If Real Salt Lake fails to beat the New England Revolution, it’s fairly safe to assume their hopes at a post season are done. It’s not certain, but LA Galaxy are right on RSL’s heels. That being said, it shouldn’t be a problem that Sunny, Beckerman, Plata, Rusnak, and Savarino will miss this game. It’s fine that RSL plays again on Sunday in Portland, against a team that just destroyed Real at home. It’s also fine that UN is saying the climate is basically ruined as the heat death of the universe should solve that problem.
Starting 11 vibes
At the start of the season, we had a good idea who our starting 11 would be. And this changed drastically throughout the season. However, we’ve never been less sure of a starting 11 in 2018. Missing five starters, many of whom are the team’s best players, is devastating. If it were earlier in the season, maybe there would be a sense of optimism that our young core could be scrappy underdogs that get a result. But the fact of the matter is RSL haven’t won in four games. With the core wingers being out, it seems obvious that Bofo will start on the left, but does that mean Lennon will get pushed up on the right? It’s his natural position, but that would likely mean shifting Herrera over to the right back spot and either Acosta or Henley would be the next obvious choice (Barry is out with his national team). I think Petke keeps his go-to outside backs in Lennon and Herrera, and fits other players into the midfield and winger roles.
Kreilach feels like a biggest role of the dice to me. He could play, 1) defensive mid, 2) attacking mid (the number 10), or 3) center forward. None would come as a real surprise. Damir will be the commanding presence down the spine, but where ever he goes, there is a drop off in talent.
What kind of substitutions will we see when the starting 11 is already thin? The gaffer has shown he’s comfortable with few subs, so I’d be surprised if all three are used. Unless it’s so clear that things aren’t working, changes are needed. I suspect we see Mulholland, but beyond that, it’s hard to say. We could see a few fringe players, like Lopez-Espin or Hernandez. This would be exciting early in the season, but as a desperate move to stay above the playoff line, it’s sobering.
This season has seen RSL’s highest of highs (beating the Rapids 6-0, and LAG 6-2), and the lowest of lows (LAFC beating RSL 5-1, and that last Timbers game still stings). It’s extremely difficult to assign blame for these performances, and I’m not ready to say anyone person is solely responsible as these things are always multifaceted, but head coach Mike Petke is the man in charge of the team. He was somber in the last past match press conference, and you could feel his emotion as he gave his responses. The #petkeout movement has gain steam, and the coach must feel pressure to get results. If RSL fail to make the playoffs, that’s a stain on his record. Last season, he was getting the team in shape and on his wavelength. If he doesn’t lead the team to a playoff berth, the reasons feel thin.
Beltran (knee 10/15/17)
Allen (knee 6/16/17)
Horwath (achilles 4/18)
Horst (achilles 6/26)
Yellow Card Accumulation:
Predicted Line Up
Lennon, Glad, Onuoha, Herrera
Kreilach, Luis Silva, Bofo