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What we’re watching in RSL vs. Sporting Kansas City

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Real finish a busy week at home against a bitter rival.

MLS: Real Salt Lake at Sporting KC Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Real Salt Lake host Sporting Kansas City on Saturday after a friendly on Monday night and an away game Wednesday. KC are at the top of the western conference table and haven’t lost a game since the end of May.

They are missing key players in Matt Besler and Graham Zusi, who are away on national team duty. Dom Dwyer has returned from the national team and may be available for this match. After Real’s two impressive wins, facing the western conference leaders will be a big test.

A Beckermanless Midfield

Kyle Beckerman was issued a highly questionable red card in Wednesday’s match against the Timbers, and MLS has upheld the decision after RSL’s appeal. This means we’re likely to see both Sunny and Luke Mulholland in midfield. We’ve had mixed results with this pairing in the past, but Sunny has impressed in his last few games. Luke’s passing accuracy has been very poor, but he is always one of the hardest workers on the field. You can also count on a few driven shots from the English midfielder. What we need to see from these two is passing accuracy and vision for moving the ball into the attack.

Experiments on the Backline

Acosta will likely play in the left back spot since Demar Phillips is out with a hamstring injury he picked up during the last match. Acosta is an exciting up and comer, but he lacks the experience of Demar and it can lead to mistakes. A few spots over on the backline, we’re likely to see Marcelo Silva make his debut in MLS. We got to see him against Manchester United, but this will be his first time playing with the first team in Major League Soccer. I’m excited to see what he can do against Sporting’s attack.

The New Fab Four

Rusnak in the number 10 role, Plata on the left wing, Savarino on the right, and Silva up top; it’s a beautiful thing. These young men have scored seven goals in their last two league matches (plus Silva’s no-big-deal goal against Man U). Silva works hard and gets into good space, often drawing off defenders. Plata has looked so dangerous and has also been tracking back more to help with defense. It’s been great to see him work so hard. I can’t decide who I like to watch more, Albert or Jefferson. Both have good touches on the ball and do such smart things. As these players get more time together, they are only going to improve. SKC has one of the best defenses in the league so if they can break through and find the back of the net against this opponent, then that bodes very well for the future.