Real Salt Lake are coming of a much-needed win over LA Galaxy on Wednesday. They face Minnesota United in Minnesota, where they have never even picked up a single point (4 losses away for RSL overall). The Loons are winless in their last three games. A tie would mean RSL are level on points with Minnesota, but would be behind on number of wins. A victory for Real would mean they jump Minnesota in the standings.
Creating better chances
RSL’s loss to the Rapids will be the low-point marker for many years to come, but both games since have been significant improvements. The team is creating better chances, and scoring goals from those chances. Kreilach’s goal on Wednesday was not only great vision from Rusnak but also Donny Toia, who had a fantastic pass up the line to put Albert into a dangerous position. A similar chance came earlier in the second half with Onuoha putting in the cross, but Bingham would save Albert’s shot.
The team is doing more to be dangerous, but it’s certainly not consistent. Their best tool right now is taking the back up the wing nearly to the end line, then crossing it to the top of the 18. Will they be able to create those dangerous chances in a stadium where they’ve already fallen 4-0 this season?
Building from the back
It’s been a strange season for many reasons, but one reason very specific to Real Salt Lake is the retirement of Nick Rimando. Rimando was incredible with his ability to distribute the ball from the back. That’s not something that either Putna or MacMath are as good at as Nick. The defense has found other ways to contribute to the attack. As mentioned above, Kreilach’s goal against LA started with Toia. Rusnak nearly had a goal from Onuoha. We’re seeing both center backs move up the field and contribute, generally while the other stays back. The outside backs in Herrera and Toia both get up and down the field.
There must be a solid connection between the backline and the midfield. RSL have had a good number of lineup changes in the middle, which does not lend itself to familiarity. Are the midfielders able to connect with the back and carry the ball through the middle, or do they primarily go up the wings? Watch to see what the backline is able to bring to the game outside just defense.
Not medically cleared to play: