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Match Preview: Absences leave RSL in precarious position against NYRB


Real Salt Lake heads into today's match preparing to face one of MLS's more daunting Eastern Conference sides -- as well as three players with whom most of the squad will be particularly familiar.

New York Red Bulls have been in a bit of mixed form as of late, but a sense remains that they're very good at home and capable of beating Real Salt Lake under normal conditions.

But with Jason Kreis's squad hit by the injury and international absence bugs, the thinking in New York might be a bit more upbeat.

Kyle Beckerman, Tony Beltran, and Nick Rimando are all away with Gold Cup duty, having just made the 2013 final, which will take place Sunday. Alvaro Saborio, however, returns to the club, with Costa Rica having lost out in the quarterfinal round.

Josh Saunders, Kwame Watson-Siriboe and Chris Schuler are all out with injuries, and Chris Wingert is out with a two-game suspension following an unnecessary challenge 15 seconds into a 2-1 loss against Sporting Kansas City.

This leaves a probable lineup looking something like this: Attinella; Palmer, Salcedo, Borchers, Mansally; Alvarez, Gil, Grabavoy, Morales; Findley, Saborio -- certainly not the worst of lineups, but the back line against the likes of Thierry Henry, Tim Cahill and, yes, even Fabian Espindola? It gives pause for thought.

On the other side of the aisle, three former Real Salt Lake players could see their first matches against the club they called home.

Fabian Espindola and Jamison Olave both featured very heavily for Real Salt Lake in what might best be described as the "Kreis Era," with the two being among the South American players to join the club and truly make it. Espindola's road was a bit more tenuous than Olave's, but the two became household names in swathes of Salt Lake City. Both were sent to New York for allocation money during the interim between the 2012 and 2013 seasons.

The remaining former RSL player, Jonny Steele, featured significantly last season but was never quite a good fit at the club from a tactical perspective, and despite his propensity for the glamorous long ball, he never did find his feet after a good start to the season.