October 23rd, 2019 seems like it was a lifetime ago. That was the last time we saw Real Salt Lake play and so much has changed since. The biggest change is the brand new attacking trio in Rossi, Meram, and Ramírez. Orlando City SC have undergone a fair bit of change themselves, but their two star strikers in Nani and Dom Dwyer will both miss this match. Can a much-revised RSL get a result on the road on opening day?
Rossi and Meram
Giuseppe Rossi and Justin Meram are two massive signings for the team. They’re each over 30, and in a way, this serves as a second shot for both, but more so Rossi. Giuseppe is by far the more famous of the two and by far more injury prone. I don’t quite expect Rossi to start, but if he does that would be delightful. We saw some fantastic interplay between Rossi and Meram in preseason, and if we get to watch that on the opening day, it would be pretty incredible.
I expect Rossi to come in during the second half, but Meram should start. The left winger will be returning to Orlando City, where he once played and is thoroughly disliked. Will the displeasure of the Orlando fans provide him with some extra energy to fight for goals?
Let’s see what RSL’s big signings can do this season.
Everton Luiz is on a red card suspension from RSL’s playoff game in Seattle, so he’s out. Kyle Beckerman left the last preseason game with an injury, but did not appear on this week’s injury report. It’s rare to see Beckerman not start, but the RSL legend is a year older and possibly not 100% fit. Midfielder Luke Mulholland is rumored to be injured as well, but was not listed on the injury report.
We could see a midfield of Besler and Kreilach as the 2 in RSL’s 4-2-3-1 system. Besler hasn’t seen MLS minutes since early in 2019 but he impressed in his midfield role, especially when contrasted as a center back under former head coach Mike Petke.
We may also have Justin Portillo or Pablo Ruiz in the midfield. Those two are shakier than Besler or Kreilach, but there is always the chance Kreilach plays further up the field. Kreilach is at his best when he’s in the midfield and that’s something that’s happened far too infrequently.
Death by defense
What hasn’t changed for RSL is the backline. The additions of Ashtone Morgan and Alvin Jones are backups and probably won’t break into the starting 11 just yet. This means we have Toia, Glad, Onuoha, and Herrera in defense. That’s a solid four that all know how to play either positions and play with one another well.
However, we did see Glad play at right back and Herrera play as the right wing in the final game of preseason. That did not work, even with Glad having played that position for the USYNT. Herrera simply isn’t effective as an attacker despite being a phenomenal right back; he’s the reverse Brooks Lennon in that regard.
For the first time 2007 we have competition at goalkeeper. Nick Rimando was never going to be displayed and rightly so, but now Real have three keepers who all have a shot at starting. Will Ochoa, Putna, or MacMath get the start against Orlando?
Out: Sam Johnson
This probably isn’t accurate, but it’s what I would like to see against Orlando.