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What we’re watching in Real Salt Lake vs. New York Red Bulls

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Mike Petke’s former team visits Utah as RSL look to bounce back

MLS: Real Salt Lake at New York Red Bulls Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Real Salt Lake suffered a staggering defeat at the hands of MLS newcomers LAFC last weekend. The New York Red Bulls beat the Portland Timbers 4-0 in their only game of the 2018 MLS season. They’ve also had two wins against Club Tijuan in CCL. They might be tired from all the recent games, but they’ve had a strong showing thus far. After RSL’s defeat, we might be some big changes today.

Center Forward

Luis Silva felt like he was missing from much of the LAFC match. Ortuño got his first RSL minutes in that game. He didn’t exactly cover himself in glory, but that doesn’t mean he’s not ready to start. The Spanish forward needs to get a meaningful runout in a game where the team isn’t down. I’m excited to see what he can do when the rest of the squad doesn’t already look shaky.

The Back Line

This is part of the team that is most open to change. Demar Phillips got burned quite a lot on the left. Whatever, if anything, is going on with Acosta must be put aside. The kid needs to start. Henley is listed as Probable on this week’s injury report, and I’m hopeful we’ll see Henley get his first start and Barry (who is notably not on the injury report) gets the nod at center back.

The Sweater Vest

There’s a lot of emotion around this game, especially for Mike Petke. Petke is a New York native. He got his professional start playing for the MetroStars (later renamed the New York Red Bulls). He was an assist, then head coach of the Red Bulls. He coached superstar Thierry Henry, won the Supporters Shield, and was unceremoniously fired.

Until last week, RSL had never lost a season opener and had never lost by more than a three goal difference at home. The 5-1 defeat was humiliating. Sitting in the post-match press conference last week, Petke looked more somber than I’d ever seen him. His face and eyes were red; his words were few.

This is going to be a big game for the gaffer. Mike is obviously a deeply competitive person. He’ll want redemption from last Saturday for his team. He’ll want to prove to NYRB that he’s the better coach. Whatever happens, he’ll be one to watch.

Predicted Line Up

Rimando

Henley - Barry - Glad – Acosta

Beckerman - Kreilach

Savarino -Rusnak - Plata

Ortuño