Riding high on a 4-2 takedown of previous conference leaders Sporting Kansas City, Real Salt Lake will look to do the same with the current conference leaders in their second home game in a row this week as they play host to FC Dallas.
Dallas have a massive lead in the all-time series between the two sides, going 19W-11L-7D against Real Salt Lake in MLS regular season play, dating all the way back to RSL’s first season in 2005. The last time they met earlier this season ended up in a 1-1 draw, thanks to a 25th-minute goal from Joao Plata, and then an 86th-minute own goal by RSL’s own defender Marcelo Silva.
Of course, that game was on the road in Frisco, as was the previous meeting before that which ended in a 6-2 rout for the Texas side. This time they’ll meet at Rio Tinto Stadium, where RSL has lost only one of their last 17 matches, and are currently riding an eight-game unbeaten streak.
Real Salt Lake
Record: 8-8-2 (26 points)
Table: 4th place (west), 9th place (overall)
Points per game: 1.44 (10th in MLS)
Most goals: Corey Baird (5)
Most assists: Damir Kreilach (5)
Clean sheets: 4
Home stand continues
As mentioned previously, RSL is currently riding an eight-game unbeaten streak at home, which includes seven wins and only one draw. Their only loss at Rio Tinto Stadium came in the home opener this year with a 5-1 loss from newcomers LAFC. Other than that, they’ve been incredibly dominant at home, truly on the path to turning the RioT into a fortress once again.
Their skill will be tested again this weekend as they face the Western Conference leaders FC Dallas, who are visiting Rio Tinto Stadium for the first and only time this season. Sporting Kansas City came into Salt Lake as the Western Conference leaders, but following their loss to RSL and Dallas’ win over Atlanta, FCD has taken the sole number one spot in the West with 35 points, just nine points ahead of RSL’s 26.
With a win, RSL can’t jump into a higher ranking just yet, as they trail third-place LAFC by five points. But of course, a win over Dallas could potentially put them within three points of second place.
If there’s ever been a perfect time for RSL to go on a tear, that time would be now as they can start gaining some valuable points that will pay off in a big way as we draw closer to playoffs.
New scoring leader, yellow card cautions
With Corey Baird’s goal against SKC, that officially put him as RSL’s leading scorer on the season with five goals in total. The 22-year-old homegrown player has been vital to RSL’s attack this season, winning the starting spot over Luis Silva early in the year and never looking back.
It’s also worth noting that both Marcelo Silva and Kyle Beckerman are on yellow card watch, which means if either of them get a yellow against Dallas, they’ll be suspended for the following match.
Record: 10-2-5 (35 points)
Table: 1st place (west), 2nd place (overall)
Points per game: 2.06 (1st in MLS)
Most goals: Roland Lamah (7)
Most assists: Mauro Diaz (7)
Clean sheets: 6
Best in the West
So at the moment, Dallas is officially the best in the West. They’re in great form right now, going 6-1-0 in their last seven outings — the only loss coming in the form of a 3-0 defeat by the New York Red Bulls back in mid-June. They’ve scored 12 goals through those seven games as well, showing that they’re more than capable of running an attack any team.
Mounting possibly the best comeback of the season so far, they’re fresh off a 3-2 win over league-leading Atlanta United FC. Down 2-1 late in the game, Tesho Akindele came on for the Hoops and scored two goals within two minutes in the dying moments of the game to secure all three points for Dallas.
The playmaker is gone
In what seems like a huge blow to the team, they’ve officially lost midfielder and longtime playmaker Mauro Diaz in a transfer to Shabab Al-Ahli Dubai FC of the UAE Arabian Gulf League. Racking up two goals and seven assists this season, FC Dallas will have to find a way to make up for the hole Diaz will leave in the midfield.
Luckily, they have team scoring leader Roland Lamah who has been having himself a great year, notching seven goals and three assists himself. Striker Maxi Urruti is close behind Lamah in the goal tally, with six goals to his name along with two assists.
With the loss of star defender Walker Zimmerman to LAFC this past offseason, Dallas defender and captain Matt Hedges has stepped up to fill the role and lead the team to a league second-best 19 goals allowed, outdone only by the New York Red Bulls who have only allowed 16 goals on the season.
Real Salt Lake
OUT: Tony Beltran (knee), Jordan Allen (knee), Alex Horwath (achilles surgery), Shawn Barry (knee), Demar Phillips (ankle), David Horst (torn achilles), Luke Mulholland (back), Ricky Lopez-Espin (knee)
OUT: Cristian Colman (ankle sprain)
RSL: Rimando; Lennon, M Silva, Glad, Acosta; Kreilach, Beckerman; Savarino, Rusnak, Saucedo; Baird
FCD: Gonzalez; Cannon, Hedges, Ziegler, Figueroa; Barrios, Gruezo, Ulloa, Mosquera; Urruti, Lamah
When: Saturday, July 7, 8:00PM MT
Where: Rio Tinto Stadium — Sandy, UT
Weather: 91 degrees, clear
Broadcast: KMYU, KSL TV app (streaming), ESPN+ (streaming), ESPN700 (radio)
Referee: Armando Villarreal