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What we’re watching in New York City FC vs. Real Salt Lake

RSL are on the road to play the reigning MLS Cup Champs

Lucas Muller | RSL Soapbox

Real Salt Lake face reigning MLS Cup champions NYCFC at Yankee Stadium today. RSL are winless in their last three games and have dropped down to 6th in the west, but are only two points off the top. NYCFC are dead last in the eastern conference and are coming off a disappointing loss to the Seattle Sounders in CONCACAF Champions League, which means they’ll miss out on the final. Will that loss crush NYCFC further or will it be motivation for them to improve their league play?

Kreilach fit

RSL’s captain has spent much of the season injured. Against Toronto he was able to play a full 90 minutes and score a goal. Damir Kreilach is one of the most important players on this team, and having him back is a huge help. Last weekend wasn’t prefect for him, though. He struggles to stay on his feet when there’s contact or pressure, and he gave away the ball which led to Toronto’s equalizing goal. Granted, it was a poor choice from MacMath to pass to Dami in that area, but he should do better once he has the ball. It’s a pattern for him, but generally happens higher up the field where a call is more advantageous to the attack, so perhaps last Saturday was just some rust showing.

Defensive improvements

As the injured players return to health, we’re seeing more guys rejoin the backline. The biggest return is that of Aaron Herrera. If he starts, he’ll likely cause Andrew Brody to move to the left side, which in turn bumps Tate Schmitt to the bench. Schmitt coming off the bench could be a good late spark, as he’s already provided some impressive goals this season. Another point of interest in Justen Glad being upgraded to “questionable” on the injury report. If he can play, even as a sub, that bodes well for the defense. Goal keeper David Ochoa has been removed form the injury list as well, and we can see if Mastroeni thinks he’s ready to displace MacMath.

Concentration

If we learned anything from the game against Toronto, it’s that a brief lapse in concentration will cost you. Both TFC’s goals were preventable. NYCFC haven’t done well this season, but they still have an immense amount of talent and know how to win. MacMath has done very well this season, and one poor pass shouldn’t erase that hard work, but he needs to make safe choices, especially when playing out of the back. Likewise, the defenders have to mark and track.

Injury report

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)