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RSL vs. Minnesota United: What we’re watching

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RSL is back after a long break and looking for better form with a healthy squad.

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

Real Salt Lake host Minnesota United on Saturday. RSL lost to the expansion side earlier in the season in Minneapolis. MNUFC have had a rough season, but are still ahead of RSL in the standings (level on points but with a better goal difference). This is a big moment in the season for Real. This game will be very telling of where the club is at with a (nearly) full squad.

Who plays

RSL coach Mike Petke had strong words in regard to players earning their spot. He said the 4-1 loss to Sacramento Republic FC answered questions about specific, but unnamed, players. With the return of players from injury and national team duty, this is going to be the widest selection we’ve seen this year. Chad Barrett is the only player out with injury, and Albert Rusnak is the only player away for international duty. This means we have twenty-six out of the twenty-eight players listed on the roster. While things will change during the transfer window, this line up might be the most telling for who Petke sees as viable options going forward.

The return of the U-20 Players

The day we’ve all been waiting for: Justen Glad, Brooks Lennon, Danny Acosta, and Sebastian Saucedo return. When these players were out with the U.S. National Team at the U-20 World Cup, we did see other younger players on the field, but with mixed results. However, these four have shifted from young players who show potential, to tested and reliable players. One of the things I’ve wanted to see all season is the return of Glad and I’m hopeful we see all four on the field against Minnesota. When players know one another well, as these players do from the academy and international tournaments, that understanding can improve the whole team.

The backline

In the last three games (two MLS and one US Open Cup), we’ve conceded 15 goals. 15 goals! By contrast, the Monarchs have only conceded 3 goals in their last three games. Aaron Maund and Chris Schuler had had a very good run up until the trip to Texas, but that’s where the wheels really came off. One thing I’ve most excited about is the return of Justen Glad. He certainly won’t be the solution to all of the problem on the backline, but between him, Acosta and Demar Phillips, we should see improvement. Rimando in goals does a fantastic job of organizing the defense and his return will be felt.