Real Salt Lake are back and facing Minnesota United FC. Real have fallen to Minnesota three times, drawn twice, and beaten the MLS youngsters just once. MNUFC defeated Sporting Kansas City 2-1 on Sunday, equalizing through an own goal in the 92nd minute and finding the winner in the 97th minute. Minnesota a team that has always given RSL trouble, but a win gives Real a great chance to advance out of the group.
Dougie Fresh, Sammy J., and Pepito
Real has exciting attacking options in Sam Johnson, Douglas Martinez, and Giuseppe Rossi. They’re all center forwards, yet each play the position very differently. It was a huge plus that they all played minutes in RSL’s last game, though Rossi and Johnson’s minutes were fairly limited. We should see more of both players in this game, even if Martinez starts again. Neither Rossi nor Johnson were particularly influential in their last game, but their minutes on Sunday could be a good sign for a more time and, hopefully, more impact in this game. At some point, we should see Pepito start.He’s the biggest name to ever play for Real Salt Lake, but it’s not clear if he still has the ability he possessed when he was younger.
Orlando in mid July is brutal. The heat and humidity after months of not playing will take a toll on the players. How much of a toll remains to be seen, but one early indiction would be who is rotated out for this match. Captain Kyle Beckerman was the first player subbed out in the last match, and he appeared to be cramping up pretty badly. He may be a player that could use extra rest.
If Real win this, they’re in good shape to advance out of the group stage. Player selection will be very telling for head coach Freddy Juarez’s trust in his best XI vs. the depth of the team and need for rest. RSL played on Sunday, so a Friday game is a short turnaround and we’re likely to see some big changes.
Real Salt Lake were a little rusty in their first game of the MLS Is Back tournament. Errant passes, lack of fitness, and poor movement were all factors, but they were still miles ahead of Colorado. Watch to see what improves over that first game. Two games in won’t make a massive different for some of those things, but they should regain some of the sharpness lost after months of no play.
CHRISTOPHER GARCIA (NON SOCCER INJURY)
DAVID OCHOA (RIGHT THUMB)