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What we’re watching in Real Salt Lake vs. Vancouver Whitecaps

RSL are back after a week to recover from their Rocky Mountain loss

Lucas Muller | RSL Soapbox

Real Salt Lake are coming off their worst ever Rocky Mountain Cup loss, but they’ve had a full week to rest and regroup. The Vancouver Whitecaps beat Canadan rivals Montreal Impact 3-1 just three days ago. The Whitecaps are two points behind RSL in the standings, but both teams are outside the playoff spots, with RSL in 9th and Vancouver in 11th. Each team have been on the poor side of inconsistent, and RSL have only one win in their last five. Will Vancouver’s short rest hinder them or will they have momentum from their last win?

Bouncing back

A 5-0 loss to your oldest rival isn’t an easy pill to swallow. RSL had beaten the Rapids twice before in 2020, but Colorado controlled every minute of that game from the start to the final whistle. It was a total collapse from Real and the in-game issues are almost not worth discussing. What I’m interested in is how the team responds to this game. Does the team possess the mental toughness to see what went wrong last Saturday, adjust, and come out fighting against Vancouver?

Midfield

The Kreilach/Luiz midfield has not been working well. Both players are key assets for Real Salt Lake, and highly skilled veterans of the game, but their pairing isn’t as effective as it should be. With Dami playing further up in the attack much of last season, it could be that they haven’t built that rapport yet. Everton has been an incredible find for the team. He’s a skillful enforcer in the midfield, even though he’s given to being a little too hard on challenges. The best midfield right now seems to be Pablo Ruiz and Krielach, with Rusnak at the 10. That leaves both Everton and Beckerman out of rotation. RSL’s midfield is one of the trickier parts of making this team work and we’ve seen a lot of tinkering from Freddy Juarez with that lineup.

Rusnak

RSL’s highest ever paid player is Albert Rusnak. The attacking midfielder has also been wearing the captain’s armband recently, as we’ve seen fewer minutes from Kyle Beckerman. Rusnak, however, often seems M.I.A. during games. He’s scored two goals, one of which was a penalty, and provided just one assist. Those numbers are unacceptable from the player who is supposed to be the guy helps create the attack. Will Rusnak step up for this game? When he’s on, he’s one of the most talented players on the squad, but we haven’t seen that from him in a while.

Injury report

None

Predicted lineup