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What we’re watching in Real Salt Lake vs. Atlanta United FC

Real Salt Lake are home for the second week in a row, this time hosting the MLS Cup Champions 

MLS: Real Salt Lake at Atlanta United FC Adam Hagy -USA TODAY Sports

Things are looking good for Real Salt Lake. They’ve won their last two games and managed to score six goals in those games. However, Atlanta United are coming to town and they are a tough test for any team in MLS. These two sides have only met twice in the past, once in 2017 and again in 2018. Atlanta took all three points in both of those meetings. Can RSL keep their winning ways going against the champs?

Sam Johnson

Striker Sam Johnson was late for a team meeting and was then relegated to the bench last game. It’s a fair response from the coaching staff, and at this point perhaps too much has been said about it. Johnson is likely to return to the starting XI, or at least see time as a sub. However, a 3-0 win without him may jeopardize his starting spot.

Johnson starting is the biggest personal question for this game, so keep an eye on the starting XI. If Johnson starts, does he show more hunger than usual (if possible), or is confidence shaken?

Possession

Mike Petke told RSL Soapbox that the team is feeling good coming off the Toronto match, and he highlighted Atlanta’s possession game and commitment to getting back into their defensive shape. MLSSoccer.com noted Petke, along with Bofo and Glad, were quick to point out Atlanta’s possession based play. Petke noted that his former team, the New York Red Bulls, were able to win against Atlanta by catching them in transition. RSL is clearly preparing to face a team with more possession. I’m curious to see how they deal with that and if it comes together. My guess is they’ll look to absorb pressure and hit Atlanta on the counter. Will it work?

Confidence

An away win against a bad Rapids team was a good step for RSL. A home win and clean sheet against Toronto is a fantastic result and could point to real growth. Mike Petke said the team was feeling, “good, confident but not too confident.” Bofo Saucedo’s comments after last week’s game also pointed to a real belief that the team has in themselves to get big results. What does that self believe and confidence look like against a team that very recently won MLS Cup?

Injury Report

OUT:

Allen (knee 6/16/17; Season

Ending)

Beltran (knee 3/15/19)

QUESTIONABLE:

Beckerman (hamstring 5/2/19)

Predicted Lineup