With Real Salt Lake focused exclusively on getting a result against Saprissa in the CONCACAF Champions League tonight, it's easy to forget that the MLS regular season gets under way this week as well. In fact, for two teams the season kicks off tonight with Seattle hosting the L.A. Galaxy.
The Galaxy-Sounders match kicks off at 7:30 p.m., 30 minutes before the ball drops at Rio Tinto Stadium. Both are must-see TV, so don't forget to set your DVR before heading out tonight.
Real Salt Lake dives into league play this Saturday at San Jose, and expectations are sky high for the upcoming season. Soccer writers around the country have weighed in with their predictions this week, and many are tagging RSL as the team to beat in the West and the whole league.
The Sports Illustrated staff made its MLS predictions on Monday, with one of four writers picking Real Salt Lake to win the MLS Cup, while another believes Alvaro Saborio has what it takes to win the league MVP.
Sports Illustrated's Steve Davis dives deeper into his predictions with the Western Conference preview, and he's clearly a big believer in RSL's potential.
There's a great story on SB Nation discussing 18 story lines that will define the 2011 MLS season, and not surprisingly RSL tops the list of contenders heading into the season.
The consensus around the country is that either Real Salt Lake, Los Angeles or New York will win the MLS Supporter's Shield this year. Fans won't have to wait long to see two of the teams square off as RSL hosts the Galaxy on Saturday, April 26.
It's part of what could be an epic first month for Real Salt Lake tries to become the first MLS team to win the Champions League.
RSL Soapbox, one of the best blogs in the business, recently posted a fantastic preview of tonight's match in which it goes into incredible detail about the potential nuances of the match. If his 4-2 prediction pans out, fans are in for one heck of a match tonight.
Soccer America has a nice analysis of tonight's match as well.
Regardless of how the first leg plays out, RSL coach Jason Kreis and his players have stressed all week that the series can't be won or lost tonight. Most agree, however, that Real Salt Lake needs to secure the full three points at home because getting a result in Costa Rica might be the biggest challenge the club has ever faced.