Real Salt Lake head to Georgia to take on the league leaders. Atlanta United have had an extremely successful sophomore year, with Josef Martinez leading the golden boot race with a staggering 30 goals. Real have had an odd season, starting out slowly, later getting two six goals wins in a row, and drawing Minnesota United in their last game. If RSL want to get anything out of this game, they’re going to need to play at their best.
There’s a New Ned in Town
RSL’s defense could have been much, much worse than it has been this season. Right back Tony Beltran has been out all season. His replacement, Adam Henley, has not seen significant playing time, and when he has taken the field, hasn’t looked particularly good. The team has an injury list which includes permanent members like Horst and Beltran, and occasional appearances from Marcelo Silva and Shawn Barry. Nick Besler has done his best (and at times very well) as a fill-in center back, but that’s not his position. Thus, Nedum Onuoha.
Onuoha seems like the real deal. He’s been the captain of Queens Park Rangers for the past three years, and played in both the Championship and Premier League. He has a passion for developing younger players, which is just what this young back line need. I’m hoping he gets the start against Atlanta. I’m not sure the Besler/Glad partnership is up to task, so if Petke feels that Nedum is ready to be thrown into a game, I’m excited to see his impact against the attacking force of ATL.
The Mid Field Question
Common consensus is that once Kyle Beckerman left the field, RSL struggled against a poor Minnesota. There’s still no clear replacement for Beckerman. Granted, both Kreilach and Belser could be defensive midfielders, but RSL’s injury/roster issues are pushing those players out of position. There’s no way around Ruiz’s abysmal performance last weekend either. If Beckerman can’t go the full 90, this team is in serious trouble. Can the captain play the entire match, and if not, how does the team do without him?
We’re seeing good chemistry between Rusnak and Damir, but Plata and Savarino felt less present during RSL’s last match. This isn’t to say they’re playing poorly, but their contribution was one of several issue’s last weekend. Watch to see how they pull defenders out, provide service into the box, and create or take chances themselves. If we don’t have a true number 9, our wingers have to live up to their considerable potential in order to get a result.
OUT: Beltran (knee 10/15/17) Allen (knee 6/16/17) Horwath (achilles 4/18) Horst (achilles 6/26)
QUESTIONABLE: Phillips (hamstring 9/10)
Predicted Line Up
Lennon, Glad, Onuoha, Herrera
Savarino, Rusnak, Plata