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Match preview: RSL hosts FC Dallas with playoffs in sight

With only four games left in the season, RSL hopes to jump above the red line with a win over Dallas. They’ll need some help from the Vancouver-San Jose matchup as well if they want to leap into playoff contention this weekend.

MLS: Real Salt Lake at FC Dallas Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Real Salt Lake, after a full 10 days off since their last match, will take to the field as they face off against FC Dallas for the first time this season. With a win finally under their belt as they beat the Portland Timbers 2-1 to snap a four-game winless skid, RSL will hope to build on that encouraging play and earn a full three points against Dallas with a whole squad full of fresh legs.

RSL hasn’t beat Dallas since 2018 when they were able to get a 2-0 victory at home. Since then, they’ve lost one and tied one with the Hoops but will hope to get back on top after this weekend.

Real Salt Lake

Record: 5-7-6 (21 points)
Table: 9th place (west)
Points per game: 1.17
Most goals: Damir Kreilach (8)
Most assists: Maikel Chang (5)
Clean sheets: 6
Form: DLLLW

With only four games left in the regular season — possibly five, depending on if last weekend’s postponed match against Colorado is able to be rescheduled — it’s down to crunch time as Real Salt Lake sits just below the playoff line. They’re tied on points with 8th-place Vancouver, but the ‘Caps have two more wins so they sit ahead on that tiebreaker. An RSL win combined with a Vancouver loss or draw will see RSL jump ahead just above the redline as we approach the playoffs. Of course, depending on other results around the league, they could potentially jump as high as 5th place, though that would require a pretty hefty haul in goal differential. But 7th or 6th place wouldn’t be completely out of the question after the weekend is through.

They earned a huge win against the red-hot Timbers in their last game thanks to two first-half goals from Douglas Martinez and Damir Kreilach. A solid defense was able to hold Portland to only one goal through the rest of the game, giving the home side a much-needed three points.

This weekend could see the return of Albert Rusnak after being away on international duty with Slovakia for the UEFA Nations League. It’s not a certain start for him, though, as the 10-day quarantine rule upon returning to the states would put him available within a few hours of kickoff tonight. So while he’s expected to be available tonight, anything could happen with his status.

After the Dallas match, RSL will head out on the road to take on San Jose and the Los Angeles Galaxy, then will return home to host Sporting Kansas City in the regular season closer on November 8th. If the postponed Colorado game were to be rescheduled, it would likely be a midweek game in between LA (November 1st) and SKC. The Rapids have multiple postponed games to make up, though, so it’s yet to be seen how the league will handle that situation.

Absences

OUT: Giuseppe Rossi (undisclosed injury), Chris Garcia (undisclosed injury), Sam Johnson (temporary team suspension)

Projected Lineup

Putna; Herrera, Glad, Onuoha, Toia; Everton, Ruiz; Chang, Rusnak, Baird; Kreilach

FC Dallas

Record: 6-5-6 (24 points)
Table: 6th place (west)
Points per game: 1.41
Most goals: Franco Jara (5)
Most assists: Michael Barrios (3)
Clean sheets: 5
Form: DDLWL

Dallas is coming off a loss to Nashville SC earlier in the week as the expansion side took down the Hoops with a score of 3-0, thanks to two late goals within the last 20 minutes. Leading scorer Franco Jara has now gone six straight games without scoring a goal, and it seems Dallas is having a tough time figuring out where more goals will come from.

On top of that, youngster Paxton Pomykal is out for the rest of the season after he underwent surgery in early September, so that hasn’t helped the case for the Hoops either.

If Dallas wants to stay in playoff contention, they’re going to have to find a way to get a couple victories throughout this last stretch of games. They’re only three points clear of the red line, and there are plenty of teams below them who are well within reach of qualifying before the season is done.

Absences

OUT: Paxton Pomykal (hip, out for season), Santiago Mosquera (undisclosed injury), Bryan Acosta (undisclosed injury)

Projected Lineup

Maurer; Reynolds, Bressan, Ziegler, Hollingshead; Tessman, Santos; Barrios, Ricaurte, Picault; Jara


Match info

When: Saturday, October 24, 7:30PM MT

Where: Rio Tinto Stadium — Sandy, UT

Weather: 54 degrees, cloudy

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