Real Salt Lake have struggled significantly on the road, but home performances have been much better. Four out of five of Real’s wins in 2017 have come at Rio Tinto. This will be Orlando’s second trip to Utah and their first under head coach Jason Kreis. Kreis isn’t the only familiar face returning to the Riot, players like Luis Gil and Will Johnson spent a significant amount of time here and their return could make for an exciting match.
Center Back Pairing
It was just over a year ago that RSL faced a wave of injuries that allowed Justen Glad to be a starting center back for the first time. Since then, the young player has cemented his role as a starter in the defensive line. Who is second in the CB order? Aaron Maund has gotten the last few starts over Chris Schuler, but it’s not totally clear which of those two is the better player. Maund and Glad had a good thing going for much of last season, but keep an eye out for who starts along Justen and how they preform.
Charles Barnard (a must follow on Twitter, @ccb1212) pointed out that, “When Beckerman plays, RSL scores a goal every 68 minutes. Without him the team scores every 302 minutes.” Beckerman has never been a flashy player, but he is the captain for a reason. That stat shows the impact he has when on the field. He commands respect and keeps the rest of the team in shape. Unfortunately it’s not a role that anyone else has been able to fill, and Beckerman’s career likely won’t go on many more years. So, watch what Kyle does and how he helps on both sides of the ball to allow those around him to be better.
Moving the ball
Maybe it’s an oversimplification, but RSL have struggled to connect the ball in meaningful ways. This is most evident in the attack, but has also been difficult throughout the midfield. Hopefully Beckerman on the field, plus the likely return of Albert Rusnak, helps passing down the middle. The biggest concern is attacking players connecting passes with one another in order to create good chances at goal. If we can string together a few passes in the final third that lead to a shot on target, then that’s a big step in the right directly.