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What we’re watching in Real Salt Lake vs. Sporting Kansas City

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RSL play their biggest rival with a chance to advance out of the group

MLS: New York Red Bulls at Real Salt Lake Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

Real Salt Lake have a lot on the line for this game, namely, advancing out of their group for the MLS Is Back tournament. They won their first game, and drew their second to place them atop of group D, but they could still miss out on advancement altogether. They’re on 4 points, ahead of Minnesota United also on 4, with RSL taking the edge with a +2 goal difference over United’s +1. Sporting Kansas City are in third with 3 points, and the Colorado Rapids are 4th with no points. This means if RSL win over SKC, they’re through.

Zac Mac and the backline

Real Salt Lake have yet to concede a goal since MLS resumed play. RSL newcomer Zac MacMath has been quietly good in goal. He’s only conceded one goal in 2020 since taking up Rimando’s old post. Much of that credit must also go to the players right in front of him. Justen Glad and Marcelo Silva have shown what a strong pairing they are. Herrera and Toia as the outside backs have also contributed to both sides of the ball. In an important game like this, will head coach Freddy Juarez play his best backline or will he feel a need to rest?

An early kickoff

Despite what RSL Show host Jake Simons says, not everyone is awake at 7am. And that’s when this game kicks off. For those of us like have gotten used to working from home and taking those valuable commuting minutes and allocating them towards more sleep, this game is a bit on the early side. But for players, they are up hours before this game starts. It’s a challenge that exists for both RSL and SKC, but I’m curious to see if that has any obvious affect on the game. At least it will be slightly cooler in Orlando.

No Rusnak

Albert Rusnak left the game midway through the first half on RSL’s game against Minnesota. He’s listed as out on this week’s injury report with a hip injury. He’s one of the most talented players for Real, though given to inconstancy. This opens up a few possibilities with him out of the 18. Will Rossi get a start and play in a creative attacking role? Will Damir be back at the 10 with Meram and Baird on the wings? There are a lot of options. Albert’s injury means Freddy will have to try something new.

Injury report

OUT:
CHRISTOPHER GARCIA (NON SOCCER INJURY)
DAVID OCHOA (RIGHT THUMB)
ALBERT RUSNAK (LEFT HIP)

UNAVAILABLE:
NEDUM ONUOHA

Predicted lineup