The 2022 season is upon us and Real Salt Lake start the year, as they so often do, on the road. Today they’ll take on the Houston Dynamo, who, like RSL, have a new owner and they’ve started to rebuild. RSL are coming off a lackluster preseason, but impressed in the 2021 playoffs – what can they bring to this new season?
No one wants to start the season with a long list of injuries, but four possible starters in Damir Kreilach, David Ochoa, Rubio Rubin, and Aaron Herrera (who is serving his red card suspension for that western conference final red) are all out. RSL are lucky to not be facing the toughest of opponents on day one. Ochoa and Dami are both listed as questionable, so assuming they don’t start, that’s a tall order for the team. MacMath will obviously start in goal, but replacing Herrera and Dami with no real back up for either gets tricky fast.
A healthy Bobby Wood
RSL’s signing Bobby Wood in 2021 was a good move that never quite paid off last season. We later found out he was carrying an injury for much of last year and an offseason to heal, recover, and get into form could prove lethal for the team’s attack. Against UVU, he scored 4 goals and was clearly having fun against an out of season college team. After that game, Wood told RSL Soapbox that he felt in good health and ready for the season. If that translates to MLS goals, then RSL will be in good shape up top.
Head coach Pablo Mastroeni favored the three-man backline in the early days of his tenure as the interim head coach, but later changed to a four-back as RSL found a more effective form. We were told part of that change to a three-back was to allow RSL’s then captain Albert Rusnak to be most effective. Now that Rusnak has departed, we’ll get to see what Mastroeni prefers with this current group. With another good central midfielder in Scott Caldwell, the three-back might work, but ultimately may suffer the same issues as 2021. That could be solved should Gustavo Cuellar end up at RSL. Either way, the opening day formation will certainly be a point of interest as the season starts.
Out: Zack Farnsworth, Nick Besler, Axel Kei, Rubio Rubin
Questionable: Damir Kreilach, David Ochoa
Suspended: Aaron Herrera (red card)