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RSL vs. Vancouver Whitecaps: What we’re watching

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Tonight’s match pits Real Salt Lake against their own injuries — but can Mike Petke pull them out of the tar pits?

MLS: Real Salt Lake at Minnesota United FC Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

The dawning of the age of Petke

Mike Petke has said repeatedly that he was going to take an iterative approach to getting Real Salt Lake up and running again, and while that’s hardly the immediate change fans might have been begging for, it’s hard to see an alternative. You can never accomplish every goal at once, and frankly, it’s the one that gives us the most chance for success.

The question, then? How will his first iteration of the team under his tutelage play out? The biggest thing he talked about is tactical, but can he motivate the squad to proper performances and not just intensity?

Petke’s tactics

Our new man in charge has laid out a few of his tactical leanings already, so let’s go to the tape:

(W)e can get a bit of a higher starting point — a lot higher starting point, actually — and be specific with the players of the areas that we want them at, the areas that they win the ball, how we want to win the ball in these areas.

Good, right? Well, how will that shake out? Will we have our wingers closer to goal than our full backs, or can Petke get that working as he intends this week? The most interesting part of this for me is when he mentions being specific — that points to one of the problems we’d had that he’s aiming to fix.

Who starts? Is somebody benched?

So, we’re still pretty much the walking wounded, but things look slightly better than they did last week, I guess. Chris Schuler doesn’t appear on the injury list, so expect him to start alongside Justin Schmidt — but Aaron Maund is dealing with a hamstring strain. So, too, is Sunny. Tony Beltran remains listed as questionable with a back injury, Jordan Allen is still questionable with his quad strain, and Justen Glad is still out — but getting close, apparently.

I’d also count on Jose Hernandez and Reagan Dunk not playing, given they both played 45 minutes on Thursday evening for Real Monarchs. They might have an outside opportunity to make the bench, but the timing isn’t conducive, regardless.

Predicted lineup

Rimando; Beltran, Schuler, Schmidt, Phillips; Beckerman, Mulholland, Rusnak; Lennon, Movsisyan, Plata

Benched? Nobody?

Yeah, I actually don’t really buy the ‘bench somebody’ approach being a thing from a new coach, and I’d be surprised if any of the expected starters don’t make it. Omar Holness has a chance for Luke Mulholland, certainly, especially given good performances for Real Monarchs. Sebastian Saucedo might get an opportunity ahead of Plata. But being dropped? I wouldn’t count on it.