It’s Real Salt Lake’s 2022 home opener and you couldn’t ask for a more dramatic team to face. They’ll host the Seattle Sounders, who they were able to defeat in the 2021 MLS playoffs without taking a single shot on goal. Since then, the Sounders have picked off RSL’s captain. Inter-team drama aside, RSL are coming of a less-than-thrilling road point and Seattle a loss at home against Nashville.
Listen, I don’t want this to be one of the key things I’m watching in this game, you don’t want this, no one wants this, but it’s inescapable. From the long drawn-out process of Rusnak leaving, to his words about RSL post departure, to the team’s decision to recognize him before this game, Rusnak is going to be a key figure throughout the day. Bobby Wood told the media at Friday’s training that he’s looking forward to seeing Rusnak and they’re good friends, but that may add to the sense of rivalry in this game. The fanbase’s response to his return will certainly be a point of interest, regardless of Albert’s performance on the field.
Connecting to the attack
One issue with last weekend’s game was creating meaningful chances. Bobby Wood felt nearly invisible, and that wasn’t because he was doing anything wrong. RSL’s midfield seemed disconnected, which is expected when the 10 leaves the team and hasn’t really been replaced. Kreilach has a very different set of skills and the team needs to figure how to provide service to the attackers in order to create goal scoring opportunities. One big positive will be the return of Everton Luiz. The club confirmed to RSL Soapbox that his visa had been approved and he’s eligible for this game.
Back to the three-back
After last week, we got to see RSL return to their back-three formation. It worked fairly well, even if the team lacked an offensive bit. Holt had a decent game and the Silva/Glad pairing was solid as ever. With Everton back in the mix, and able to provide more defensive cover than the rest of the midfield, will that free up the attack more?
Out: Zack Farnsworth, Nick Besler, Aaron Herrera, David Ochoa, Rubio Rubin
Questionable: Damir Kreilach