It’s been a big week for Real Salt Lake and the Vancouver Whitecaps. Both teams have parted ways with their head coaches, with Freddy Juarez leaving for an assistant role with the Sounders and Marc Dos Santos fired after an underwhelming season and loss to Pacific FC in the Canadian Championship. The Whitecaps have won their last two with such a rough start, they’re still down in 10th place in the western conference.
It’s the first time the former Colorado Rapids player and manager will be in charge of Real Salt Lake since Freddy Juarez left RSL. Mastroeni’s time with the Rapids was mostly poor, with one good season under his care in 2016. He has since spent a few seasons at Houston as an assistant before taking the assistant job under Freddy earlier this year.
More than any players, tonight’s game is a test for Pablo. The criticism of Freddy was that he did not always get the most of out the team, which often materialized in odd substitution patterns and giving up goals late. Since he’s only had a few days in charge as the interim head coach, that’s not a lot of time to adjust formation and style of play, but look to see what’s different from the last RSL outing.
Young David Ochoa has been injured and, in a way, M.I.A., for several weeks. Zac MacMath, who has played under Mastroeni in Colorado, left the last game at halftime with an injury. He’s found himself on this week’s injury report, and we can expect to see Andrew Putna start.
We should also see Jeffrey Dewsnup on the bench for RSL. He didn’t not travel with the Monarchs in their 2-0 loss to Indy Eleven last night. In that game, Blake Kelly became the youngest goal keeper to ever play in the USL Championship at 15 years old. Dewsnup, who is just 17, is on the RSL roaster and has been a regular with the Monarchs this season. It’s unlikely he is actually called in, but things are getting thin at the keeper spot for RSL.
As we saw against the Rapids last weekend, RSL keep giving up points from leading positions. It’s been RSL’s biggest problem this season and is something Mastroeni will surely want to change. The team and the former head coach recognized it as an issue, but no clear resolution was ever stated. It could be a formation change, however with Bobby Wood injured this week we won’t see him paired with Rubin up top. The midfield needs to contribute to the defense more than anyone. That could be as simply as smarter and sharper passing, Something needs to improve and improve fast.