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Match preview: RSL hosts New York Red Bulls in home opener

Real Salt Lake will play host to Eastern Conference foes New York Red Bulls in their 2020 home opener this weekend.

Aaron Herrera (22) of Real Salt Lake controls ball during... Photo by Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

Real Salt Lake will play their first home game of the season as the New York Red Bulls come to town looking for a road result. Fresh off a road result of their own as RSL earned a point in a 0-0 draw with Orlando City last week, they’ll look to take all three points against an Eastern Conference side that gave up two goals in their season opener.

Historically, RSL holds the edge over the Red Bulls with seven wins, six losses, and seven draws between the two sides in the MLS regular season dating all the way back to 2006. They also met once in the playoffs, when New York ended RSL’s first-ever playoff run in the Eastern Conference Finals with a 1-0 win.

The last time they met, the Red Bulls got away with a giant 4-0 win, thanks to goals from Daniel Royer, Michael Murillo, Omir Fernandez, and an own goal from RSL defender Marcelo Silva.

Note that the home team has won all of the previous five contests between these sides, with the exception of a 0-0 draw at Red Bull Arena in 2017.

Real Salt Lake

Record: 0-0-1 (1 point)
Table: 10th place (west)
Points per game: 1.00
Most goals: N/A
Most assists: N/A
Form: WWWLD

SOCCER: FEB 29 MLS - Orlando City SC v Real Salt Lake

After a lackluster first half in Orlando, when OCSC brought the heat without their two best players in Nani and Dom Dwyer, RSL bounced back in the second half to hold their own and create some chances along the way. Freddy Juarez opted to start Justen Glad at right back like we had seen earlier in preseason, while he pushed Aaron Herrera further up on the right wing. RSL logged a total of five shots with one on frame through the 90 minutes, but held on for a 0-0 draw as Zac MacMath earned his first-ever clean sheet in an RSL uniform with two saves on the night.

Questions arise this week surrounding whether we’ll see new Young DP signing Jeizon Ramirez make his debut as he officially arrived in Salt Lake City last week after dealing with some apparent passport issues. RSL released photos of him in his full uniform during the week, donning the number 28. If he does get the start, chances are we’ll see Herrera pushed back to his normal right back spot, and Glad back into central defense.

We also didn’t see Justin Meram or Giuseppe Rossi earn starting spots in Orlando, although both of them came on as substitutes later in the game. Whether we’ll see either of them in the starting lineup remains to be seen.

Sam Johnson is still recovering from surgery he had during the offseason, so if Rossi doesn’t get the start up top, it’s likely we’ll see either Damir Kreilach or Corey Baird start in central attack, since Freddy has a couple different options while Johnson is on the road to recovery.

This week will also see the return of Everton Luiz after he served his one-game suspension in Orlando for a red card he received in last season’s final contest against Seattle.

RSL has been notoriously good at home, and with 12 wins at Rio Tinto Stadium last season, they’ll look to continue that dominance into this season, starting with this weekend.

Absences

OUT:
Sam Johnson (knee)

QUESTIONABLE:
-none-

Projected lineup

MacMath; Herrera, Glad, Onuoha, Toia; Kreilach, Luiz; Ramirez, Rusnak, Meram; Baird

New York Red Bulls

Record: 1-0-0 (3 points)
Table: 1st place (east)
Points per game: 3.00
Most goals: Kyle Duncan (1), Daniel Royer (1), Kaku (1)
Most assists: Florian Valot (2), Kyle Duncan (2)
Form: WDLLW

SOCCER: MAR 01 MLS - New York Red Bulls v FC Cincinnati Photo by John Jones/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Red Bulls, surprisingly led by Kyle Duncan last week who had one goal and two assists, started off the season with a 3-2 win over Eastern Conference foes FC Cincinnati. Daniel Royer and Kaku also added a goal each, while Florian Valot was credited with two assists as well.

New York looks to be a dangerous team after week one, even with the loss of prolific scorer Bradley Wright-Phillips, who now plays for Los Angeles FC.

Florian Valot, who missed the last two seasons with a torn ACL, looks to be a good attacking option for the Red Bulls as they look to grab their second win on the season as they visit Rio Tinto Stadium. It won’t be easy, though, as RSL’s defense looked to hold together last week and will likely only be stronger this week in their home opener.

Defender Aaron Long missed the season opener due to injury, but is listed as probable on the injury report, so it remains to be seen whether he’ll make his 2020 debut this weekend or not.

Absences

OUT:
-none-

PROBABLE:
Aaron Long (hamstring), Ryan Meara (groin)

Projected lineup

Jensen; Duncan, Parker, Tarek, Seagrist; Valot, Davis, Casseres Jr, Kaku; White, Royer


Match info

When: Saturday, March 7, 12:00PM MT

Where: Rio Tinto Stadium — Sandy, UT

Weather: 59 degrees, cloudy

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