Carl's Keys to the Game vs. Real Salt Lake

The legend sets up Saturday's Western Conference tilt

Keys to the Game vs. Real Salt Lake

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USA Today Sports Images

Preview: Whitecaps FC host second-place Real Salt Lake

Tale of two styles

This weekend brings together two Western Conference teams that play two very distinctive styles. Both sides will be desperate to get three points and a big key is which team cam impose themselves on the other and dictate the tempo of the match.

For the most part, Real Salt Lake likes to play a slow tempo game. They build from the back, play through the midfield and use their many creative attacking players to create chances in the final third of the field.

As we have seen with the ‘Caps the last few games, we’ve gotten back to our high tempo style of play by pressuring the opposition, creating turnovers and attacking in numbers when going forward. With this style of play, we’ve earned four points in our last two road games and have been for the most part very successful at home.

Salt Lake will not like playing on the turf and could have one eye on the US Open Cup Final against DC United, which is scheduled to take place on October 1. So Martin Rennie’s side must get the upper hand right from the opening whistle and establish our high-energy game, which not many teams have been able to deal with at BC Place this season.

Beckerman and Morales pick up assists against Portland

Midfield battle

Wining the midfield battle is going to go a long way for the ‘Caps to get three vital points from this match.

Two of Salt Lake’s most dangerous players, Kyle Beckerman and Javier Morales, play in a diamond midfield and are the ones their teammates rely on for much of the build-up. They try to dictate the flow of the game and they look to influence the match in the attacking third with their vision and passing ability.

I feel that Vancouver’s trio in midfield, Gershon Koffie, Nigel Reo-Coker, Jun Marques Davidson, have been very strong and have had good balance the last couple of games. In terms of athleticism, I think they have the advantage over Salt Lake’s midfielders.

But it’s important that we give them no time on the ball and make them chase us when we’re in possession. This is an area where the game can be won or lost.

Last home match: Whitecaps FC 2 - 2 Chivas USA

Home sweet home

It’s been a while since we have played at BC Place  Saturday will be nearly four weeks  and I know the players are chomping at the bit to play in front of a sellout crowd in another game with huge playoff implications.

We're currently four points out of a playoff spot with five matches remaining, while second-place Real Salt Lake are trying to get back on track after consecutive lossses. It's a massive game for both teams. The crowd will be rocking, and we have to take advantage of that.

With a 8W-2L-4D home record, BC Place has become a fortress for us this season and the crowd has truly been the 12th man. Real Salt Lake will not relish playing on the turf or in front of our fans.

The fans are buzzing after a thrilling win in Montreal and are ready to be loud and boisterous. We need to give them something to cheer about.