The last two weeks were not great for Real Salt Lake. The DC United game was an unmitigated disaster; a 5-0 loss that saw RSL earn two red cards. The LAFC match had a lot of positives and Real Salt Lake were so close to a point on the road, but fell 2-1 with a late red card then stoppage time goal. FC Dallas have 7 points from 4 games (2-1-1) and RSL have 4 points in 4 games (1-2-1). This week, Real return home and hope come out with all three points.
In many ways the LAFC game was a success. Certain LA players were saying they would win 5-1, and that didn’t feel outside the realm of possibility. However, the team preformed well throughout much of that match. They set a record for most home grown players to start an MLS game (six). The biggest improvement was the back line. Erik Holt impressed the most of the newcomers. Tate Schmitt was serviceable in the attack, but did not really deliver, though he shows promise.
What really made the difference was having Savarino out. His absence allowed Lennon to play on the right wing, which then Brough Herrera over to the right back position (his preferred side), and Toia slotted in on the left (his preferred side). Those subtle backline changes helped RSL weather much of the LAFC storm, and if not for that late goal, would’ve provided a major point on the road. This should call into question who has been starting. Did any of these new comers do enough to challenge for a starting spot? If anyone did, it was Holt and Toia, but Silva is the better player over Holt, and Petke’s trust in Lennon likely means we see him return to right back.
Bofo also made a strong case for himself to start, but with Kreilach at the 10 and Rusnak on the wing lately, it’ll be tough for the academy product to break in. With Corey Baird returning from a start with the US Men’s National Team, it’ll be a fight for any attacking places.
It was evident in the District that RSL were not in control of the game, at least not much past the half hour mark. Two players received red in that game, as did one in LA. Is RSL a team that lacks composure? Everton has been an incredible addition to the squad, but the guy is a destroyer and already has 3 yellow cards in 4 games. A key to RSL beating a good FC Dallas will be to keep calm and remain in control. Not just control of the game, but each player of themselves.
Real’s attack has simply not been good in 2019. Not a ton has changed up top since 2018, where the attack was a threat. Baird and Rusnak are seeing time with their national teams, as is newcomer Sam Johnson. Bofo has demonstrated his value on the field. Savarino has yet to have a goal or assist this season, but is a massive talent. The question then becomes, now only who plays on the wings, but how do the set themselves apart in that position? Center forward is still up in the air a bit, but assuming Johnson gets settled, much will depend on his relationship to those around him. Plata’s injury simplifies selection, but there’s a lot of talent on a very similar level in RSL’s attack at present.
Allen (knee 6/16/17; Season Ending)
Glad (toe; 2/28/19)
Plata (ankle; 3/17/19)
Beltran (knee, 3/15/19)
(Baird could start pretty much anywhere in the attack as well)