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Maund, Olave likely to start as center back pairing against Tigres

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Real Salt Lake hasn't signed a center back in 2016, and that means we know who will probably start against Tigres.

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

When Real Salt Lake faces Tigres on Wednesday, it'll be without a center back signing that the club has been itching to get done since November.

That's because the Jerry Akaminko signing fell through over the weekend for reasons unbeknownst to us, and it leaves us in a delicate position against a very, very good team.

No matter who plays, it won't be a walk in the park, but early indications look like we're going to see Aaron Maund and Jamison Olave paired together. This is not necessarily the worst thing that could happen, but it's certainly not the best. Why, you ask? To really tell you, we'll have to talk about their partnership, as well as the other partnerships we have available to us.

Maund and Olave

This is our first-choice partnership right now, if simply because these are our two most experienced center backs. Yes, one of them hasn't hit 50 professional matches yet. Yes, this is probably not preferable for a match of this magnitude.

This isn't to call Aaron Maund a bad center back. He's not. Neither is Jamison Olave. However, neither of them presents a good counterpart to the other: Instead, both are brawny, physical defenders who sometimes get caught out of position.

This will be the sternest test the two have faced together, if they do start together. One of them absolutely must adopt a more communicative role for this, and neither of them is a natural choice.

But who knows? This could be a renaissance for Aaron Maund, who had a good-but-not-great year in 2015. He simply has to embrace the challenges — but maybe he is more cerebral than anyone's given him credit.

It could also be a rebirth for Jamison Olave, who is, himself, a very good center back. If he can recapture some of the dominance of years gone by, he might just find himself catching a wave of good form just at the right time.

But there's one more option that be slotted in, isn't there?

Justen Glad

That's right. Glad, still objectively a youngster, does fit the 'cerebral' bill. He's clearly extraordinarily talented, and he's a smart defender. But he's young.

And when we say he's young, that's to say that he won't be turning 19 until after the first leg of this one. And given what we know about young players, that's a risk. Young players are very often more error-prone, and that's because they haven't seen what seasoned professionals have on a weekly basis.

That's the only real mark against Glad, who certainly has been part of discussions ahead of the match, even if it's unlikely he plays.

Should he play, though? That's a bigger question, and while I'd love to say the he should, just imagine him squaring up against goalscorer extraordinaire Andres Gignac. That sounds like a terrifying prospect, no? And there are other fine players at Tigres he'd have to cope with, but that's certainly the biggest target.

Who to expect

As above, don't expect anybody other than Aaron Maund and Jamison Olave to start this match at center back. On the face of the 2015 debacle, we may need a minor miracle to come out of this one in a respectable position. But by the same token, 2016 is in the past, and we'll have to start our evaluations anew. Here's hoping both of these two center backs start brightly.