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RSL's international absences force minor tactical shifts

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With four players absent through international injury, Real Salt Lake will be forced to play a little differently than they might otherwise. How will they cope without the likes of Nick Rimando, Luis Gil, and Alvaro Saborio?

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Nick Rimando has perhaps the smallest outright tactical impact with his absence, but that's not to say he doesn't have any impact in that regard. His ability to receive a back pass in tight conditions, turn, and make an immediate pass to a defender on the opposite side is important, and it's sometimes difficult to realize that. That's not to say that Jeff Attinella is bad at this, by any means, which is why that tactical impact through absence is diminished.

Elias Vasquez doesn't have an immediate tactical impact by departing for international duty, but it's one that could be bigger potentially — should injury be a concern for either Jamison Olave or Chris Schuler, we'd be in a position where we'd play Aaron Maund or Phanuel Kavita.

Luis Gil will be away with the U-23s, and although there's a clear sense that he's still yet to find his best for Real Salt Lake in the first two matches, he's making a distinct transformation into a better linking player. It's not an overnight thing, but this does stall that slightly — but only to give him more experience at an international level. Tactically, his absence isn't the most impactful thing, if just because he's still finding his feet in the new formation a bit. His obvious replacement, Luke Mulholland, is a little more box-to-box and a little more hard-tackling.

Alvaro Saborio is the biggest tactical absence, especially because it opens up a number of questions about how we play without him. Devon Sandoval is a hold-up striker, but he's not really in the mold of Saborio — he's a bit more focused on his movement, on his harrying defenders, and less so on being a true target man. We could talk about that one in more detail, and we probably will. It's hard to describe but easier to illustrate — but just think about the areas Sandoval moves into and how that differs from Saborio.