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Real Salt Lake vs. Vancouver Whitecaps: What we’re watching

MLS: New York Red Bulls at Real Salt Lake Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

With two poor losses in their rearview mirror, Real Salt Lake now face Vancouver Whitecaps in a match that’s likely crucial for the team’s early season ambitions.

Here’s what we’ll be watching as the team aims to put things right.

Who plays up top?

It seems fairly apparent that something’s not quite right in RSL’s approach, and while we talked about it earlier this week, I don’t think there was anything close to a consensus on what that could be. But one theme that resonated with me is that we’re not getting enough out of Joao Plata and Jefferson Savarino, both of whom seemed like locks to start when the 2017 season wrapped up.

But for all the hope, Savarino has proven unimpressive and Plata has looked a shadow of his best self. Petke could be nearing the point of dropping one or both of them in favor of other players — like, say, Corey Baird or Brooks Lennon. Time will tell.

Danilo Acosta? Nope.

To me, it’s starting to look like Danilo Acosta is working his way back, and that’s because he’s playing with Real Monarchs tomorrow — or so we’d assume, given it looks like he traveled to Arizona. I could be reading it entirely the wrong way, but if he’s going to get first-team minutes again, he needs to get back up to speed.

Of course, this could be part of some other routine, but I’d take this as a positive step.

Midfield woes, begone

Damir Kreilach and Kyle Beckerman haven’t exactly been playing lights-out together, and while some are seeing that as a negative sign in regard to their partnership, I’d instead wonder if there are systemic issues we should be taking a look at. For me, that starts at the front, where our defending should always start — and when that’s not as good as it should be, the odds that we can defend as a team diminish very quickly.

I’d argue that we, as fans, are expecting two midfielders to do the work of four. They’ll never be players fit for that particular role. Once we support them more effectively, we should be a much better team.