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Match preview: Real Salt Lake opens season against Minnesota United FC

RSL will hope to open the season with a win on the road as they travel to Minnesota to take on the Loons.

MLS: Real Salt Lake at Minnesota United FC Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

It’s that time again! Real Salt Lake’s season will officially start as they head out to Minnesota to take on the Loons in their season opener. RSL fans had to sit back on the sidelines and watch the rest of the 26 teams soak up all the fun last weekend as week one in MLS saw some surprising results (I mean really, who thought Vancouver would beat Portland?) as well as some pretty insane goals.

Now our focus turns to Allianz Field as the boys in claret and cobalt face off against Minnesota United, who are still reeling from their 4-0 loss to the Seattle Sounders on opening weekend. These two sides have met nine times across all competitions, including once in the Orlando bubble last summer where they played to a 0-0 draw. Minnesota really has RSL’s number, boasting four wins and four draws through all nine games. If you did the math, then you already know that means RSL has won once. That lone win for the Utah side came in their second-ever meeting in 2017, when RSL eked out a 1-0 win at home thanks to an 85th-minute goal from Yura Movsisyan.

They haven’t pulled off a win since.

Real Salt Lake

After an incredibly turbulent 2020 season, between the pandemic and the Dell Loy Hansen debacle, it’s safe to say we’re all ready to start a new season and move on. Of course, the club is still without an owner, but that’ll be worked out at some point in the future. I hope.

Everyone’s abuzz about RSL’s new big signing Bobby Wood, who was originally set to join the club on July 1 after his contract at 2. Bundesliga side Hamburger SV expired. In a twist of fate in our favor, HSV decided to terminate his contract early and he’s expected to be here much sooner than that. Reports came out a couple weeks ago about him traveling to Denmark for the birth of his child while sources like ESPN reported he would be joining the team before the beginning of the season. It’s become clear that’s not the case, as Andy Greder of the Pioneer Press reported just yesterday on Twitter.

So while we know Wood won’t be here in time for the Minnesota game, he’ll at least most likely be here earlier than originally expected. The truth is nobody really knows when he’ll get here and be available for selection.

In the meantime, Freddy Juarez has other options at striker with guys like Rubio Rubin, Douglas Martinez, and Milan Iloski. There should be plenty of talent on the wings to supplement those strikers as well, as newly-signed Anderson Julio showed a ton of promise in preseason.

The center back depth has been a big talking point in preseason as well, as the only true CBs currently on the roster are Justen Glad, Marcelo Silva, and Erik Holt. Nick Besler can slot in back there in a pinch (though I think we’d all rather have him stay at holding mid when he plays), but hopefully we see some movement in adding some depth back there in the near future.

Absences

-none-

Projected Lineup

Putna; Herrera, Silva, Glad, Toia; Ruiz, Luiz; Julio, Kreilach, Rusnak; Rubin

Minnesota United FC

Record: 0-1-0 (0 points)
Table: 13th place (west)
Points per game: 0
Most goals: n/a
Most assists: n/a
Clean sheets: 0
Form: L

Minnesota lost some big pieces this offseason, including attackers like Kevin Molino, Mason Toye, and Kei Kamara. They’ll have to figure out how to fill the holes left in the attack as it looks as though Robin Lod will be their biggest threat in the final third. They brought in a few guys like Juan Agudelo, Niko Hansen, Wil Trapp, and Emanuel Reynoso, so it will be interesting to see where all these newcomers will slot into the lineup.

Unfortunately for the Loons, they’ll be without winger Niko Hansen (thigh) and stalwart defender Ike Opara (undisclosed injury) as both missed the season opener and are listed as out on the injury report. Defender Bakaye Dibassy (thigh) is also listed as questionable ahead of this weekend’s match.

The home side will hope to bounce back from that dreadful 4-0 loss to the Sounders in their season opener, and if history tells us anything (which is debatable when talking about MLS), Real Salt Lake will be just the team to do it against. RSL will be figuring out their own situation after losing Nedum Onuoha, Corey Baird, and Kyle Beckerman, and Minnesota just may be able to take advantage in the comfort of their own stadium if they play it right.

Absences

OUT: Ike Opara (undisclosed), Niko Hansen (thigh)
QUESTIONABLE: Bakaye Dibassy (thigh)

Projected Lineup

St. Clair; Metanire, Boxall, Kallman, Gasper; Trapp, Gregus; Finlay, Reynoso, Dotson; Lod


Match info

When: Saturday, April 24th, 6:00p.m. MT

Where: Allianz Field — St. Paul, MN

Weather: 48 degrees, partly cloudy

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