The Western Conference preview conference call is just starting and I'm on it. I've got a story I'm writing on it for SI.com later this week. New Yorks' Juan Carlos Osorio and Juan Pablo Angel are on the call and I've got some questions for them. The RSL call is scheduled for noon.
I'll be updating this as it continues.
Juan Pablo Angel is on alone at the start. His overall thoughts...
"We're very excited for the game we're going to play at Salt Lake this weekend. It's been a kind of a roller coaster for us... We have beaten the best team we've played in the defending champions. Nobody expected us to do that... We know that we have a very tough task ahead but we're really looking forward to it."
Mediator opens up the floor.
Well I was up first and I wasn't expecting to be up first. Juan Pablo didn't really answer my question directly but I might be able to salvage some of what he said at the end.
Another question comes in, this one about confidence.
"We've been inconsistent... so when you lose a couple of games your confidence goes down... that's been the story this season. We haven't been able to perform consistently all year... Right now for obvious reasons we're very confident because we beat the best team in the league. that doesn't mean that just because we beat Houston we will beat Real Salt Lake... We have to do what we've done, compete really hard, be together. Who knows what happens? We know that we'll have confidence going to Salt Lake."
Now a question about Dane Richards.
"Dane started the year injured, then started to play and was injured again... We know what he brings to this team. He has speed which is a great weapon on any team in the world... His performance this past weekend was phenomenal. We were delighted for him because it will give him a great deal of confidence this weekend... He's reached his form when it really matters, in the playoffs. I'm sure he's full of confidence and he's looking forward to this weekend."
Mediator asks Juan Pablo one final question, about Rio Tinto:
"It's a beautiful soccer stadium. The atmosphere was great. We would expect the same thing, a very hostile environment... but as soccer players that's what you are looking for, a full house."
We're waiting for Juan Carlos Osorio... hanging tight.... reminder the match is at 6 pm PT.
Finally he's here.
First, some general thoughts.
"(RSL) are very good going forward. They have two fullbacks who can get crosses in. They have Beckerman and the experience of the goalkeeper. The two central defenders do a good job. From the middle forward that's the main threat - Johnson, Andy Williams, Clint, Dema, Movsisyan, Findley. They have different options there to choose from. They will be a very difficult team to play against and we'll have to be in our best form to have a chance."
Okay, now they open it up to the floor. First question about adversity this year. How have you been able to avoid getting off track?
"When you have so much adversity like we have had this season, the key was to get results without those players... Although we had our ups and downs, we managed to get enough points to be the eighth-best team in this league. Through our campaign, we feel very good with the fact that we gave every player at least 10 games this season... We are benefiting from that as a matter of fact because those guys have matured."
Follow-up about Yura and his thoughts on him.
"I pointed him out about three months (ago) when he wasn't getting much playing time... I said he was a very good forward with a lot of ability and now it seems like a lot of people have changed their opinion of him."
Next question about John Wolyniec and Sinisa Ubiparipovic and Luke Sassano.
"Every day different small-sided games, different types of possession to involve all the players to keep them on form. With opportunities they've done the best of their opportunities... those three players in particular... i didnt' hesitate to put them back in the lineup when needed. Luke his distribution, his committment, Sinisa his ability to see the final pass and execute it, John the work rate he puts into every game. With a little bit more luck he could probably finish a few more chances and he could be a very effective player."
Okay, just got done with my quick QnA with Osorio. It went well. I broke it down with JC in Spanish and made the translator work. Ponte a trabajar, flojo!
Question from a Salt Lake scribe about Salt Lake's lineup and tactics.
"The way they arrange the middle of the field, very creative players and they have the ability to counterattack quickly. We have to be prepared. We have pointed out how they have started the attack. If we want to have a chance we have to be very proactive in our defending and how we can contain them."
Last question about the regular-season finale and what they felt after that game.
"For different reasons it seems like there were four games during the season that they were. we allowed them too much space, too much time on the ball and when you do that against teams like CHicago, DC, COlumbus and even when we played away to Colorado you are asking for trouble. We corrected that. We got back to the basics.... As long as we have that approach then I think offensively we have enough to create chances and score goals and we proved that throughout the season. I hope we can do that on Saturday."
And that's that.