I want you to close your eyes, take a deep breath, and think back to how RSL made you feel over the past week and a half. Feels good, doesn’t it? Two wins against the two Western Conference leaders back to back felt great for the fans, and had to be a huge boost of confidence for the players as well. Will that confidence carry into this weekend’s road date with Minnesota? And what kinds of things might we expect to see from this game? Let’s jump in and take a look!
Real Salt Lake
The switch that we have been waiting for finally flipped! RSL put up 6 goals in two games against two good teams. We have been talking for weeks about how the RSL attack was right there, and just needed a little something to go right for the offense to explode. The three goal in 25 minute performance against SKC was exactly what RSL needed to flip the switch.
The challenge now will be to see if they can translate that attack to an away game. Through 9 road games this season, RSL have never been able to score more than one goal in a game away from Rio Tinto. If they can break that trend and put more than one goal away, they should have a decent chance to get a positive result on the road against Minnesota United.
I don’t expect to see anything different tactically from RSL in this game. It is starting to become clear that the players are buying into Mike Petke’s system and applying it well. We have also seen that Petke has made the subtle adjustments needed to his system to cater to his current best XI personnel and get them to play well together.
There has been a lot of talk as the season has gone on about who the best defensive midfield duo is for the team, and everybody is still going to have their opinions on what they think is best. There are many people who have said that Kyle Beckerman and Damir Kreilach should not play together, myself included at one point. But they clearly proved us wrong in the Dallas game. Is that just a one-off? Possibly. But as I’ve watched the team play together over the past few weeks, I have seen that all of the players have begun to understand each other much better, and that is helping them to play better as a unit. Petke’s tactical adjustment of focusing on keeping the fullbacks more balanced has provided the midfield support that has been needed. I expect that we will see Beckerman and Kreilach start this game together, as they did against Dallas.
Minnesota United FC
Minnesota come into this game with a 6-11-1 overall record, good for 19 points and 9th place in the current Western Conference standings. Through their 18 games, they have scored 23 goals while conceding 36 times. They play in a 4-2-3-1 formation the same as Real Salt Lake, but have had difficulty in always making it work for them. If anything, Minnesota are an even more inconsistent team than we have seen Real Salt Lake be at times this season.
Minnesota’s attack is currently lead by attacking mid Darwin Quintero, who has six goals on the season, half of which are thanks to a hat trick against Toronto FC last week. Have you seen the videos of those three goals?? They show a player with a lot of skill hit some absolute golazos. But the struggle for Quintero, much like the rest of the team, is consistency. He can disappear for large stretches of games and have very little impact. RSL will definitely hope that they match up with the latter Quintero, not the former. It will be important for Beckerman and Kreilach to keep track of his movements and even more importantly, track and mark him tightly in and around the box.
One thing that RSL can really look forward to is exploiting Minnesota on the wings. They have struggled defensively on the wings all season, so if RSL can just play their normal game and attack well down the wings with Saucedo and Savarino, they should find offensive success and scoring opportunities.
DF: Lennon, M. Silva, Glad, Acosta
MF: Beckerman, Kreilach
MF: Savarino, Rusnak, Saucedo
RSL’s keys to the match
- Track Quintero. If they can make him disappear in this game, they will have a solid chance to pull out a positive result.
- Keep the offense rolling. The Claret and Cobalt offense has looked good over the past couple of weeks, and should have multiple good scoring opportunities against a struggling Minnesota defense. Attacking down the wings will be key, and could just see RSL come out of this road game with a win.