Last time Real Salt Lake met Vancouver Whitecaps, they ran out 2-1 victors.
But that was in Sandy, Utah. Friday, they face off in Vancouver. That could present certain struggles for RSL, who have been fairly dismal on the road in 2018.
But for all RSL’s struggles, the Whitecaps have struggled nearly equally, with a 6-0 loss still in the rear view mirror for the Vancouver side.
Where they stand
Vancouver Whitecaps (3W-4L-1D)
If you’ve been dismayed by Real Salt Lake’s season, then Vancouver’s run of form ought to provoke even stronger feelings. After losing their third match in as many games, RSL has every reason to be hopeful — especially after the ‘Caps lost 6-0 to Sporting KC in their last match.
Only once has Vancouver kept the opposition from scoring, and that bodes well for Salt Lake, who can be a free-scoring side when it suits them.
Real Salt Lake (3-3-1)
With three wins, three losses and a draw, RSL is sitting in a better position than you might expect, but they’re very much in-line with Vancouver’s middling season so far. The big difference? RSL’s results have been interspersed, with no consecutive wins, draws or losses; Vancouver’s have all come in a clump.
RSL’s key players
Jefferson Savarino is starting to look closer to the player we saw last year, so look for him to try to exploit any potential space on the right. I’ll be looking to see whether he’s playing more on the wing or more in the channels — he’s capable in both capacities, certainly.
Damir Kreilach is starting to come into his own as an RSL player, and I suspect he’ll continue starting ahead of other contenders. Look for him to continue establishing what his midfield presence looks like in comparison to Kyle Beckerman.
Nick Besler is likely to continue in defense, so look for him to build on a strong first start for the first team. He’ll likely have his hands full against Vancouver’s strike force.
RSL’s expected lineup
Expect few changes in RSL’s general construction, with no news from recent injuries having surfaced. The usual suspects remain out, and the lack of presence on the bench for a number of players doesn’t put them in a position where they might start.
Don’t expect to see David Horst or Marcelo Silva, and with Luke Mulholland failing to make the bench, it’s hard to see him being fit enough for 90 minutes.
Rimando; Lennon, Glad, Besler, Acosta; Beckerman, Kreilach; Plata, Rusnak, Savarino; Ortuño
I’ve gone with no changes here. You might see Pablo Ruiz start somehow, but it’s not entirely clear who he supplants in the lineup. Perhaps Joao Plata or Jefferson Savarino? Maybe Damir Kreilach?
You might also see Alfredo Ortuño playing, though he does seem like a long-shot. It does force us to wonder what it’ll take to see Ortuño from the outset — or for more than 15 minutes in a stretch.
UPDATE, 2:05pm: Of course the club releases the injury list between my scheduling this article and it being published. Don’t expect Luis Silva to play. He’s listed as questionable. Alfredo Ortuño should get the start. Ricky Lopez-Espin has traveled.