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What we’re watching in Seattle Sounders vs. Real Salt Lake

RSL head to Seattle to take on a very good Sounders squad 

Lucas Muller | RSL Soapbox

Boy oh boy, Real Salt Lake are back! After four days or so since their 3-1 loss to LAFC at Rio Tinto Stadium, the team travels to Seattle to take on the western conference leaders. The Sounders have only lost one in their last five games, with the other four being wins, and RSL have won just one of their last five matches. Real have had luck on to road in Seattle in the past, but without players like Rusnak, Luiz, and Onuoha, can they find any success tonight?

The middle

The main complaint about Albert Rusnak seems to be that he isn’t living up to his potential. As RSL’s highest ever paid player, he also comes with high expectations. At times, those expectations have been met, but not consistently. He is currently away with his national team for Euro qualifiers, which is a huge honor for any player. Against LAFC, Corey Baird was supposed to replace Rusnak, but he pushed out much wider than what we generally see from Albert. It may make more sense to play Kreilach at the 10, with Corey being the center forward, but that leaves a vacuum in the midfield that will be lacking without Everton.

Pablo Ruiz has been a bright spot for RSL this season, but he can’t anchor the midfield alone. The question for tonight’s game is if Krielach will be at the 8 or 10. If he’s at the 10, where he’s probably needed more, then who pairs with Ruiz? We could see Besler get a start. With both Rusnak and Everton out, Freddy is going to have to get creative.

The defense

Justen Glad is back! As he returns, Nedum Onuoha is still injured. Erik Holt had a poor showing at center back against LAFC, and since Marcelo Silva did score RSL’s only goal of that game, we will see the Glad/SIlva pairing on the backline. Silva is a half-step down from Onuoha, but is still a good player, even if he makes the occasional mistake.

This could also be the chance David Ochoa gets for an RSL start. He hasn’t played with the Monarchs for more than the mandatory quarantine period. With MacMath out of favor, and Putna having mixed results, why not give Ochoa a game?

Coaching choices

Real Salt Lake, or rather Utah Soccer Holdings LLC, is for sale. Everyone in leadership positions within the org should be feeling some pressure to prove their worth to whoever the new owner is. For Freddy Juarez, is he doing everything he can to maximize this squad? Granted, Dell Loy Hansen did not always help maximize the roster, so from Freddy’s perspective, his team may not be exactly how he wants is.

The things I’m most interested in is if he’s maximizing player selection to balance results and development for the many young players on the team. Is he using all five available substitutions to help ready those kids for next season? Is he able to manage the bigger players on the team and ensure that the whole squad is happy? Juarez is a new head coach within the league, so he’s figuring a lot out as he goes, even if he has had great experience in the past to get to this place, but is he proving to the next owner that he should remain as head coach?

Injury report

Not medically cleared to play:

Giuseppe Rossi
Everton Luiz
Nedum Onuoha
Chris Garcia

Predicted lineup