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What we’re watching in Real Salt Lake vs. San Jose Earthquakes

After what feels like years, RSL returns to the RioT to take on a struggling San Jose

MLS: Real Salt Lake at Philadelphia Union Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Real Salt Lake return to Rio Tinto Stadium for the first time since June 6th (US Open Cup) and they’ll be facing the San Jose Earthquakes. The Quakes are winless in six matches. RSL haven’t lost at home since their opener against LAFC and will be seeking to extend that record. RSL sits in fifth place in the west on 22 points, whereas the Earthquakes are in eleventh with a mere 10 points.

Retaking the field

RSL won three games in a row, then were knocked out of the US Open Cup by Sporting Kansas City at home and fell to the Galaxy in Los Angeles. This was all before the World Cup break, but it was an odd shift from a team underperforming, then outstripping all expectations, then back-to-back losses. In that three-game win run, we saw a lot that was missing from earlier in the season. That made the two losses a bit of a gut punch. Aside from fan feelings, what counts is how the team responds to that mix of results. The losses, in all fairness, came at the end of a fifteen day stretch that saw RSL play five games. Has the break provided rest and refocus? The Earthquakes should be a team RSL can beat at home, so it’s important that they can take all three points.

Making the pieces fit

During Rusnak’s absence with his national team, Kreilach greatly impressed in the number 10 role. It was a better use of his skillset than defensive mid and it opened the possibility to see Beckerman and Sunny together. Albert hasn’t been as strong in his attacking midfield role as last season, so there’s a strong case for experimentation. Putting Rusnak on the wing and shifting Damir up-field would be ideal. This would mean sacrificing one of our standard wingers, but since Plata is listed as questionable, this might be the right game to try. How the front four lines up will be very telling of how Petke sees his options.

RSL Injury Report

Out: Beltran (knee 10/15/17) Allen (knee 6/16/17) Barry (knee 3/10) Phillips (ankle 4/7) Horwath (achilles 4/18)

Questionable: Mulholland (back 5/2) Plata (back 6/2)

Predicted Line Up

Rimando

Lennon, Glad, M.Silva, Acosta

Beckerman, Sunny

Savarino, Kreilach, Rusnak

Baird