not a tough schedule, that's for sure. We've had an overwhelmingly home-packed schedule, and we had a Copa America break with which we could have recharged. Instead, we've come out sputtering. Maybe it's a summer swoon — it feels like we have those on an annual basis. But whatever it is, it's truly annoying — we can put out one of the best XIs in the league when we have 7 or 8 of our genuine starters. We're clearly built for MLS. But by the same token, past those, say, 14 or 15 players that we can trust on any given matchday, we have only 24 players rostered. We're thin, and that's biting us right now.
TBM: It seems like most of the offense runs through the attacking line of Yura Movsisyan, Juan Manuel "Burrito" Martinez and Joao Plata. Describe this trio when they're playing well and what goes wrong when they aren't.
When these three are playing well, we have arguably the most exciting attacking group in the league, especially if you extend considerations to Javier Morales. Attacking options flow from left to right then back again, and Movsisyan is at the fore of it all, pushing defenders into more and more uncomfortable scenarios. When it works well, RSL scores a couple goals. Yes, a couple — we haven't shown any of the ruthlessness you'd want to see from an immense attacking team. We haven't truly put any teams to bed in 2016. It's hurt us over and over.
When they're playing badly — and that's rare at this point, because I'd posit our best is not our potential best — they don't create much in the way of attacking options. At this point, we've seen one or two of those three or four have a poor game at the same time, but for the most part, we're actually doing quite well.