Ahead of Saturday's match with Real Salt Lake, we've asked three questions of SB Nation RSL blogger Matt Montgomery. He gives us some prospective of the former Salt Lake players doing well in New York, the success of Luis Gil, and whether he thinks the club has been lucky. My answers to his questions can be found over on RSL Soapbox.
1) What niche is Luis Gil filling that he's been able to contribute to the team so quickly?
RSL Soap: Luis Gil has, in essence, been part of a renewed tactical approach to Real Salt Lake's midfield, and as such, his niche is actually fairly broad. When starting alongside Morales, Beckerman and Grabavoy, Gil plays perhaps slightly higher than Grabavoy but serves essentially the same role. More or less, he's aiming to be an incisive box-to-box player, and although he's young, he's been training for that spot for three years now. It's not necessarily that he's contributed to the team quickly, but that he's been patient and the time for him to really step up has come. We'll see if he can do that.
2) New York is getting good contributions from former Real Salt Lake players. How has RSL moved on from those guys?
RSL Soap: This one had to come up, right? Steele, Espindola and Olave have looked good for New York. That's a little painful, though each in different regards. Espindola hurts because we're in situation now where our strikers are still learning how best to fit into the system, and nobody's come up a clear fit yet. Olave's painful because he's already scored as many goals for New York as he did for us in any given season. Steele's painful - well, he's a bit less painful. We're moving on, though, because despite that desire to have Espindola and Olave the goalscorers doing so for us, our future is at the very least more promising than it otherwise would have been.
3) It's early, but a Pythagorean look at RSL would suggest fewer points than they've managed with less than a goal per match. Is lady luck just on Salt Lake's side this year?
RSL Soap: I struggle to attribute anything about our season thus far to luck. It's early, and five of our first seven matches were on the road, and in spite of that, we've fared reasonably well. There'll be time to look at some expected statistical algorithms later on, but I don't know how much there really is to say about expected results - statistically, at least - quite yet.
Bonus Question: Expected lineup and match prediction?
RSL Soap: Rimando; Beltran, Borchers, Schuler, Wingert; Alvarez, Grabavoy, Velasquez, Morales; Saborio, Garcia
Prediction? Ack. 3-1, Real Salt Lake. I've now cursed us. Borchers, Grabavoy and Saborio with the goals.