Real Salt Lake sits comfortably in 2nd place, not only in the Western Conference standings but in the race for the Supporters Shield as well as they welcome the Vancouver Whitecaps into Rio Tinto. Here are the 3 things that we think you need to watch in this weekends match.
Javier Morales has taken a beating so far this season and slowly but surely, he is on the mend. He played a good part of the second half against the Rapids in last week’s match. With a team that felt disconnected in the midfield third, can Javi’s insertion into the starting lineup be the spark that RSL needs to create more chances to score. The chances have been coming, and RSL has been able capitalize on them. While we are excited to see more goals from RSL, which have not been in short supply this season, is Javi ready to go all 90 minutes. He did not play against SKC and he played a handful of minutes against the Rapids so can he go or will we see Luke Mulholland have the starting role or will we start to develop Jordan Allen into that role by starting him this weekend.
The Claret and Cobalt is the last remaining team to be undefeated in MLS. They put that undefeated streak on the line against the Whitecaps. How can RSL keep that going? They just have to keep playing their game and they can challenge any team that plays them. They have proved that they can go toe-to-toe with anyone. Their backline is starting to click with the insertion of Justen Glad and the pairing in the midfield with Beckerman and Sunny has been the anchor that the defense needed. The front three and Javier Morales have been the most dynamic attack in the League. They have not created as many chances as other teams have so far this season, but they do not need them, they put away the ones they get.
The Plata Era
MLS’s player of the month for March is Joao Plata. He is getting the league-wide attention that he deserves. We have always known this fact. There have been many era’s in RSL history, but we are starting to see Joao Plata take over. RSL has scored nine goals in the first five matches, and out of those, he has either scored or assisted on seven of them. His unparalleled dominance on the offensive side of the ball is why RSL has been able to stay undefeated. He can create chaos in the back line, which was apparent from his goal against the Rapids. He pressures the defenders to make a mistake and has been deadly and finishing the chances that he gets. Real Salt Lake has, arguably, the best forward in Joao Plata.
Real Salt Lake will put their unbeaten streak on the line against the Whitecaps, but if the defense stays in form and the front three put away their chances, RSL can get another 3 big points at home.