Midfield battle key in Champs League showdown

RSL's Morales, Beckerman on the spot against Monterrey

MONTERREY, Mexico – Javier Morales believes he knows the secret to Wednesday’s critical match in the Champions League finals: the battle in the midfield.

“I think that’s the key,” the Real Salt Lake playmaker said Tuesday. “The team that wins the battle in the middle has a very good chance.”

That, however, is easier said than done. Monterrey are a lethal team in the final third and will likely put a lot of pressure on the RSL back line whenever they get the ball on Wednesday night (10 pm ET, Fox Soccer, TeleFutura). They’ll look to disrupt RSL’s rhythm as much as they can in order to create their own opportunities.

“They are a very dynamic team,” RSL coach Jason Kreis said. “They don’t stay in one position. They don’t seem to be too tactically bound to a system when they have the ball, and that can create problems for us, as we’ve seen us create problems for our opponents doing the same thing.”

“I think they’re really good in transition,” Kreis added. “I think they’re a team that most of the goal chances that they create, and most of the goals that they score, come when they win the ball and they go quickly at the defense. They get in behind pretty quickly.”

Because of that, midfielder Kyle Beckerman indicated that winning balls will be a key to RSL’s success.

“I think the big thing is if we can win the second balls, and just kind of fight harder than them,” Beckerman said. “When we seem to win the second balls in the midfield and then get going from there we can slice teams apart.

“It’s when we’re not winning those second balls that we seem to struggle as a team,” he added. “If we can win those second balls and then get the ball to [Morales], then we should be good.”