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Match preview: Real Salt Lake hosts Michael Bradley and Toronto FC

RSL plays host to Toronto FC, who is winless in their last three straight. It won’t be easy especially with their new start DP Alejandro Pozuelo who’s made a huge difference in TFC’s attack since Sebastian Giovinco left.

MLS: D.C. United at Toronto FC Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

After a wildly entertaining 3-2 win on the road in Colorado last week, Real Salt Lake returns to Rio Tinto Stadium for two home games in a row. First up will be Toronto FC, who are currently riding a three-game winless streak.

Series history

These two sides have met 17 times throughout their MLS history, with RSL boasting a record of 8W-6L-3D dating back to 2007 when Toronto FC officially entered the league as an expansion team. Unfortunately, RSL hasn’t notched a win against TFC since 2015 when they secured a 2-1 victory at home.

Since then, Toronto has won two and drawn one against RSL, the most recent game coming in March of last year when TFC won easily by a score of 3-1, thanks to a brace from Jozy Altidore and a late stoppage time goal from Tosaint Ricketts.

Real Salt Lake

Record: 4-6-1 (13 points)
Table: 7th place (west)
Points per game: 1.18
Most goals: Albert Rusnak (5)
Most assists: Corey Baird (2), Nick Besler (2)
Clean sheets: 2
Form: WWLLW

MLS: Real Salt Lake at Colorado Rapids Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Fresh off their wild 3-2 win in Colorado, Real Salt Lake looks to grab three more points at home to make it two in a row, as they sit just two points behind sixth-place Minnesota United. RSL has split their four home games so far this season, with two wins and two losses under their belt.

RSL’s newest DP striker Sam Johnson seems to be finding his form, as he’s scored four goals in the last five games giving Real Salt Lake the extra attacking boost they’ve been looking for. Despite his recent post-game comments indicating that he’s unhappy with how things are going for him on his new team, we’re seeing him make a lot of great runs toward goal, and we know he can finish his chances once he gets in the right spot.

Last week saw Bofo Saucedo get the start over Jefferson Savarino, and he came out to impress. With rumors of Joao Plata’s looming exit swirling around, that certainly would free up some room in the already crowded winger pool, and maybe give Bofo more opportunities to get onto the field. It seems that Brooks Lennon is back in line for his natural attacking position as well, since Donny Toia has been solid at left back, pushing Aaron Herrera to the right back position where Lennon held his ground for a long time.

As for injuries, it looks like Kyle Beckerman is listed as doubtful, so it’s probably safe to say we won’t be seeing him on the field this weekend. Both Everton Luiz and Nick Rimando, however, are listed as probable, so there’s a possibility we could see both of their returns against Toronto. Andrew Putna has done an outstanding job in Rimando’s absence, notching one clean sheet, one saved penalty, and nine saves overall in just four games.

Absences

OUT: Jordan Allen (knee; out for season), Tony Beltran (knee)
DOUBTFUL: Kyle Beckerman (hamstring)
PROBABLE: Everton Luiz (knee), Nick Rimando (knee)

Projected lineup

Putna; Herrera, Onuoha, Glad, Toia; Besler, Kreilach; Savarino, Rusnak, Baird; Johnson

Toronto FC

Record: 5-4-2 (17 points)
Table: 6th place (east)
Points per game: 1.55
Most goals: Jozy Altidore (5), Alejandro Pozuelo (5)
Most assists: Alejandro Pozuelo (6)
Clean sheets: 3
Form: LWLLD

MLS: D.C. United at Toronto FC Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Although in the midst of a three-game winless skid, Toronto FC is still very much in the picture for the eastern conference, sitting just seven points behind first-place DC United. Sure, Michael Bradley may be the captain and the face of the team, but to be honest, TFC can attribute a large part of their success this season to their newest DP signing Alejandro Pozuelo, who has helped fill the void left by Sebastian Giovinco.

Pozuelo made an immediate impact for the Reds, making his first appearance at the end of March, playing 79 minutes and notching two goals and one assist in TFC’s 4-0 victory over NYCFC. Through only eight games, the Spanish midfielder has tallied five goals, six assists, and 24 shots overall, proving he’s the piece they were looking for to help out their attacking play.

Toronto is coming off a midweek 0-0 draw at home against DC United in which they logged 36 total shots (13 on target) while holding their opponents to only three shots overall. Heading to Rio Tinto Stadium to play their third match in eight days — and their fifth in 15 days — will likely see some tired legs on the field.

Jozy Altidore, who has missed the majority of the last five games aside from 18 minutes in their 2-1 loss to Philadelphia on May 11th, is listed as questionable but made the trip to Utah with the team, so whether or not TFC will be able to use him on the field this weekend remains to be seen.

Absences

OUT: none
DOUBTFUL: Laurent Ciman (ankle)
QUESTIONABLE: Jozy Altidore (heel)
PROBABLE: Auro (back)

Projected lineup

Westberg; Zavaleta, Moor, Mavinga; Auro, Delgado, Bradley, Osorio, DeLeon; Pozuelo; Hamilton


Match info

When: Saturday, May 18, 2019, 1:00PM MT

Where: Rio Tinto Stadium — Sandy, UT

Weather: 52 degrees, mostly cloudy

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

Referee: Joe Dickerson