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RSL vs. Atlanta United: What we’re watching

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There’s a new window of excitement under our sails as RSL heads back home looking for a big win against MLS newcomers.

MLS: Real Salt Lake at Colorado Rapids Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

If you’re anxiously awaiting Real Salt Lake’s return to Rio Tinto Stadium, you’re certainly not the only one. We’ll all be donning sweaters for this one — it’s a pro-Petke love-in, but without the psychedelics — and we have plenty of reason to be pleased with early results under the new boss.

Petke, after all, has been turning Real Salt Lake into a viable team again, and even if he’s not performing rocket surgery, what he’s doing has been meaningful. He’s turned a team that wanted to press high up the field, and he’s letting them do it. He’s also taken a team that lacked a cohesive vision and he’s given it one.

But for all of the positive aspects of that, there’s no way that guarantees results against Atlanta United FC today. We hope they’re associated, but Atlanta are a hot, exciting side at this point, and we’re only just starting to look passable again.

What’s in store for tonight? Let’s take a walk.

Mike Petke’s brigands

If Atlanta United are coming here expecting a walk in the park or to be handed three points, they’ll be in for a surprise. (Please, don’t let this be a walk in the park for them.) Instead, expect Real Salt Lake to scrap for possession, get a little dirty, and rob Atlanta of any chance at points. Expect some controversy along the way.

A raucous crowd

I don’t know if Rio Tinto Stadium will be sold out, and I don’t know if a drop in temperatures over the week will scare people away, but expect a crowd that’s impassioned once again. It’s one thing for our players to be rejuvenated under a new coach, but it’s absolutely no stretch to say that our fans have felt the same thing.

That we’re talking about all pulling on sweaters (or buttoning up a cardigan, depending on your preference) actually says something about the feeling around the team. Combine that with a snow-packed match last time we were at home, and you’re likely to see an energized core group of fans that really spread that excitement to the rest of the crowd.

Will this be a return to form for Real Salt Lake supporters? Here’s hoping.

Some of this, please

I know, I know. This isn’t SLC Dunk. Still! I’d love to see some sort of RSL equivalent of this — maybe Yura Movsisyan one-on-one with the goalkeeper sending him the wrong way instead of shooting the ball right at his hands.

Predicting the lineup

With the injury list more or less stable now (if a little too filled for our tastes), it’ll be interesting to see who Mike Petke puts out there tonight. I’m guessing we’ll see roughly the same lineup as last week:

Rimando; Acosta, Schuler, Wingert, Phillips; Beckerman, Mulholland; Lennon, Rusnak, Saucedo; Movsisyan