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Sporting Kansas City vs. Real Salt Lake match preview

Can RSL cope with myriad injuries and beat Kansas City?

Real Salt Lake v Sporting Kansas City Photo by Bill Barrett/ISI Photos/Getty Images

Real Salt Lake takes to the road — something they’ll need to get used to over the next five matches, with four games being played away from home — to take on longtime rivals Sporting Kansas City (if a decade is indeed a long time, I suppose.) RSL’s injury crisis will be the story dominating before kickoff, but can a scrappy Utah team impress without multiple handfuls of key players?

What RSL needs to do to win

It’s simple, really: A lot. And maybe that’s not actually simple, and I should apologize for calling it simple. When I look at RSL right now, I see a team that’s together and willing to fight for each other. Unfortunately, pickings are getting extremely slim for the team, with the absences piling on.

We could see Damir Kreilach, which would be his second appearance of the season, but after he suffered a recurrence of his calf issue that popped up in preseason, caution would be advised. We might also see Rubio Rubin, who we anticipated to be out to start the season, and his return would be a welcome one. Still, it’s not like RSL hasn’t been scoring goals, right?

The final thing RSL needs to contend with, for me, is a potentially extra-motivated Sporting Kansas City side, especially as RSL knocked them out of playoff contention last year. That memory will be fresh. That could also play into our favor, which would be just perfect.

Injuries and Absences

Ed. note: Damir Kreilach appeared in Out and Questionable. Whoops. That’s been resolved. He’s only in Questionable.

On international duty

  • Justin Meram is out, though thankfully not because of injury — he’s off with the Iraqi national team, which he un-retired from after a coaching change. Good for him!

Out

  • Nick Besler, who is still recovering from a face concern
  • Zack Farnsworth, as he has been since he signed last year
  • Justen Glad looked to have suffered a hamstring issue in RSL’s win over Nashville SC — at least, that’s the impression we were left with after our expert lip-readers watched the broadcast.
  • Bret Halsey is still out with a right ankle concern

Questionable

  • Sergio Cordova is questionable with a right knee issue — knees are tricky things, aren’t they?
  • Aaron Herrera may be out — I’d say it’s probable — after suffering an injury in training, according to Pablo Mastroeni. He just played his first game back from an injury that took him out of preseason.
  • Damir Kreilach could be on the bench, according to RSL coach Pablo Mastroeni — but he’s questionable, and I’m not counting on it.
  • Marcelo Silva was absent last week owing to an issue with blood under his toenail, but hopefully, he’s back in the team. Otherwise, we’re in a very precarious position. From a long-term perspective, this one’s not worrying, which is nice considering the injury to Glad.

Potentially returning

  • Rubio Rubin apparently played minutes with Real Monarchs, although finding evidence of that aside from a Mastroeni quote is nigh-impossible to come by. Mastroeni has also indicated Rubin could make a return on Saturday. He’s also graduated from the injury report — good for him!

With Real Monarchs

  • Gavin Beavers, though he may still be injured, anyway — the most recent Real Monacrhs report offered no indication, though.
  • Julio Benitez
  • Jeff Dewsnup is also a player I think might be injured, but see the Gavin Beavers note. I suspect they’d both need to be injured for RSL to continue putting Tomas Gomez on the bench.
  • Axel Kei is definitely injured, according to the latest report from Real Monarchs.
  • Jude Wellings

Quote of the Match

The one thing I will say that if my eyes tell me that the players are still going and can still move and run, then I don’t even ask about the biometrics. In other words, our performance will never say, “we’ve gotta be careful with this guy.” That’ll never be said. It’ll always be me, unless they see somebody grabbing their hamstring or somebody slowing down. But we’ll never use the data to validate the eye test until the eye test is observed.

Pablo Mastroeni, with Bill Riley on ESPN 700

Predicted Lineup and Formation

Italicized players are listed as questioanble.

3-4-3
MacMath
Kappelhof, Holt, Silva
Brody, Ruiz, Caldwell, Schmitt
Chang, Wood, Cordova

Bench: Tomas Gomez (GK), Bode Davis, Chris Garcia, Everton Luiz, Jonathan Menendez, Rubio Rubin, Damir Kreilach, Jasper Löffelsend

Here’s an alternate look in which RSL plays a four-man back line, in case Marcelo Silva isn’t able to play.

4-2-3-1
MacMath
Brody, Kappelhof, Holt, Schmitt
Caldwell, Ruiz
Chang, Menendez, Cordova
Wood

Bench: Gomez, Davis, Garcia, Luiz, Rubin, Kreilach