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Match preview: Real Salt Lake returns to league play hosting the Vancouver Whitecaps

Vancouver will visit Rio Tinto Stadium, which is also their temporary home due to COVID-19 restrictions, as Real Salt Lake look to extend their three-game unbeaten run.

Minnesota United FC v Real Salt Lake Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images

After what felt like a year-long FIFA break, Real Salt Lake is back in action at home against their temporary stadium-mates Vancouver Whitecaps. While Bobby Wood arrived in Salt Lake a couple weeks ago, it’s unknown whether he’ll be available on the field for tonight. RSL doesn’t have anyone listed on the injury report, so Freddy Juarez should have a full squad to choose from.

Vancouver won both meetings against RSL last season by 2-1 scorelines, but they’re off to a bad start in the 2021 campaign, losing four of their last five outings with a 2-0 win over Montreal in early May counting as their only victory in that timespan.

On the other side, Real Salt Lake have only lost one game in their first six contest, coming in the form of a 2-1 loss to San Jose thanks to Chris Wondolowski showing up late in the game and sealing the deal for the Earthquakes. Since that game, Salt Lake has logged three straight draws to Nashville, FC Dallas, and Minnesota United.

Rubio Rubin has made a strong showing so far in his debut season for Real Salt Lake, notching four goals and two assists through six games played, while Damir Kreilach isn’t far behind with three goals and three assists of his own. With the arrival of Bobby Wood and the pending arrival of Jonathan Menendez, their attack is about to get a couple key pieces that could help immensely once they settle in and find playing time. Of course Rubin will be looking to keep his starting spot at the top of the attack, but Bobby Wood is too big of a player not to give him a chance to prove himself at this club right off the bat.

RSL is roughly right in the middle of the pack league-wide with nine goals scored overall, a full seven goals behind the league’s leading scorers Sporting Kansas City. RSL sits ninth place in the Western Conference table at the moment with the potential of jumping all the way to fifth depending on how other results go. It’s a tight race in the west, but it’s also still very early in the season with only six games played.

Real Salt Lake will travel to face the Seattle Sounders next week before returning home to face the Houston Dynamo on the 26th of June.


Match info

When: Friday, June 18, 8:00p.m. MT

Where: Rio Tinto Stadium — Sandy, UT

Weather: 89 degrees, partly cloudy

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