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Real Salt Lake vs. New England preview: In dire need of a win

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Real Salt Lake and the New England Revolution, two teams who desperately need a win, will battle it out at Gillette Stadium this weekend.

MLS: New England Revolution at Real Salt Lake Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

A severely short-handed Real Salt Lake team desperate for a win will travel to Massachusetts to face the New England Revolution, which begins a long stretch where they’ll play seven of their next 11 games on the road, taking them all the way out to mid-July.

Sinking ships?

Things have been looking bleak for Real Salt Lake (2-6-2, 8 points) as they’ve dropped their last three games in a row, while being outscored by their opponents 9-1 in those matches. Granted, those were three very tough opponents (Atlanta, Sporting Kansas City, FC Dallas), but it’s not getting any easier for the claret and cobalt as they see New England, New York City FC, and Seattle in their next three outings.

RSL now sits in 10th place in the Western Conference, ahead of only the Colorado Rapids who have two games in hand.

On the other side, the New England Revolution (2-4-4, 10 points) aren’t in much better shape in the standings, while they sit in ninth place in the East, just ahead of Montreal and Philadelphia. Coming off of a 2-0 loss in Columbus in week 10, the Revs will play four of their next six matches at home, so they’re in a spot where they need to start getting results as well.

Match history

The series between these two sides have seen some of the biggest scorelines and craziest games in RSL history, starting back in 2009 when Salt Lake pounded New England at home by a score of 6-0. This was followed up just the next year by another 5-0 drubbing the when the Revs visited Sandy again. In 2011, the two games they played produced five red cards, a 2-0 win for RSL on the road and a 3-3 draw at Rio Tinto Stadium.

The last time RSL visited Gillette Stadium, it was the Revolution who handed out the beating as they rolled to a 4-0 win over an RSL team that was without many of its starters.

Overall, Salt Lake holds a commanding lead in the all-time series with nine wins, five losses, and six draws — outscoring New England 34-25 through just 20 games.

Personnel, or lack thereof

While RSL has been battered with injuries all season long, it went from bad to worse as they lost Bofo Saucedo, Brooks Lennon, Danny Acosta, and Justen Glad to the USMNT U-20 World Cup squad. While this is a massive and exciting opportunity for the young talent on the squad to represent their country on a world stage, it doesn’t make things any easier for Mike Petke as he’ll have to get creative in selecting a starting eleven.

The good news? Two words — Jefferson Savarino. RSL’s new young DP signing could be available for selection as early as Saturday, and it couldn’t be better timing. The 20-year-old Venezuelan will bring some much-needed relief, depth, and speed on the wing as needed. With Joao Plata seeming to be on thin ice with Petke lately, and the loss of both Saucedo and Lennon for the next little while, Savarino could see some substantial playing time in the coming weeks.

If Savarino isn’t quite ready to make the starting lineup for this one, we’ll likely see Petke look to Luis Silva or Ricardo Velazco to start on the right wing in place of Lennon, as Jordan Allen is still dealing with his quad injury.

MLS: FC Dallas at Real Salt Lake
Aaron Maund made his return to the RSL lineup last week against FC Dallas.
Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

RSL’s injury list is still just about as long as it’s been the last few weeks, save for the return of defender Aaron Maund. Chris Schuler will also be back after serving his one-game suspension against Dallas next week, so we can expect to see a veteran center back tandem most likely make the start in this match-up. Nick Rimando is still out with his hamstring injury, so we can expect Matt Van Oekel to make his third start in a row.

New England, on the other hand, is missing nobody. That’s right — they’re the only team in the league who doesn’t have a single player listed on their injury report.

The Revs have an incredibly potent attack when they’re firing on all cylinders, with strikers Kei Kamara (2 goals) and Juan Agudelo (6 goals) being backed up by star playmaker Lee Nguyen. Fortunately for RSL, New England has also struggled to find a solid defensive lineup, despite the signings of Benjamin Angoua and Antonio Mlinar Delamea.

The Revs’ defense has only been able to keep two clean sheets this season while giving up 16 goals — just two goals less than RSL’s total of 18.

If nothing else, we can expect an entertaining game as these are two teams in desperate need of points to gain some ground in their respective conference tables.


Leading scorers

Real Salt Lake: Yura Movsisyan (4), Albert Rusnak (2), Luke Mulholland (2), Brooks Lennon (1)

New England: Juan Agudelo (6), Lee Nguyen (4), Kei Kamara (2)

Absences

Real Salt Lake
OUT: Chad Barrett (knee), David Horst (knee), Justen Glad (int’l duty/knee injury), Brooks Lennon (int’l duty), Sebastian Saucedo (int’l duty), Danilo Acosta (int’l duty)
QUESTIONABLE: Jordan Allen (quad strain), Kyle Beckerman (calf strain), Nick Rimando (hamstring), Tony Beltran (back)

New England
-none-

Expected lineups

Real Salt Lake: Van Oekel; Wingert, Schuler, Maund, Phillips; Sunny, Mulholland; Silva, Rusnak, Plata; Movsisyan

New England: Cropper; Farrell, J Smith, Delamea, Rowe; Kouassi, Caldwell, Fagundez, Nguyen; Kamara, Agudelo

Match info

When: Saturday, May 13, 2017 at 5:30PM MT

Where: Gillette Stadium — Foxborough, MA

Weather: 45 degrees, rain

Broadcast: KMYU, ESPN 700, MLS Live

Referee: Hilario Grajeda