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New York City FC vs. Real Salt Lake match preview

It’s a big game in the Big Apple.

MLS: Toronto FC at Real Salt Lake Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

Real Salt Lake’s back in action with an Easter special on Sunday, and I hope you’re ready for this one — it could either be very good, or it might be a little weird. You don’t get many opportunities to watch European soccer then MLS back-to-back without tape delay, so there’s a little uniqueness, too.

RSL, New York City FC, 11am kickoff? You better believe we’re excited.

What RSL needs to do to win

You know? Real Salt Lake just needs to play their game, whatever that may be right now. New York City FC should be in a fragile state after losing out on a place in the CONCACAF Champions League final to Seattle, and if we hit early, I think we’ve got a pretty good chance here. Of course, this is also the MLS Cup-winning team from 2021 we’re facing, so please, go in with realistic expectations here — even if we did take down the Supporters Shield-winning New England Revolution, who are now sitting with just 0.8 points per game.

Injuries and Absences

Out

  • Zack Farnsworth (right ankle)
  • Bret Halsey (ankle)
  • Erik Holt (left foot)
  • Johan Kappelhof (left calf)
  • Jonathan Menendez (adductor)

Questionable

  • Jasper Löffelsend (hamstring)
  • Justen Glad (hamstring)

Potentially returning

  • Aaron Herrera made a substitute appearance last week — will he start this week? There’s a non-zero chance, as I think he’s a significant upgrade from Andrew Brody, which should say nothing negative about Brody. However, Herrera’s return could give us a chance to play in a 3-man backline with him in a still-bizarre hybrid right-back-center-back role.
  • David Ochoa is off the list, but do I think he will start on Sunday? No, I do not. But do I think he will start on Wednesday? Yes, I do.

With Real Monarchs or RSL Academy

  • Jeff Dewsnup
  • Gavin Beavers
  • Julio Benitez
  • Jude Wellings
  • Axel Kei

Quote of the Week

Predicted Lineup and Formation

3-4-3
MacMath
Herrera, Silva, Orozco
Brody, Ruiz, Caldwell, Schmitt
Meram, Cordova, Chang

Big Questions

I keep wondering where the goals will come from, and we keep scoring, but at some point, I’d love to see a pattern of attacking play that isn’t just building from a cross. Crosses are fine and good, but for all the talk about having more in our arsenal, I haven’t seen much of that yet.

The other big question is one I alluded to above: Will Aaron Herrera start in a back-three role? Is that a good idea? Does it expose RSL in some key areas? And even if Herrera doesn’t, can RSL figure out the proper positions for their full backs to avoid getting caught out again?