For the first time in Real Salt Lake's short history, a former coach is coming up against his former club.
This is largely because RSL original John Ellinger didn't find another head coach job after leaving Real Salt Lake (or rather, was fired from the position) and ended up as an assistant at FC Dallas. RSL's only other coach, Jason Kreis, gets his debut today.
But we've talked about that plenty, haven't we? We've talked about booing, we've talked about how he took two valuable players away (although that was sort of inevitable, given MLS's expansion draft), and I think I've decided it's worth being over it.
So let's get this over with: Three things to watch as Real Salt Lake and New York City FC face each other for the first time.
Chris Wingert at center back
Part of the Real Salt Lake old guard, Chris Wingert was almost always a left back for the club — and when he played at center back, it rarely went quite as well as anybody would have hoped. He was good, sure, but he wasn't exactly RSL's first choice most of the time. With Wingert almost certainly playing center back for New York City FC, watch for RSL's attacking corps to exploit any known weaknesses in his play.
Does Javier Morales return?
We've talked a lot about the potential (and near-certain) return of Joao Plata to the team, but we've talked a bit less about the potential of Javier Morales's return. Now, let's be clear — we don't actually know if he will return. Concussions are a tricky thing, and there's a protocol to follow. So maybe he comes back, but maybe he's kept out — at this point, the lack of talk about it might not be accidental. Is it a tactical thing from Jeff Cassar, or is Morales unlikely to play? We'll find out.
Staving off a desperate side
Does anybody remember what it looked like when Jason Kreis was desperate for a win at Real Salt Lake — particularly after going down a goal? Every bet about how RSL would play went out the window — his midfielders and defenders swung in cross after cross after cross, and Alvaro Saborio was left to battle for all of them. That's a big task when there are more than two defenders in the box. Will we see something similar from him with NYC? Can RSL get that opening goal and find out?