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Match preview: Real Salt Lake hosts struggling LAFC

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LAFC, sitting near the bottom of the table, visit Rio Tinto Stadium to take on Real Salt Lake.

MLS: Los Angeles FC at Real Salt Lake Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

Real Salt Lake will hope to end their two-game winless skid and grab all three points at home against an LAFC side who has been struggling through injuries to find their footing this season. This will mark Corey Baird’s first return to Rio Tinto Stadium since he was sent to Los Angeles this past offseason.

RSL hasn’t been able to find any sort of dominance over LA, logging only two wins while giving up six losses to the 2019 Supporters Shield winners. They split the results last season in their two meetings, with RSL grabbing a 3-0 win in September and then giving up a 3-1 loss almost a month later.

LAFC have been struggling so far this year, largely due to the absence of standout star Carlos Vela who was injured for most of the beginning of the season. He’s only played 364 minutes in seven appearances throughout LAFC’s first 10 games of the year, scoring one goal and adding three assists. Corey Baird has led the team’s attack along with Diego Rossi, with both players sitting on three goals apiece this season.

They’re fresh off of a 2-1 loss on the road to Sporting Kansas City, where Moon-Hwan Kim put in the visitors’ lone goal in the first half, but after Tristan Blackmon was sent off with a red card, the home side pulled two goals back thanks to Alan Pulido and Daniel Salloi.

In further bad looks for LAFC, they’ve only one once in their last 16 matches away from home — which turned out to be that 3-1 win at Rio Tinto Stadium last October.

Real Salt Lake is in need of getting back to their winning ways after a disappointing draw with the Houston Dynamo at home last week. Bobby Wood made his second-straight appearance off the bench and played 24 minutes, but his impact has been minimal as he’s only been able to log three shots through those two matches. Obviously his performance will improve as he sees more minutes and finds his role within Freddy Juarez’s lineup.

A win could see RSL jump as high as fourth place depending on other results around the western conference, as the season is still in early stages and the middle of the table is relatively tight.


Absences

Real Salt Lake

OUT: Jeizon Ramirez (undisclosed), Zack Farnsworth (undisclosed)

Los Angeles FC

OUT: Kwadwo Opoku (left knee), Diego Palacios (int’l duty), Brian Rodriguez (int’l duty), Tristan Blackmon (red card suspension)

Match info

When: Saturday, July 3, 8:00p.m. MT

Where: Rio Tinto Stadium — Sandy, UT

Weather: 90 degrees, clear

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