Real Salt Lake will have to face Colorado Rapids on Sunday without two of their most important players in the pantheon of RSL rivalry legends, with Kyle Beckerman and Nick Rimando both absent through international duty.
It's a match that kicks off a long home stand — six of the next eight matches for the team are at Rio Tinto Stadium — but this one will take some concentrated effort for the team to really capitalize on the potential momentum.
But Beckerman and Rimando are not the only two who will be absent for this one: Jordan Allen is still with the U.S. under-20 team at the U-20 World Cup in New Zealand, and Boyd Okwuonu is continuing with the U.S. U-23s at the Toulon Tournament.
Key player replacements
Nobody can really step into the shoes of Beckerman and Rimando, but there can be similar replacements in the match for them.
For Nick Rimando, Jeff Attinella is almost certain to play, but an ankle injury that's given Lalo Fernandez a bench spot might mean he doesn't start — but it's hard to say definitively. If Attinella isn't ready, expect him to at least be on the bench behind Lalo Fernandez, who has never played an MLS match.
For Kyle Beckerman, expect either Pecka or John Stertzer in his stead; neither of the two are a real like-for-like replacement, but both can ably play a defensive midfield position. Pecka has seen his first start for Real Salt Lake, while Stertzer has been steadily impressing for the team. Still, depending on how Jeff Cassar frames the lineup, both could see starting roles.
Beckerman is undoubtedly the more difficult player to replace; while Attinella has shown very well against MLS opponents and will be a good option without Rimando, there are few players who can operate with the same kind of biting finesse that defines the captain's game.
Attinella; Beltran, Vasquez, Olave, Mansally; Pecka, Mulholland, Morales; Plata, Saborio, Jaime
Bench: Fernandez, Maund, Phillips, Glad, Gil, Garcia, Sandoval
How to watch
While this match was originally scheduled to broadcast on ESPNews, it's since been moved to ESPN2. It'll broadcast at 3 p.m. MDT.