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What we’re watching in RSL vs. San Jose Earthquakes, preseason

RSL takes on the Earthquakes in their second preseason game in Tucson.

MLS: LA Galaxy vs. Real Salt Lake Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Real Salt Lake takes on a second California team in their next preseason game. After a 3-1 win over the LA Galaxy, RSL will look to keep a winning mentality going against the San Jose Earthquakes while trying out some new things.

All the players

For any diehard MLS fan, this time of year feels like the Christmas season. There’s buzz, it’s all building towards something, but we’re not quite there yet. In one month’s time, Real will take the field in Dallas. There are a lot of unknowns about this roster. Rumors of another signing are alive and well online. There are one or two players that will likely be offloaded before opening day. Many new faces are back and we have a good crop of new signings.

Part of the beauty of these preseason games is it’s a low-pressure atmosphere. The team can start Hernandez where we normally see Rusnak or have Acosta play as a center-back. Look to see who does well and who underwhelms. As a fan watching these games, a lot of it is understanding what head coach Mike Petke is thinking.

I’m also excited to see how the new guys start to gel with the reason of the team. The more time these players get on the field with each other the better. Of the new crew, who communicates and takes charge on the field? Where is the leadership coming from?

A few reminders: Jefferson Savarino had his appendix removed last week and has not yet returned to training. Marcelo Silva and Albert Rusnak did not play against LAG as a precaution but may return for this game.

Tactics and form

The 4-2-3-1 formation was held to pretty hard and fast last season. I expect to see the same this year, but I’m curious if they try different things now. There were a few games in 2017 felt like Petke was calling off any non-essential defender to bring on an attacker to force a result, so he’s not married to exact formations. I’m curious to see if there are any major changes from the LA game. If there are, it points to experimentation for what might work during the season. If we see a similar formation and tactics, then it would seem we’re solidifying how we’ll play in 2018.

The post match

Jason Kreis often seemed like a stonewall in a press conference. Jeff Cassar felt warm, but gave a lot of excuses. Mike Petke is incredibly straightforward. You can glean a lot from the little, but often lot, he says. Look for video of what his thoughts are on this game because he’ll be pretty honest about it.