Real Salt Lake is walking into StubHub Center tonight smarting a bit from injuries — but that won't be enough for the team to roll over and accept defeat.
Joao Plata is obviously out after suffering a quad strain in training this week, and Sunny remains a question mark, having been a bit slower in recovery than Jeff Cassar would have hoped.
Perhaps the biggest indicator that this team has progressed from the poorest days of 2015 is that depth has improved wholesale. With Sunny out, RSL has a ready-made replacement in John Stertzer — and while he's not at the same level as Sunny at this point in his career, he's rapidly showing himself to be a capable MLS-level defensive midfielder when he's playing alongside a veteran influence.
Of course, there's no such replacement for Joao Plata, whose influence on the team has been sky-high. But in MLS, there's often no replacing your goal-leading, assist-leading player — it's rare enough that teams have one player that fills both roles capably.
But by the same measure, RSL is ready to replace Plata for a match here or there — Jordan Allen and Olmes Garcia both need minutes, and these matches often present excellent opportunities for just that.
Burrito Martinez and Javier Morales
When the season started, Plata was typically grouped into a triplet with Martinez and Morales; now, the discussion sort of centers around the Ecuadorian striker on his own. But he doesn't exist in a vacuum, and while he's been good without those two, you can't pretend his success is independent of the rest of the team.
Burrito Martinez is a capable goalscorer on his own, and his ability to break down a defense with a sly dribble is too often unheralded. And Javier Morales — what is there to say about Morales that hasn't already been said?
We've heard all the talk in the last week about how thousands of Armenians will be at StubHub to watch Movsisyan, and I wouldn't rule out that thought quickly. He knows the community better than anyone, and the Armenian community in Southern California is surprisingly large.
He'll be given some additional external motivation to succeed, and given his ability to find himself in perfect positions to score — even if he has hit the post a bit too frequently for his own tastes (and ours, to be honest) — there's no reason to expect he'll be anything but ready for this one. Think of this as his homecoming.