Real Salt Lake secured a playoff spot after a decisive home victory over the Portland Timbers last Sunday. They were the lowest ranked team to make the playoffs, so no matter how far they make it in the playoffs, all their games are on the road. The first round sees them play Austin FC at Q2 Stadium.
Having Bryan Oviedo play in his preferred position of left back was a revelation for RSL in their last game. The 32 year old outside back was strong in defense, but also provided two assists against Portland. He also allows Andrew Brody to play on the right, which, despite years of playing on the left, is his preferred position. With Herrera out injured, it’s an odd situation that one of these three talented players will be left out at some point, but that’s a problem for another game.
Sava on the left
Winger Jefferson Savarino was moved from a central attacking role back to the wing, where he’s more effective. He was played on the left, which is not his preferred side, but he was very good none-the-less. It’s likely we see him in a similar role today. He had a goal and an assist in his last game and RSL will need that spark in order to find success against Austin. RSL’s use of two forwards in Cordova and Rubin helped keep Portland on their toes.
Austin are the better team in his fixture, which generally means very little to RSL in the playoffs. Austin finished the season second in the west, with 9 more points than RSL. Q2 stadium is an incredible atmosphere, and RSL recently suffered a 3-0 defeat there. But there are very little expectations on Real to do well in this game, whereas Austin are under enormous pressure to success today. After the 2021 playoffs, teams are wary of what RSL can do in the playoffs.
Out: Bobby Wood (adductor)
Questionable: Damir Kreilach (back), Aaron Herrera (calf)