For Real Salt Lake to make a run at the MLS Cup two key factors will come into play.
First, the physical play of Sporting Kansas City will be a factor if the referee allows the hard play of SKC to go without whistles. In most final games, the officials tend to swallow their whistle which will give an advantage to SKC as they tend to out physical their opponent. Sporting KC was called for more fouls than any other club in Major League Soccer this year. RSL on the other hand uses ball control and possession to their advantage. Persistent infringement on RSL midfielders like Javier Morales are greatly affected by hard play. For much of the last few year Morales has see the Hack-a-Javi approach to keeping him off the ball or making the spectacular pass. I believe we will know within the first 10 to 15 minutes of the match what type of play will be allowed by the officials. Hard play will be advantage Sporting KC.
Second, the midfield as in most games will be a big factor. RSL uses the midfield as mentioned previously to control the ball and patiently waiting for opportunities. Many detractors of Alvaro Saborio are crazed by what they perceived lack of effort. This is really a part of the RSL game plan and he does what Coach Jason Kries is asking of him. Wait for opportunity created by the midfield and score. Saborio will be in the lineup to score. Unlike Findley, Gil or Sandoval, Sabo waits for the ball to come to him and uses his uncanny ability to just score. Many players lack the special gift of being able to find the back of the net. The midfield and wings are part of the persist and control method of setting up plays for those that can score. Devon Sandoval, Alvaro Saborio and Nat Borchers have incredible skills with their head and will be called upon the put the ball on frame one corner kicks. The cold weather could be a factor as noted in the article 48 Hours. Field conditions, the ball, and headers could all affect strikes. Controlling the ball and waiting for opportunity will minimize the impact of the cold weather.
Prediction: I predict the winner of the match to be the team that can control the ball and counter the physical nature of the other team. RSL leads the league in Red Cards. I believe the referee will allow the physical play of and advantage to SKC in that regard. Jason Kreis is an extremely talented coach and will have a game plan around the physical nature of SKC. I predict a controlled second have and a tie at regulation either 0-0 or 1-1. No score in the extra time and the final decided on penalty kicks. Advantage RSL and Nick Rimando. Win RSL on PK’s