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RSL vs. LAFC: Lineup prediction and thoughts

Who might play on Saturday? Our options are not many.

MLS: Vancouver Whitecaps FC at Real Salt Lake Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

As we prepare ourselves for Real Salt Lake’s match against LAFC, we might be thinking a lot about “important” thing — tactics, substitution patterns, that sort of thing.

I’m not thinking about that at all. Instead, I’m focused on figuring out who’s going to play, because there aren’t a whole lot of choices to be had. Interestingly, that makes it an interesting thing to talk about. Maybe it’s evidence that choice is an illusion. I don’t know.

In the tradition of the Real Salt Lake lineup graphic that pops up on Twitter and Instagram before matches, here’s a list of the players I think could play. Unlike that, which is sorted so usefully by number, I’ve sorted it just as usefully by name.

  • Beckerman, Kyle
  • Beltran, Tony
  • Besler, Nick
  • Herrera, Aaron
  • Kreilach, Damir
  • Lennon, Brooks
  • Luiz, Everton
  • Onuoha, Nedum
  • Rimando, Nick
  • Saucedo, Sebastian
  • Schmitt, Tate

Those are the 11 players I think could end up playing. Should we leave it at that, or should we, you know, put them into a lineup?

Let’s do that.

Beltran, Besler, Onuoha, Herrera
Luiz, Beckerman
Lennon, Kreilach, Saucedo

On the face of it, that’s not too bad, right? I actually think it could work. Here’s what I’m anticipating for the bench.

  • Henley, Adam
  • Holt, Erik
  • Mulholland, Luke
  • Portillo, Justin
  • Putna, Andrew
  • Ruiz, Pablo
  • Toia, Donny

I’m not even 100 percent about this, so let’s go over some questions that are still pending.

Is Joao Plata fit?

I don’t think so. At best, he’ll make the bench, as he still hasn’t been training as of Tuesday. There’s basically no way he starts, right?

Petke said Plata hasn’t been in “any live practice action,” and did not provide an update on his potential availability for Saturday’s game.

“Obviously that’s the next evolution that we have to have before he steps on the field in a game,” Petke said. “So we’ll see Thursday.”

Salt Lake Tribune report

Is Luke Mulholland fit?

I don’t think so. He’s apparently told people recently that he’d be out for a couple weeks, though there’s not a source on that. At this point, it’s a bit of a rumor. It might also be the case that he’s been dropped, which is why I have him on the bench. Our midfield is actually escaping relatively unscathed by absences.

Is there more we don’t know?

The club has become relatively quiet on the injury front — for instance, not reporting that Justen Glad was going to be out, while his own dad tweeted about it — and I wouldn’t rule anything out at this point. Whatever the case, I’m not going to pretend I have 100 percent knowledge here.

Would this lineup work?

I actually think so. Tate Schmitt getting a start would be cool to see, but I do wonder where he’d play. Frankly, three of the front four I have above could play up top — Saucedo is the lone exception, and while I think he might be able to in some lineups, our current tactical arrangement isn’t that.

This also gets Brooks Lennon further into the attack, which, for me, is a much better spot for him. It also gets Tony Beltran back in the lineup, the prospect of which I’m very excited about.

So, yeah. I think this could work. But I also recognize that I’m working with imperfect information here, and there’s not much I can do about that.