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Volkswagen Keys to the Match: Real Salt Lake

Saturday's opponent boasts a unique style that will challenge D.C.'s defense

Javier Morales RSL

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With an attractive brand of soccer – and the results to backit up – Real Salt Lake will pose a unique challenge for D.C. United when thetwo sides meet this weekend.  Hereare a few things to look for in Saturday night’s interconference clash. 

BEWARE THE BREAKAWAY

Though there is no official stat that confirms this, RealSalt Lake has to be the MLS league-leader when it comes to producing breakawayopportunities.  There are two mainreasons for this: good midfield passing and exceptional off-the-ball runs.  Kyle Beckerman, Javier Morales and evenNed Grabavoy always look for the home run pass while both Alvaro Saborio – who hassurprising pull-away speed for his size – and Fabian Espindola are experts in making the type ofperfectly-timed run that can burn even a well-organized offsides trap.

MUTING MORALES

The Argentine playmaker is going through a dry spell, andD.C. needs to make sure that continues. Morales hasn’t scored since June 23 and has just two assists over thesame spell.  Though he sometimeslines up as a withdrawn forward, Morales is most dangerous when deployed atopRSL’s midfield diamond.  A savvyveteran, Morales is proficient at finding the pockets of space between centralmidfield and defense – so Perry Kitchen will need to provide another soliddefensive performance.

WINNING THE WING WAR

In Salt Lake’s 4-4-2 formation, the wide midfielders usuallypinch in quite a bit.  This allows RSL’soutside backs to take a much higher initial position than most perimeterdefenders as they try and get up-field to aid the attack.  During a recent match, Dallas tookadvantage of this with both quick passing and efficient counterattacks.  In Chris Pontius and Nick DeLeon, D.C.certainly has the wide speed to challenge both Tony Beltran and Chris Wingert.