For the first time this season, RSL will face off against Western Conference contenders FC Dallas. They’ll play in the sweltering heat and humidity just three days after RSL’s 2-1 win at home against the Red Bulls.
Battle toward the top
FC Dallas (8-5-4, 28 points) and Real Salt Lake (8-4-3, 27 points) sit in the number one and number two spots in the table, respectively, just behind the league-leading Colorado Rapids.
RSL also has two games in hand on Dallas, as they’ve only played 15 games. A win on Saturday will launch them past Dallas into second place—two points behind the Rapids—and will still be left with a game in hand on the Texas side.
I’m not sure many would call this a true rivalry, but there is plenty of history and lots of back-and-forth between these two clubs. This is the first match of three between them this season, with the other two coming later on and both being played at Rio Tinto Stadium.
FC Dallas leads the all-time series, going 17-10-6 in MLS play through 33 games (including playoff games), outscoring Salt Lake 49-40 overall.
RSL has a rocky history in the state of Texas—especially against Dallas—with their first-ever win in Frisco coming on July 14, 2013 when they won 3-0, with goals from Javier Morales, Ned Grabavoy, and Olmes Garcia. They haven’t beat Dallas on the road since then, but they’ll be looking to notch a second win with this quick road trip.
The last time these teams met was in October of 2015 when Dallas beat RSL at Rio Tinto by a score of 1-0, with David Texeira getting the lone goal and game winner in the 57th minute.
As mentioned before, RSL is coming off a 2-1 win at home on Wednesday against the New York Red Bulls, with a late game winner from Jordan Allen. Their game in Dallas is only three days later, so there’s a good chance we may see plenty of changes in the starting lineup this weekend, especially with a US Open Cup match against the Seattle Sounders just three days after that. Could we see rookie Omar Holness pick up his first MLS start?
RSL will also still be without captain Kyle Beckerman who is still out with the US Men’s National Team as they wrap up their Copa America play on Saturday. We’re likely to see John Stertzer get the starting nod in place of a presumably-absent Sunny after his injury in Wednesday’s match.
Dallas will only be missing one player that we know of, as Zach Loyd is out with a broken nose and concussion that he suffered in US Open Cup play.
Yura Movsisyan seems to be on a hot streak and picking up his pace, with six goals on the season and four of those coming in his last five games. He’s constantly getting into dangerous positions and holding up the ball well when he needs to, and the finishing is the final piece that looks to be coming into focus. Look for at least a handful more from Yura in the coming months, especially with so many games coming up at home.
It’s hard to think of FC Dallas without the name Fabian Castillo coming to mind. The team has a ton of speed and young talent on the pitch, but Castillo is one of the most dangerous attackers on their squad. With three goals and three assists on the season, he’ll most certainly be looking to add to his tally, and with a quality attacker in Maxi Urruti to send in toward the goal, don’t be surprised if we see these guys come out swinging and have a few great looks at goal in the early minutes of the game.
No matter what lineup Jeff Cassar sends out on Saturday, we know it’s going to be hot, humid, and a battle from beginning to end. If RSL can find a way to keep Castillo and friends at bay, they could find themselves with their second-ever win in Dallas.