The last time Real Salt Lake hosted Toronto FC, Toronto had just been to an MLS final and would go on to win MLS Cup later that season. It was the third to last RSL game Jeff Cassar would oversee, and the 0-0 result wasn’t bad given how good Toronto were at the time. Much has changed for both teams since. We’re well into the Mike Petke era and Toronto is well out of the unstoppable force era of 2016-2017.
New wings, young wings
Corey Baird and Bofo Saucedo both played very well on the wings last weekend. For the time being, it looks like they’ve supplanted Joao Plata and Jefferson Savarino, which is both shocking and exciting. Plata and Sava are solid players, without a doubt, but seeing two RSL Academy products playing this well is a huge validation of the entire organization.
It’s odd seeing Plata on the field less. He’s been a massive part of the club for the past 5 or 6 years. And now rumors abound of a possible departure for Liga MX. Real Salt Lake seem to be preparing themselves for that departure, or perhaps RSL’s recent shift towards Baird, Bofo, and Savarino has caused Plata to look for other teams. It seems likely that if Plata doesn’t start, he’ll sub on. He’s healthy, even if he hasn’t really been produced much on the field this season. I’m very curious if he’s made up his mind on staying or leaving. Is he playing to impress potential suitors, is he playing to regain his starting spot, or is he checked out? No matter what, he’ll be one to watch.
Nick Rimando is in his final year as a goalkeeper. He’s been coming back from injury and is listed as probable on this week’s injury report. He was in full training on Friday and looks likely to return to the starting XI. He played well in training on Friday.
If he does start, how does Nick hold up to a team with good attackers? Punta has played well, so he may be the starting keeper, but it’s certainly an important decision for Mike Petke to make. He did say Rimando was available for selection on Friday.
Jozy, Michael, and the new Giovinco
Sebastian Giovinco left Toronto at the end of last season for sunny Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and he was a huge loss to the team. Toronto then brought in Alejandro Pozuelo to replace him, and he’s done very well. Pozuelo has scored 5 goals in 799 minutes on the field, putting his goals per 90 minutes at 0.56. He’ll be a tough test for RSL’s backline.
US Men’s National Team veterans Jozy Altirdore and Michael Bradley are both still with Canadian club and have been important to the team. Jozy has been battling injury but he’s already landed in Salt Lake with the team and reportedly trained yesterday. If he does play, that’ll be another big test for RSL’s defense.
Allen (knee 6/16/17; Season Ending)
Beltran (knee 3/15/19)
Beckerman (hamstring 5/2/19)
Luiz (knee; 4/13/19)
Rimando (knee; 4/15/19)