This is it. With all due respect to Mexico’s Liga MX, this is North America’s premier association football cup final. It’s MLS Cup 2013, from Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kan. on Dec. 7. The match pits the best team standing from the MLS Eastern Conference against the best team left standing from the MLS Western Conference.
On one hand you have the hosts, Peter Vermes’s Sporting Kansas City, who claim series victories over the New England Revolution and the Houston Dynamo after a 17-10-7 record (58 points). On the other side, you have Jason Kreis’s Real Salt Lake, who skated by the Los Angeles Galaxy before running it up on the Portland Timbers to get to this point in the season.
But only one can win the crown of the best team in Major League Soccer. Who is going to take it and punch their ticket in the 2014-15 CONCACAF Champions League? These Bold Predictions on the View from Avalon may have the answer.
Kickoff is scheduled for 2 p.m. MT/3 p.m. CT/4 p.m. ET and will be televised by ESPN and ESPN Deportes. The match will also be broadcast worldwide by BT Sport 1. Here are 10 Bold Predictions for MLS Cup 2013 between Sporting Kansas City and Real Salt Lake.
1. Goals, goals, goals!
We’re going to see plenty of scoring this time around. Both sides are itching for their second start. For Sporting, they’re looking for their first title since 2000 and as for RSL, they’re aiming for their first star since 2009. At least four goals will be scores this contest.
2. A tense first 15 minutes
But despite all of goal scoring and wide-open play, the match will start with both teams sizing each other up. There will be no goals scored in the first 15 minutes of MLS Cup 2013.
3. Jimmy Nielsen with at least four saves
MLS Cup 2013 is a chance for Danish goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen to shine for the hosts against RSL. In the regular season, Nielsen recorded 68 saves for Sporting Kansas City and on Saturday, despite giving up some goals, he will make at least four saves to keep his fellow sky blues in the hunt.
4. Nick Rimando with at least five saves
Nielsen’s counterpart, Nick Rimando, is no slouch either. This regular season, Rimando recorded 82 saves and has shown great leadership in the box. Against Sporting Kansas City in MLS Cup 2013, Rimando will make at least five saves.
5. Javier Morales with a goal and an assist
Javier Morales is Real Salt Lake’s swingman and with Alvaro Saborio nursing an injury, his role becomes that much bigger. In the regular season, Morales recorded eight goals and 10 assists. Look for Javier Morales to finish the season with a goal and assist against the hosts from Sporting Kansas City.
6. Look out! It’s Chris Schuler!
Sure, Chris Schuler didn’t score a goal in the second leg of the 2013 MLS Western Conference Final against the Portland Timbers, but he can finish when he has the opportunity. Schuler will score in the second half against Sporting.
7. Robbie Findley leaves an impression
Also hitting his stride this season is Robbie Findley, who scored six goals in the regular season for Real Salt Lake. Findley did score in MLS Cup 2009 against Los Angeles and he’ll score again on Saturday.
8. Claudio Bieler will score for Sporting
The prospects for Sporting Kansas City will hinge on whether or not Claudio Bieler gets the nod to start. In 2013, Bieler scored 10 goals while recording four assists. Bieler will get on the score sheet on Saturday but it will probably not be enough.
9. At least 35 fouls and five cards
Hilario Grajeda will be the referee for MLS Cup 2013, and he is going to have a field day issuing cards and calling fouls. Grajeda will call at least 35 fouls and issue at least five cards of any color. Hey, it’s the last game of the season, readers. Might as well see both teams pull all the stops.
10. Real Salt Lake will win MLS Cup 2013
A lot of pundits are calling this a coronation for Sporting Kansas City. That puts a lot of pressure off Real Salt Lake. If you look at how they dismantled the Portland Timbers and also came through in the clutch against the Galaxy in the second leg of the 2013 MLS Western Conference Semifinals, you can’t help but wonder which team has the better offense.
This will be a cup final full of offense. Great defending will come at a premium. The View from Avalon believes that if you can beat the Los Angeles Galaxy, you will most likely win MLS Cup. Real Salt Lake is a team on a mission, and they are going to successfully invade Sporting Park and win the Philip F. Anschutz Trophy.
Real Salt Lake 3, Sporting Kansas City 1