Real Salt Lake are in a bad run of form. They’re below the playoff line and have lost their last two games. One win could put them into the playoff spots, depending on other results. The Vancouver Whitecaps have been worse than RSL and have lost their last four games. They’re the only team not to draw a game in 2020 within the league, having either won (five wins between the regular season and MLS Is Back) or lost (11). This is a crucial game for both teams if they want to keep their playoff hopes alive.
Away to Vancouver, in Portland
One of the most fascinating aspects of this game is that it is considered a home game for the Whitecaps, but they’re using former baseball field Providence Park (home of the Portland Timbers) as their home ground. This is due to travel restrictions between the US and Canada due the COVID-19. This surely takes away any home field advantage for the Whitecaps, and while Providence Park doesn’t give RSL any special edge, it makes this a neutral ground. Will that be enough to help RSL get all three points?
Better attack needed
RSL’s attack was entirely lacking in their last game, a 2-1 loss to the Seattle Sounders. Without either Albert Rusnak or Damir Kreilach, there was little creative spark. Center forward Sam Johnson didn’t get much service, but he also wasn’t clinical when he had the ball. At his best, Johnson is extremely lethal, as we saw last year, but he felt lost in this game. Unfortunately so did Corey Baird and substitute Douglas Martínez.
RSL’s attack lacks an identity and they have precious few games to figure it out. The Whitecaps, who have a -19 goal difference, could be the perfect opponent to find some success.
The Ochoa question
Young David Ochoa has been touted as the future of goal keeping at RSL, perhaps even for the USMNT. He’s found success with the Monarchs, having won the USL Championship in 2019, and with US soccer at the youth level. Andrew Putna is a serviceable keeper, and similar to players like Luke Mulholland, he’s somewhere between the USL and MLS levels. Zac MacMath seems to have fallen out of favor entirely after some very poor performances. David Ochoa should get the start. He’s proven himself capable at the USL level and neither MacMath nor Putna have things as locked down as Rimando ever did. This could be the perfect time for him, but with the team fighting for a playoff spot, that’s a big responsibility for a 19 year old.
Everton Luiz (M) - undisclosed injury
Giuseppe Rossi (F) - undisclosed injury
Chris Garcia (F) - undisclosed injury
Nedum Onuoha (D) - undisclosed injury