SANDY — Lost amid the uproar surrounding the red card that put Real Salt Lake a man down against New England on Monday was its impact on the next game.
By virtue of his first ejection in an RSL uniform, Nat Borchers will be forced to sit out this Saturday's massive match at Rio Tinto Stadium against red-hot FC Dallas.
Dallas has won three straight and has vaulted to the front of the MLS Supporters Shield conversation. Even though Los Angeles has a slight edge over Dallas, 36 points to 34 points in the standings, Dallas has played two less games and leads in points per game at 1.89. Los Angeles is second at 1.80 ppg, while Real Salt Lake is third at 1.69 ppg.
This weekend's match marks the exact midway point of the Major League Soccer season for Real Salt Lake, and securing the full three points is a must in the race for the Supporters Shield. It will have to do so without Borchers, who according to the Castrol Index has been RSL's most efficient player this year.
The Castrol Index is the official performance index of MLS. It uses the latest technology to track the movements of every player on the field and then objectively analyzes whether it had a positive or negative impact on a team's ability to score or concede a goal.
Ten is the highest index score possible, and Borchers ranks third in MLS at 9.22, trailing only New York's Thierry Henry (9.33) and Dallas' George John (9.27).
Here's a look at where RSL's top 10 players rank in the overall index midway through the season: Jamison Olave (14), Tony Beltran (32), Chris Wingert (52), Nick Rimando (53), Ned Grabavoy (54), Kyle Beckerman (67), Will Johnson (108), Fabian Espindola (174) and Andy Williams (201).
RSL TO HOST?: Three days after RSL and Dallas meet in a league game at Rio Tinto Stadium this Saturday, they'll meet at Pizza Hut Park in Texas in a U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal match.
It was announced on Wednesday that if RSL wins, it would host the Los Angeles/Seattle winner in the Open Cup semifinals on Aug. 30. Teams must bid to host games in the U.S. Open Cup, and most just assumed that RSL would get outbid by Los Angeles and Seattle.
Real Salt Lake is clearly putting its money where its mouth is about taking the U.S. Open Cup seriously this time around. First, however, it must overcome a brutal history in Dallas, with an all-time record of 0-9-1 in league and playoff games.2 comments on this story
INTERESTING THOUGHTS: Following Monday's 3-3 draw, RSL owner Dave Checketts — who was in attendance because of the Jason Kreis jersey retirement — called the ESPN700 postgame show to weigh in on the match and the officiating.
He had some pretty interesting thoughts about how things like that can be avoided in the future.
"I think we should do our best in American soccer and in Major League Soccer to make sure we're doing the things that would make the game more fair and interesting. The NFL, the NBA, the NHL have all included replay review in various forms. It makes it so the calls get made right, and we don't have that in this sport, and I have been screaming about it frankly for the last couple of years," said Checketts.