Real Salt Lake will be out a host of players as they take on Sporting Kansas City on Saturday, but that shouldn't make this match a foregone conclusion.
Aside from the fact that there's absolutely no fun in being a fan and being upset all the time, we'd like to think RSL does stand a chance. That's in spite of missing three starters with red card suspensions, and it's in spite of SKC winning their three games so far. We'd still like to think not all hope is lost.
They're not without absences, either
Roger Espinoza will be out for SKC on Saturday, and while our memories of him as a destroyer are all-too palpable, he's also a skilled player who covers a lot of ground for his team. He received a red card in this match against Toronto, but check out his touches here, with defense on the left and attack on the right.
That's the sign of a player who is involved in all stages of the game, and he sort of dominates the middle third. He'll be gone, and that doesn't help SKC. Of course, Soni Mustivar had a few more touches (three, in fact), and he won't be absent.
Still, it's something to consider.
The question RSL has to answer: Can RSL's revised midfield keep up without Kyle Beckerman? Coincidentally, that's the same question SKC has to answer. Maybe this one's a wash.
Justen Glad's not bad
Strangely, only a week after some people clamored for Jamison Olave to be benched (or something in that vein), there's a degree of panic about the sheer number of RSL's substitutions. While I remain a strong believer in Olave's quality for this team and think he's been a good (not great) center back this year, Justen Glad deserves a chance to show what he can do alongside a much-improved Aaron Maund.
We fully expect Glad to start, barring injury, so any snark here about "Cassar won't play him" should probably be checked at the door — especially considering that at 18, he started six games for RSL in 2015.
Sure, Real Salt Lake hasn't been a great counterattacking team in years past. But 2016 is already proving a bit different, and you need only look at where SKC lost the ball last match to see why that's meaningful. Of course, you never want to lose the ball in the center of the pitch, and they avoided that — but just think about Joao Plata, Olmes Garcia (if he's not injured), and Yura Movsisyan leading an attack from the flanks.
Again, this is going from left to right. Those losses of possession in the attacking half, as well as on their right attacking side, are just the sort of thing we need to retain a little positivity about this match.