Well, it’s not every day you get to play a team from Los Angeles when you’re Real Salt Lake, but it sure feels like it sometimes, doesn’t it? Ahead of Sunday’s match against LAFC, we’ve got a little bit of insight on who’s available, who’s unavailable, and why we won’t be seeing Bobby Wood in the big match.
Let’s take a bulleted list approach to this, shall we? We can pretend we’re all business-folk.
- Aaron Herrera is out with a suspension for yellow card accumulation.
- David Ochoa is in contention for minutes, but it sounds like it’ll depend a bit on how his knee is doing. It sounds like they’ve not done major kicking exercises, which is not ideal. Here’s what Pablo Mastroeni said today: “We’re optimistic he should be available, but we’ll know more tomorrow … we’ll do some kicking stuff to test that quad.”
- Bobby Wood? He’s definitely out. He’s still not back to full fitness, and it sounds like on top of that, he’s had a stomach illness of some sort. Again, Mastroeni: “Bobby Wood has unfortunately had a food illness the last couple ideas, stomach issues the last couple days. Obviously he’s a few days out, then getting to the fitness part again. Once he recovers it’ll be more about that, with few games left, get that fitness up where he can contribute meaningfully on game days.”
- Andrew Brody is getting closer to fitness, and Mastroeni said he’s been training without major pain following surgery to repair a broken toe. Fitness is the major stumbling block here, as expected.
- Coming into contention may be Bode Davis, who has yet to earn first-team minutes since signing for the club. Mastroeni said the midfielder has been getting reps at right back, and I’m all for giving it a try.
- Zac MacMath remains out.
- Zack Farnsworth also probably remains out, but there’s no way he’s getting first team minutes this late in the season anyway.
- Jeizon Ramirez? You better believe he’s out.
Finally, here’s a pre-match quote from Pablo Mastroeni on how he’s trying to coach the tendency to play back to the goalkeeper out of his players.
One of the things that I really want to focus on is our mentality, to play higher up the field, to play more direct, to look forward. Again, it could be considered tactical, but for me, it’s more of a mentality.
Too often we went back to our goalkeeper, and we felt content with him having the ball, and we wouldn’t work hard to get into positions to want to play forward. Everything we’ve done in training is basically eliminating the keeper from the exercises from a playing-out-of-the-back perspective, and really forcing our center backs, our outside backs, and our deep-lying midfielders to really look forward.
It’s been remarkable how those little changes really allow them to see options forward.