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New England Revolution vs. Real Salt Lake match preview

RSL takes on a pretty good team on Saturday — and they’re still in the crunch of an injury crisis.

MLS: Concacaf Champions League Quarterfinal-Pumas UNAM at New England Revolution
I completely forgot that Jozy Altidore plays for New England. Time’s a funny old thing.
Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

Real Salt Lake travels to the great state of New England on Saturday to take on the Revolution, who I often remember as a very bad team in the last decade, but who have also been bucking that expectation over the last year.

What’s that? New England isn’t a state?

Oh. Well, Massachusetts, then. In a soccer-specific stadium.

What’s that again?

Huh. Well, in an NFL stadium. Alright. It should be fun, though — we so rarely get to see these Eastern Conference teams, it appears I’ve forgotten everything about them.

What RSL needs to do to win

Quite simply, Real Salt Lake needs to do basically everything perfectly. New England Revolution are a very good team, and we will be without a very big chunk of our starting XI. You’ll see more about that in Injuries and Absences, below. We’ll also need to find a way to score, and maybe what we saw from Bobby Wood isn’t a fluke. That would be a great way to start the season — another Bobby Wood goal.

Injuries and Absences

Out

  • Gavin Beavers is out, having picked up an injury in the Real Monarchs preseason. Despite being a first-team player, he’s not listed, so this is coming from Trey Fitz-Gerald.
  • Nick Besler is still out with his nose thing.
  • Jeff Dewsnup apparently hasn’t trained with RSL yet this year because of injury. See the note for Beavers.
  • Zack Farnsworth, truly a man of mystery if there ever was one, is out.
  • Bret Halsey is also out. “Right ankle,” the club says. So, yeah.

Questionable, but almost certainly out

  • Aaron Herrera remains likely out, which is sort of something we’re going to have to cope without him in the early season. I’m not a fan of him being missing.
  • Damir Kreilach, too, is “questionable” but has been specified by Pablo Mastroeni as almost certainly out.
  • David Ochoa is also listed as “questionable,” but we know that Mastroeni said that everyone who missed last week is also out this week. So, uh, yeah.
  • Rubio Rubin has apparently started fully training again, but he, too, is out. Just, you know, not on the injury report, where he is listed as “questionable.”

Truly questionable

  • Zac MacMath made it on the injury report, who has an unspecified left leg injury or concern. A little concerning, certainly, given he’s our backup goalkeeper, and our starting goalkeeper is out. Fun times ahead!

Quote of the Match

Pablo Mastroeni on RSL’s injured selection, via ESPN 700

I would say not likely, unless there was a real surprise. I’d like to tell you that we’re optimistic that one or two of the guys could come in, but the truth is, it’s not likely the guys that we didn’t have available for the last game will be available for this game. But we are making progress, and we’re starting to see them in more training. Not full training, but more training.

Predicted Lineup and Formation

3-4-3
Tomas Gomez
Holt, Glad, Silva
Brody, Ruiz, Caldwell, Schmitt
Chang, Wood, Meram

Big Questions

  • Who’s in goal?! We may see Tomas Gomez, a short-term signing (though MLS rules do make it a bit confusing, because it’s the third match we’ll have him for, and the rules specify a four-day signing period … I dunno, MLS is weird.) and I guess maybe a pool goalkeeper on the bench? Or maybe MacMath? Or maybe even MacMath is on the bench?
  • Will New England rotate heavily, like Seattle did? They’re also playing in CONCACAF Champions League, and they beat Pumas 3-0 this week. They play again on Wednesday. Does that give them enough cushion to start a first-choice lineup at home? I think it might.
  • Will we start to get healthy after this game? That’s not really a question about this game, but it’s a question to surface nonetheless.