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Match preview: Real Salt Lake faces Nashville SC in first-ever meeting

RSL plays host to unbeaten Nashville in the first-ever meeting for these two sides.

MLS: San Jose Earthquakes at Real Salt Lake Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

Real Salt Lake plays host to Nashville SC this weekend, marking the first-ever meeting between these two sides since Nashville joined the league in 2020. RSL is fresh off a 2-1 loss last week at home to the San Jose Earthquakes thanks to a late-game brace from MLS’ all-time leading scorer Chris Wondolowski. The 38-year-old came off the bench and provided a much-needed boost for the Quakes after being taken to task for the majority of the game by Real Salt Lake.

RSL will now shift focus to Gary Smith’s side in hopes of bouncing back from that loss by getting back to their winning ways they started the season off with.

Real Salt Lake

Record: 2-1-0 (6 points)
Table: 8th place (west)
Points per game: 2.0
Most goals: Rubio Rubin (3)
Most assists: Damir Kreilach (3)
Clean sheets: 0
Form: WWL

After dropping all three points to the Earthquakes last week, RSL will look to get back to basics and keep a clean sheet this weekend in their first-ever meeting with Nashville SC. Unfortunately, Everton Luiz (undisclosed) is set to miss this game as he’s listed as out on the injury report, while both Aaron Herrera and Marcelo Silva are listed as questionable ahead of the contest. We can expect to see Andrew Brody slot in for Herrera as he’s been doing in his absence, while Erik Holt will most likely get the starting nod again if Silva doesn’t see the field.

Aside from that, Freddy Juarez should be able to field a full-strength squad with plenty of options in the attack. Anderson Julio didn’t see the field last week against San Jose as Justin Meram got the start at left wing while Albert Rusnak started on the right, with Damir Kreilach pulling the strings at the number 10 position. Meram created some great chances, so it’ll be interesting to see if Juarez opts to give him the starting nod again, or if he’ll choose to bring in Julio and his dangerous speed on the outside.

Rubio Rubin has been off to an incredibly strong start to the season after winning Goal of the Week honors for his gorgeous bicycle he scored last week. Not to mention the brace he scored against Sporting Kansas City, as well as his two assists he bagged in the season opener. Rubin’s making a case for why he should keep the starting spot even after Bobby Wood arrives (whenever that may be), and to be honest I’m excited as a fan to watch that central attacking position battle play out between the two of them.


OUT: Everton Luiz (undisclosed)
QUESTIONABLE: Aaron Herrera (undisclosed), Marcelo Silva (undisclosed)

Projected Lineup

Ochoa; Herrera, Holt, Glad, Toia; Ruiz, Besler; Rusnak, Kreilach, Julio; Rubin

Nashville SC

Record: 1-0-3 (6 points)
Table: 10th place (west)
Points per game: 1.5
Most goals: Jhonder Cadiz (2)
Most assists: Randall Leal (2)
Clean sheets: 2
Form: DDDW

Nashville is off to a surprisingly decent start to the 2021 campaign, going unbeaten in their first four games straight. Sure, the first three games were draws, but they held Inter Miami to a 0-0 draw and then followed that up with a big 2-0 win over Bruce Arena’s New England squad.

They’re proving to be a solid defensive team, only giving up four goals through their first four games — a stark contrast to teams like Minnesota, Chicago, and Cincinnati who have all given up 10 goals so far. Walker Zimmerman and ex-Galaxy defender Dave Romney holding down the center positions. Daniel Lovitz has been very good on the left side as he’s created plenty of chances in the attack, notching one assist and four shots overall so far.

Nashville’s attack has fared decently as well, outshooting their opponents in all four games so far and creating plenty of dangerous chances. They went down 2-0 in each of their first two games against FC Cincinnati and CF Montreal, but fought back to earn 2-2 draws in both contests. Newly-acquired CJ Sapong scored his first goal for Nashville last week as well.


OUT: Daniel Rios (foot)
QUESTIONABLE: Abu Danladi (hamstring)

Projected Lineup

Willis; Johnston, Zimmerman, Romney, Lovitz; McCarty, Godoy; Muyl, Mukhtar, Leal; Cadiz

Match info

When: Saturday, May 14th, 7:30p.m. MT

Where: Rio Tinto Stadium — Sandy, UT

Weather: 72 degrees, overcast

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