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Match Preview: Absences precariously position RSL for Philadelphia Union match

Rich Schultz

In case we've all forgotten, there's a match today. As important as it is to have reasoned, calm discussion about the nature of support and the future of support at Real Salt Lake, I, for one, am more excited to talk about this match. So talk we shall.

Absences and Returns

Alvaro Saborio continues in his absence, what with Costa Rica's involvement in the Gold Cup and all, and a trio of players joins him. Kyle Beckerman, Tony Beltran and Nick Rimando all — justifiably, I might add — have been called up to the U.S. national side.

This obviously affects us a bit. Saborio is as important a player as he ever was — but perhaps we're finding ways to cope without him, as we're really doing quite well and we've only seen him in fewer than half of our matches this season. You can thank injuries and international absences for that adaptation, but it's been a little distressing at times.

Kyle Beckerman's departure is even more meaningful, as we have only Yordany Alvarez to fill the void, and it's a particularly massive set of shoes to wear. Alvarez is less of a distributor, less of a tackler, and all around, just simply less than Beckerman. That's fine. We know this. But it's worth thinking about, as it may affect the rest of the midfield. Will Ned Grabavoy perhaps sit a bit deeper as a result? We'll see.

The full back line will take on a bit of a different look with Tony Beltran out; Lovel Palmer will likely shift to the right side, and Chris Wingert is a natural pick to return to the left side. With that move, the more attacking flank could shift to the left side, and perhaps this means Grabavoy and Gil will switch sides or some such motion.

With Nick Rimando out, there's not much discussion necessary — simply an acknowledgement that one of the best American goalkeepers will be absent, and that is something which makes things difficult. Josh Saunders will have his work cut out for him, such are the expectations hoisted on him by playing behind Rimando.

But hey, Luis Gil is back — that's a good thing. The kid had a fantastic tournament for the U.S. U-20s, even if systemic problems with the rest of the side stymied their progress in a very, very difficult group to escape. After putting in good showings against Spain, France and Ghana, Gil should be ready for an MLS match or two. It will be difficult to justify dropping Khari Stephenson, though, as the man has had a good little run.