Real Salt Lake (1-2-1, 4 points) returns home this week to play host to the Vancouver Whitecaps (3-1-1, 10 points) after a disappointing 3-1 loss last week in Toronto, thanks to a pair of goals from Jozy Altidore and a late-game third goal by Tosaint Ricketts.
The second-place Whitecaps will visit Rio Tinto Stadium for the first and only time this year. Having boosted their attacking power significantly this offseason by acquiring Kei Kamara from New England, it seems to already be paying off as Kamara has scored three goals in four appearances so far for Vancouver this season.
RSL and Vancouver have more or less traded shutout victories in their last five meetings, with the lone exception in the last five meetings coming on Sept. 9, when RSL lost 2-3 in a match that included Tony Beltran’s first MLS goal.
There’s not too much bad blood between these two sides, and since 2013, they’re on basically equal footing against each other, with both sides taking home three wins, and with four of six victories coming on the respective team’s home turf.
RSL’s right back conundrum might be coming to a close, with Adam Henley and Aaron Herrera both back in training — but it really remains to be seen what coach Mike Petke does with the position. He’s played Brooks Lennon there for the last two matches with varying levels of success, but the prospect of a true defender there must be a tantalizing one.
On the mirrored side of the field, expect Danilo Acosta to again not feature, with Demar Phillips taking the reins. We’re still waiting for Acosta to make a return, and Petke hasn’t been drawn on when that could happen.
Normally, most other positions would pick themselves, but with a less-than-favorable loss to Toronto FC still stinging, expect some changes — especially after Petke talked about knowing what needed fixing. One option could see both first-choice wing options sitting, with Corey Baird impressing early in 2018 and Brooks Lennon looking ready for minutes.
Finally, the battle between Alfredo Ortuño and Luis Silva will continue, with the former’s lack of fitness seeing him as more of a bench option than a starting option. Will Petke make a change to get the prominent signing minutes, or is Silva set to continue in the lineup? Would changing three of the four up top be too much to swallow?
Rimando; Henley, Glad, M. Silva, Phillips; Beckerman, Kreilach; Baird, Rusnak, Lennon; Ortuño
Real Salt Lake
- Out: Tony Beltran, Jordan Allen, Taylor Peay
- Questionable: Luke Mulholland (hamstring), Shawn Barry (hamstring)
- Probable: Aaron Herrera
- Out: D - Sean Franklin (quad strain)
- Questionable: M - Yordy Reyna (undisclosed injury), F - Erik Hurtado (undisclosed injury)
Real Salt Lake
- Goals: Joao Plata (2)
- Assists: Jefferson Savarino, Albert Rusnak (1)
- Goals: Kei Kamara (3)
- Assists: Alphonso Davies (2)
- Where: Rio Tinto Stadium; Sandy, Utah
- When: 7:30 p.m. Mountain
- Broadcast: KMYU, KSL.com, KSL TV App, MLS Live (free)
- Radio: ESPN 700