Real Salt Lake takes on D.C. United this Independence Day weekend. RSL is back at the RioT, where they have been able to pile on the points to be the 3rd best team in both the Western Conference and the Supporter Shield race. Here are three things to watch for as they work to get three more points.
With the game on Friday, RSL will have played six games in the last 17 days. With cross country travels and playing in the USOC games and playing MLS regular season game, this game may test RSL. The back line will really be tested with the likes of Alvaro Saborio, and if fitness is really an issue, Nick Rimando will need to be in top form in goal. Half way through the season, there has to be some tired legs.
Through this point in the season, Yura, Burrito and Beltran are all over 1,100 minutes played and Yura and Beltran have been battle tested at almost 1,300 minutes. Thsee players play consistently and they play hard for the amount of time they are on the field. The past couple of weeks, RSL has not played the same starting 11 but because of the depth problem for RSL, most of the starters have had to play the majority of the games.
The Fortress that is the RioT
Rio Tinto Stadium, in years past, has been one of the most feared stadiums in the league. This season, they have been able to create that same atmosphere. They have not lost a game this Regular season at home. The team seems to strive on energy from the crowd and it could be overwhelming for D.C. United. Real Salt Lake has created a culture of winning in the stadium.
Tuesday’s loss against the Sounders is the first loss that RSL has had in any competition at Rio Tinto Stadium since October of 2015. They have tied at home and won but so far in the MLS regular season games, RSL is 5-0-1. Whereas on the road, their record is 3-5-2. That just shows that the players are more efficient and more effective in front of their home fans. One more stat that shows that RSL is better at home, RSL has been outscored on their away games, 17-21. At home, they outscore their opponents 10-5. The number of goals allowed is a difference of 16 goals so far this season.
The Three Amigos
The front 3 for RSL has been one of the best and most dynamic attacks in the league. Plata, Burrito and Yura have created opportunities and has been able to capitalize on those chances. In recent years, RSL has had good strikers but we're not able to capitalize.
The difference has been that Plata has his speed, Yura is not just a point striker but will track back and create his own plays as well and Burrito is, well, Burrito is Burrito. RSL has created a team culture that feels like the ultimate goal for the season is the Cup, and they have been able to show that.
RSL is working step-by-step to inch their way closer and closer to the top of the League by playing consistently at home and they have a chance to prove that on Friday night when they take on DC United.