This figures to be the weekend Matias Cordoba finally makes his long-awaited starting debut for Real Salt Lake.
With Andy Williams away for World Cup qualifying with the Jamaican National Team, Cordoba seems to be the most obvious choice to replace Williams in the starting lineup at outside midfielder.
Like virtually every coach in the league, RSL coach Jason Kreis doesn't divulge his starting lineup until game day. Cordoba, however, seems ready for his MLS starting debut, especially after his impressive two-goal, one-assist performance in a reserve game against San Jose two weeks ago.
"He has done basically what we've laid out to all the players on our team, whereby if you train good and you play well in reserve games you'll get your opportunity to come off the bench. And if you do well enough with that, an opportunity may open up to start," said Kreis. "The opportunity is definitely there if we end up choosing him."
If Saturday night's game at Chivas USA is indeed his day, the opportunity has been a long time coming for the much-hyped Argentine. A former member of both Argentinos Juniors and Club Atletico Tigre in the Argentine first division, expectations were extremely high among fans and the team when the 23-year-old Cordoba was brought in this past offseason.
Unfortunately, his fitness was nowhere near what it needed to be when he arrived at training camp, setting him back several months.
Six games into the 2008 season, he finally made his MLS debut as a 90th-minute substitute against the L.A. Galaxy. He's since made three more substitute appearances for RSL, including his most lengthy stint last weekend, when Kreis rewarded him with 20 minutes off the bench against Kansas City. Up until that match, Cordoba's combined time spent on the field in his previous three appearances was 18 minutes.
Fellow RSL midfielder Dema Kovalenko has no qualms with Cordoba getting the nod and effectively doubling his minutes played so far in 2008.
"I think he's ready, he's got to be ready. He's been playing well in reserve games, and that's why I think he's got a chance," said Kovalenko. "It's not going to be an easy game. Chivas is a good team."
Like Williams, Cordoba brings a high technical ability to the game. Kreis said both players are capable of pulling off special plays. This weekend at the Home Depot Center a building where RSL has never been able to beat Chivas USA it might take a special play to pull off the upset.If Kreis opts not to go with Cordoba, rookie Kevin Reiman or RSL veteran Kenny Cutler could get the start instead.
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