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RSL could play identical lineup in third consecutive game for first time since 2012

Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

If Real Salt Lake makes no lineup changes in Saturday's match against Montreal Impact, it could be the first time since the start of 2012 that the team has gone more than two matches with the same lineup.

It's not the most meaningful statistic, but it's something interesting nonetheless: Real Salt Lake has been unable (or unwilling, in many cases) to field the same lineup for three matches in a row. And with Jordan Allen definitely departing after Saturday's match for FIFA U-20 World cup action, it will be the last chance for, well, at least four matches from now.

Consistency of lineup is not something we can necessarily correlate to results, and in any case, most teams are making fairly significant lineup changes regularly.

Most changes per match: Montreal Impact, 5. This one's not even close, and it's hardly fair, because the Impact have had CCL to deal with, and they've only played five matches. New York City FC are in second place in that regard, with 3.22 changes per match. LA Galaxy is close, with 3.1 changes per match.

Least changes per match: Portland Timbers, 1.11. DC United isn't too far off, with an average of 1.44 changes per match.

Most changes from one match to another: This one's not really fair — again, it's Montreal Impact, with six changes from their second to third matches. That's CCL for you.

Most changes made from one match to another since 2012: Well, wouldn't you just know it — it's Real Salt Lake for this one in 2013. Before that US Open Cup final, Jason Kreis deployed a completely and utterly different lineup than he typically played. We all know how that turned out.

Most matches with an unchanged lineup since 2012: In 2012 and 2013, Sporting Kansas City played with the same lineup for five matches. And why change? They went on a seven-game winning streak to start the season in 2012

So the big question remains: What does it matter if Real Salt Lake keeps the same lineup three matches in a row? The answer is less about the statistical oddity of it all and more about how much better the team has looked in this setup.

But will it play out as well as we'd hope? It's hard to say, obviously. Lineup changes don't really make the game, but maybe they do have more of an influence than a surface one.

I guess the real point is that as much as we can discern from statistics, it's just as much about coaching decisions and how that impacts considerations. It's tough to suss out where exactly we find meaning.

Regardless, I think we're all hoping — at least this week — for an unchanged lineup, knowing that Sebastian Jaime, Javier Morales, and Joao Plata will all be absent.