Real Salt Lake are in an interesting spot — head coach Mike Petke has been suspended and that has been the major talking point around the club for the last week. The team’s results have been mixed. They’ve drawn their last two league games, lost their only Leagues Cup game, and are without a head coach for the moment. New York City FC are playing very well this season. They have a number of games in hand and have the second best points per game of any team, with only LAFC ahead of them. RSL has been a strong home team but with Freddy Juarez at the helm, it will be interesting to see what changes.
As I said, much of the discussion about RSL has centered around Mike Petke and his outburst after the Leagues Cup against Tigres. You probably have an opinion about that by now and I don’t have any interest in going into that here. What does interest me is Freddy Juarez and his approach to the game. RSL suspended Petke from any contact with the team for two weeks, which should mean that Freddy is calling all the shots in training, the tactics used, and how the game is run. That’s a really interesting prospect. He’s taken charge during games before, but that level of control from an assistant has never happened in RSL history.
If you’re looking for one thing to watch on this, I’m sorry, but you’ll need to watch basically everything. How is the game run, are the players in different positions, are they doing anything differently on the field, what are the substitution patterns, what’s Freddy’s body language like on the sideline, etc., etc. Tonight should be fascinating.
Rusnak and the attack
The team was without Albert Rusnak against Dallas. A draw in Dallas in July is a good accomplishment. Rusnak is listed as probable in this week’s injury report. Damir Kreilach stepped into the attacking midfield role last week, where he is a decent Rusnak-replacement, but it’s a different look in the attack.
If Rusnak is to return, NYCFC would be a good time for him to help. But it’s not worth the risk if the could be out longer. Without him, the team isn’t as good as they could be. It seems most likely to me that Rusnak does not start, though I think he makes the 18 and seems minutes in the 2nd half of the game. RSL had some good chances in Texas, but if they’re going to get all three points, they’ll need improve their finishing.
NYCFC have conceded 24 goals in 2019. The only team with fewer goals allowed is LAFC, who seem to be the best at everything this season. RSL’s attack will need to be at their absolute best if they’re going to get a goal. There’s a strong likelihood that they could need more than one in order to beat New York.
Allen (knee 6/16/17; Season
Beltran (knee; 3/15/19)
Johnson (quad; 7/3/19)
Onuoha (adductor; 7/3/19)
Rusnák (knee; 7/20/10)