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What we’re watching in FC Dallas vs. Real Salt Lake

RSL are on the road and in desperate need of points

Lucas Muller | RSL Soapbox

Real Salt Lake have struggled on the road this season, and nothing has made that more clear than recent losses at Austin and Chicago; results that helped move RSL below the playoff line. With only four games left this season, RSL has an uphill battle to make their way above the playoff line. They sit in 9th place on 42 points. They do have a game in hand over many of the teams in the west, but if they’re not able to pick up points on the road, home wins may not be enough to get them to the post season.

Midfield control

Real Salt Lake’s midfield have been, largely, a point of weakness this season. Pablo Ruiz has had some brilliant performances, but too often he’s not at his best. Everton Luiz has similar struggles, and when the two of them are off, then RSL is unable to control the middle of the field. We saw this against Chicago and it prevented the attack from being effective.

Is the 3-5-2 hurting the team?

The change to a 3-5-2 formation after the departure of Freddy Juarez showed ambition from interim head coach Pablo Mastroeni, but it hasn’t been particularly effective and there are no real signs that the team is growing into the new system. RSL’s roster has an abundance of wingers and a scarcity of center backs, yet this formation reduces the number of wingers on the field and increases the CBs playing. With the injury of Toni Datkovic, we may see a change in formation, but he hasn’t made the 18 lately and that hasn’t changed the lineup. Menendez has been a casualty of the formation and players like him will move on from RSL if they’re not seeing the field. With RSL shipping goals, if they can’t score more then it’s time to move on from this experiment.

Taking advantage

FC Dallas have already been eliminated from the playoffs and haven’t had a win since August. If RSL can’t get points on the road tonight, then they don’t deserve to make the playoffs. A draw would be acceptable, but this team needs to push for all three points. With a game in hand, RSL still control their own destiny. There’s a possible 12 points left for Real to capture; if they can do that they should be safe.

Injury report

Questionable: Marcelo Silva

Out: Zack Farnsworth, Toni Datkovic

Predicted lineup