Real Salt Lake know they need to keep Cuauhtemoc Blanco quiet if they're to defeat Chicago Fire in the Eastern Conference championship. This will be the first time all season that RSL has faced the Fire with Blanco in the lineup. He sat out during both regular season meetings. With him on the field, it could change the complexion of the game. Blanco's style of play forces a defense to be aware of where he is at all times.
"He's one of those guys who shows up in different spots on the field," defender Nat Borchers said. "That's why he's so difficult to mark. He plays balls that are dangerous, that make defensive lines have to drop. Our job against him is being able to recognize where he is and to make sure he doesn't create any chances."
That does not mean that Salt Lake will take the step of assigning a specific player to mark Blanco. To defend him, RSL coach Jason Kreis wants multiple players to be aware of his tendencies and think ahead to keep him from setting up any dangerous counterattacks or slipping into a seam to get an open look at the net.
"We got to be aware of where he is, even when we have the ball," Kreis told mlsnet.com. "We're going to have one or two players mindful of the spaces he floats into -- such that when it turns over, we can get close to him and close to him quickly."