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Match preview: After domination in Colorado, RSL returns home to host LAFC

LAFC, without Carlos Vela who is out with an MCL injury, travels to Rio Tinto Stadium to take on the hosts Real Salt Lake in regular season play.

MLS: Real Salt Lake at Colorado Rapids Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Still riding high off their 4-1 victory over the Colorado Rapids last weekend, Real Salt Lake returns home to play host to Los Angeles FC, who just suffered a 2-0 defeat at the hands of hometown rivals LA Galaxy.

Though the history between these two sides is thin, LAFC has won both outings at Rio Tinto Stadium. In their second-ever match in MLS play, they stunned the home crowd in Sandy with a 5-1 win, while following up with a 2-0 win in their second Utah visit.

However, nobody can forget the shocking 3-2 win RSL put down on LAFC in the playoffs at Banc of California Stadium back in 2018, ousting the home side in their first-ever playoff game and cutting their run mighty short.

Real Salt Lake

Record: 2-1-3 (9 points)
Table: 6th place (west)
Points per game: 1.50
Most goals: Damir Kreilach (3)
Most assists: Maikel Chang (2), Corey Baird (2)
Clean sheets: 3

MLS: Real Salt Lake at Colorado Rapids Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

While RSL was able to come back from a 1-0 deficit while banging in four unanswered goals in the second half against Colorado, a new young star took the reins in the form of Maikel Chang.

Chang, who finished with one goal and two assists, was subbed on at halftime as Everton Luiz’s night came to a close. With the explosive energy RSL was looking for, he helped spur the visitors to an overwhelming 4-1 victory by scoring the second goal and assisting on the final two goals scored by Corey Baird and Justin Meram.

While pulling Luiz off and bringing in Chang forced some players to shift positions, it also helped them get into a more natural rhythm and execute on the ball better. “We were just giving away the possession with maybe the pass that we didn’t want to give. That was the biggest change in the second half — just being a little more aggressive with the pass,” said head coach Freddy Juarez.

Whether he’ll field a different lineup against LAFC after seeing what effects those adjustments had remains to be seen.

Los Angeles FC

Record: 2-1-3 (9 points)
Table: 5th place (west)
Points per game: 1.50
Most goals: Diego Rossi (6)
Most assists: Latif Blessing (4)
Clean sheets: 1

MLS: Seattle Sounders vs LAFC Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

After Diego Rossi lit up the MLS is Back tournament — scoring four goals alone in their group stage match against the Galaxy — LAFC will look to bounce back and continue that momentum through to the rest of the regular season. They got off to a rocky start as they lost their first game back with a 2-0 defeat against the LA Galaxy, giving the Galaxy their first-ever win at Banc of California Stadium.

On top of the pain of the loss, LAFC star Carlos Vela came out of the game early in the second half with what turned out to be a grade two MCL injury. Vela is out indefinitely as there is no timetable for his return with such a serious injury.

This was Vela’s first game back since March as he opted out of the MLS is Back tournament to stay home with his pregnant wife. This is a huge blow to LAFC, who were itching to get Vela back on the field after navigating the restart in Orlando without him.

That being said, they still have plenty of firepower in the likes of Diego Rossi, Bradley Wright-Phillips, and Brian Rodriguez. They’ll likely have to figure out how to get through the rest of the season without Vela.

This match marks the first RSL home game at Rio Tinto Stadium since the 1-1 draw against the New York Red Bulls back on March 7th, just days before the MLS season was suspended due to COVID-19. RSL is one of just a few teams in the league allowing a limited number of fans in on game day.

Match info

When: Wednesday, August 26, 2020, 7:30PM MT

Where: Rio Tinto Stadium — Sandy, UT

Weather: 89 degrees, clear

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