Soccer  > General Soccer  > Roster juggling may pay off for Salt Lake
September 28, 2010, 11:19 AM
A third straight week of Champions League play has coaches testing their roster management skills, and Jason Kreis is hoping his maneuvers will bear quarterfinal fruit.

Real Salt Lake will play its seventh match in 25 days when it travels to Toronto on Tuesday, and Kreis is hoping he's managed his squad well enough to get at least a draw and clinch its place in the knockout round.

"We're going to put all of our cards on the table for [the Toronto game]," Kreis said. "We feel like that's the one that we have to get a result in, and wrap up this Champions League stuff so that we can then turn our attention back to the Supporters' Shield and the playoffs."

Salt Lake sits atop Group A with nine points, two better than Cruz Azul and five better than Toronto. Arabe Unido is last with three. RSL also has the second best record in Major League Soccer, extending its unbeaten streak to 10 with a 1-1 draw at home against Colorado on Saturday.

Cruz Azul also can clinch its third straight quarterfinal berth with a win or a draw against Arabe Unido, and a loss by Toronto.

Kreis has juggled his roster between MLS and CCL matches, trying to advance to the confederation tournament knockout phase while also trying to finish atop the U.S. league with the best record - thus ensuring a home-field advantage in the playoffs.

Against Arabe Unido last week, he rested Andy Williams, Nat Borchers and Chris Wingert, and used them against Colorado. But in that game, Kreis sat regulars Nick Rimando, Kyle Beckerman, Jamison Olave, Will Johnson and Alvaro Saborio with plans to untilize them aganst Toronto.

Toronto interim head coach Nick Dasovic tried something similar against San Jose on Saturday, resting several regulars, but lost 3-2 at home to San Jose to leave it seven points out of the last MLS playoff berth with four games to play. Three points behind Cruz Azul for the last CCL quarterfinal berth, it needs a win against RSL and some help from Arabe Unido.

"We got a big competition on Tuesday where if we can get a result, the right result, we put ourselves in a great chance to get to that quarterfinal stage," Dasovic said. "But we have two competitions, MLS and CONCACAF, we'll work towards each one and see how things go."

Toronto has one advantage. Having beaten Cruz Azul at home and held it to a draw in Mexico City, if the Reds can finish equal on points with Los Azulinos, they would advance based on head-to-head results.

Cruz Azul enters its game with Arabe Unido with the best record in the Mexican Apertura, but in the midst of a two-game winless mini-slump in all competitions. It lost 2-1 to Necaxa on Friday, three days after a 0-0 draw against Toronto.

It won 6-0 in Panama City last month against Arabe Unido, which is winless in its last six matches, including four losses.

Arabe Unido has fallen to fourth in the Panamanian league, winless in four games. It will need victories in both of its remaining games - at Cruz Azul and at Toronto - and a help from Salt Lake to return to the quarterfinals.

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