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Real Salt Lake vs. Orlando City preview: RSL looks for second win of the season

Real Salt Lake returns home to Utah to host Nani and Orlando City SC, as they’ll look to snap their four-game losing streak.

MLS: Real Salt Lake at Orlando City SC Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Real Salt Lake will look to snap their four-game losing skid when they host Orlando City SC at home this weekend, following a disheartening 1-0 loss on the road in Seattle last week.

Series history

These two sides have only met four times since Orlando’s debut MLS season in 2015, and unfortunately, RSL has never come out with a win. Orlando won two of those meetings while the other two ended in draws.

The last time they met was in May of 2018 in Orlando, when Jason Kreis and his squad came out on top with a 3-1 victory thanks to goals from Dom Dwyer, Lamine Sane, and Yoshi Yotun. Corey Baird opened the scoring in the 12th minute and RSL was able to hold a 1-0 lead until Dwyer’s goal in the 60th, followed by the other two in the 18 minutes following.

That match was just over a month before Kreis would be fired by the club, only to be replaced by the current coach James O’Conner on July 2.

Real Salt Lake

Record: 1-4-1 (4 points)
Table: 8th place (west)
Points per game: 0.67
Most goals: Albert Rusnak (2)
Most assists: Corey Baird (1), Sebastian Saucedo (1), Albert Rusnak (1)
Clean sheets: 1
Form: WLLLL

MLS: Real Salt Lake at Seattle Sounders FC Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

Connect four

Ok, so last week’s 1-0 loss in Seattle made four losses in a row. But listen, RSL hasn’t had a full-strength squad since the 1-0 win at home against Vancouver in week two. Since then, they went down two men in DC, played without over half of their normal starters in the 2-1 loss against LAFC, went down a man in the 4-2 loss against Dallas, and played in Seattle last week without Damir Kreilach. I know nobody likes to make excuses, but this weekend may be the first time we have that full-strength team since March 9th, and we’ll be able to see what RSL can really do when they’re firing on all cylinders.

That’s not to say that RSL is without absences. When I mentioned full strength earlier, that didn’t include Justen Glad, who hasn’t played a minute all season due to his broken toe. But he just played 59 minutes with the Real Monarchs last week and could likely see a return against Orlando, especially since Marcelo Silva will now be out with a hamstring injury. We also haven’t seen Joao Plata since week one when he played 12 minutes. He’s been out with injury as well, but like Glad, saw 59 minutes with the Monarchs last week, but also scored a goal in the 15th minute that was nominated for the USL Goal of the Week.

With both Plata and Glad potentially making the 18 this weekend, RSL will have reinforcements for days, and it’ll likely be tough to choose who starts on the left wing and who starts at center forward.

Consecutive road games

Following this weekend, RSL will play three of its next four matches on the road, as they head to Cincinnati, followed by the LA Galaxy, then a stop back at home to host Portland, then finishing up the stretch in Colorado on May 12th.

Picking up three points against Orlando at home would do wonders, as RSL still sits in eighth place in the west after not picking up any points since March 9th.

Absences

OUT: Jordan Allen (knee; out for season), Marcelo Silva (hamstring), Erik Holt (ankle), Luke Mulholland (back)
PROBABLE: Adam Henley (ankle), Tony Beltran (knee)

Projected lineup

Rimando; Lennon, Onuoha, Glad, Herrera; Beckerman, Luiz; Savarino, Kreilach, Rusnak; Baird

Orlando City SC

Record: 2-2-2 (8 points)
Table: 6th place (east)
Points per game: 1.33
Most goals: Dom Dwyer (3)
Most assists: Nani (4)
Clean sheets: 1
Form: DLWLW

MLS: Colorado Rapids at Orlando City SC Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Nani Dwyer City SC

Coming off a wild 4-3 win against the Colorado Rapids last week, Orlando City will look to climb the rankings and steal three points from RSL in this matchup. Really, though, two guys are doing the brunt of the work: Dom Dwyer and superstar Nani who they signed from Sporting CP in the offseason. Dwyer has tallied three goals and two assists, while Nani has two goals and four assists to his name this season.

Speaking of Nani, many think (myself included, honestly) that he should be suspended for this game after head-butting Kellyn Acosta several times in last week’s game, encompassed by possibly the biggest hissy-fit we’ve seen in years.

Didn’t see the incident? Enjoy below.

Nani felt he was taken down in the box in the 74th minute by Acosta, but the ref felt differently and made no call. Nani then stands up and attempts to head-butt Acosta three different times, but the ref again made no call, showed him no card, and play continued on.

This hits close to home for RSL fans who feel that Kreilach was hard done in the game against Dallas two weeks ago, in which he was shown a red card for a very similar action.

Regardless, no matter how you feel about the play, Nani will be making the trip to Salt Lake after all.

Danny’s return

There’s also a familiar face we’ll all recognize if he gets some playing time as Danilo Acosta was sent to Orlando on a season-long loan. Danny’s made three appearances so far this season, playing the first three games of the year, but hasn’t seen any minutes since March 16th. Will we see him on the field this weekend?

This will also be RSL defender Donny Toia’s first match-up against his old team since he came back to Salt Lake in the offseason. Sure, he’s only made one appearance when the lineup was stretched thin in Los Angeles, but he’s consistently been making the 18 week after week, so it’s definitely possible that he could see the field against his former team as well.

Absences

OUT: Alex De John (hamstring)
QUESTIONABLE: Carlos Ascues (hamstring)

Projected lineup

Rowe; Ascues, Sane, Jansson; Ruan, Mendez, Kljestan, Moutinho; Nani; Akindele, Dwyer


Match info

When: Saturday, April 13, 2019, 7:00PM MT

Where: Rio Tinto Stadium — Sandy, UT

Weather: 57 degrees, clear skies

Broadcast: KMYU, KSL TV app (streaming), ESPN+ (streaming), ESPN700 (radio)

Referee: Chris Penso