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RSL vs. FC Dallas preview: Salt Lake hopes to stay unbeaten at home

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MLS: Real Salt Lake at FC Dallas Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Real Salt Lake will play host to league-leading FC Dallas this weekend in a vital Western Conference match-up. RSL has six of their last nine games of the season at home, and will hope to capitalize on the home stand starting right now.

Where they stand

FC Dallas (13-6-6, 45 points) sits not only at the top of the Western Conference, but at the top of the Supporters’ Shield table as well. They are three points clear of second-place Colorado, but the Rapids have two games in hand on the Hoops. Dallas is 2-2-1 over their last five MLS outings, including a four-game unbeaten streak. Their last loss came on July 13th in the form of a 5-0 beatdown in Seattle.

Salt Lake (10-8-7, 37 points) missed an opportunity to gain some playoff positioning last weekend in Seattle when they dropped all three points in a 2-1 loss. They currently sit in fourth place, just one point behind the Galaxy and two points ahead of Kansas City. RSL is also 2-2-1 in their last five MLS games with losses coming from Seattle and Toronto.

For Real to stay above the red line going into the final portion of the season, they’ll really need to make the most of their home games over the next couple of months. The last playoff spot—held by the Portland Timbers—is only five points behind Salt Lake, so every point will count from here on out.

RSL is one of four teams who are still unbeaten at home this season, with a record of 6-0-5.

Match history

These two sides have only met once this year—back in June in Frisco where Dallas rolled to a 2-0 win thanks to goals from Kellyn Acosta and Fabian Castillo. The final two meetings will both come in the comfy confines of Rio Tinto Stadium, with the third game just over a month away on September 24th.

Dallas holds the edge in the all-time series with a record of 18-10-6 through 34 games in MLS play—including playoff games—outscoring RSL 49-40 over the years.

Personnel and key players

In an interesting back-and-forth saga that took place over a few weeks, FC Dallas finally parted ways with their long-time speedy winger Fabian Castillo in a move that saw the 24-year-old shipped off to Trabzonspor in Turkey. Castillo has been arguably Dallas’ best player for at least the past few years and has been a looming threat to any backline he would face. With five goals and five assists through the season before he left, he’s a presence that will leave a hole in the Dallas attack and is sure to leave them scrambling to fill it.

Even without Castillo, Dallas is still an extremely talented and dangerous team. Playmaker Mauro Diaz has had a fantastic year with three goals and ten assists. With players like Maxi Urruti and recently-signed Getterson for Diaz to send service to, they will still be a massive headache to every MLS backline. They have one of the best defenders in the league in Matt Hedges who continues to be a defensive powerhouse and help earn those points.

On the RSL side, we expect Yura Movsisyan to be back in the starting lineup after playing an impressive 45 minutes in Seattle last week and looking to be back to full health. We’ll be sure to see some impressive attacking play between he, Joao Plata, and Burrito Martinez. Kyle Beckerman has also been showing some flair lately with multiple near-goals throughout the last few games, and it seems like only a matter of time before one of his rocket shots finds the back of the net.

Lineups

RSL is still without Jordan Allen (adductor injury), Sunny (facial fractures), Aaron Maund (foot), and Emery Welshman (hip) as they head into the weekend. We’ll expect to see a center back pairing of Justen Glad and Jamison Olave as we wait for Maund to recover from his injury.

FC Dallas is only without Zach Loyd (concussion) and Ryan Hollingshead, who is listed as questionable due to concussion symptoms.

RSL expected lineup: Rimando; Phillips, Olave, Glad, Beltran; Mulholland, Morales, Beckerman; Plata, Movsisyan, Martinez

FCD expected lineup: Seitz; Figueroa, Hedges, Zimmerman, Harris; Barrios, Ulloa, Diaz, Gruezo; Urruti, Getterson