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Real Salt Lake vs. Toronto FC match preview

Can RSL, light on defenders, defeat the Eastern Conference visitors?

MLS: Real Salt Lake at Colorado Rapids Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Real Salt Lake faces off against longtime rivals Toronto FC (sorry, old habits die hard, I guess) on Saturday at 6 p.m., and there’s every reason to be excited about what we might see.

The injury list, save the center backs on the list, is very slowly making a transition from “out” to “questionable,” and we’ve seen some excellent performances from players that have been asked to step in.

This match, then, provides us with an opportunity to see — at home — an Eastern Conference team, which has been woefully rare over the past few years.

What RSL needs to do to win

The big thing here, to my mind, is about scoring goals. While RSL is not a particularly good team statistically at creating scoring chances from live play, Toronto is decidedly worse. If we put one or two goals past Toronto in the first half, recovery is extremely unlikely, and that should put us in pole position. Who will score, and how can RSL score? Well, that’s a question I think we all have right now.

Injuries and Absences

Out

  • Zack Farnsworth is out as usual
  • Justen Glad is still dealing with that hamstring issue that took him out of a match several weeks ago
  • Bret Halsey is also out as usual
  • Erik Holt is out with a plantar fascia tear, which will likely keep him out through 2022
  • Johan Kappelhof is out with a calf issue
  • Jonathan Menendez is out with what seems to be a multi-month issue with his adductor

Questionable

  • Nick Besler is nearing a return, having played with Real Monarchs — but there’s likely a fitness concern there, as he was out for an extended period (missing all of preseason) as he recovered from a nose break
  • Aaron Herrera is back on the questionable list with a calf issue, which is an improvement from just being out
  • Jasper Löffelsend is questionable with a hamstring concern
  • David Ochoa is questionable for the first time since preseason, having suffered a right quad issue — but with Zac MacMath providing excellent cover, expect Ochoa to be seen on the bench sooner rather than later
  • Bobby Wood is also questionable with a hamstring concern

With Real Monarchs

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

Quote of the Match

[a quote from somebody around the team with a link to the source]

Predicted Lineup and Formation

Ed. Note: I somehow really missed on this predicted lineup. It now has more than 10 players in it.

(4-3-3)
MacMath
Schmitt, Orozco, Silva, Brody
Ruiz, Caldwell, Luiz
Meram, Cordova, Chang

Bench: Gomez (GK), Davis, Garcia, Kreilach, Herrera, Wood, Löffelsend, Rubin

Big Questions

Can we expect any hardship signings this week?

I don’t think so — with the list of players on the Questionable list, I think we can reasonably assume that at least one player will be back on the bench. That would lift us above the hardship requirements. But while we’re talking hardship — did you know that Pierre Reedy had 4 interceptions in his cameo appearance and MLS debut last weekend? (And did you know that Andrew Brody had 10?!)

Why aren’t we talking more about Jaziel Orozco?

Yeah, I know, he’s 17, and he’s slated to start this match — and I think we’re all pretty comfortable with that. For me, I’m not talking more about Orozco for two reasons. First, I don’t know enough about him to have strong expectations. I suspect the next few weeks will give us plenty to think about in that regard. Second, we don’t really have a choice. Putting a full back at center back — especially given we don’t have many full backs in the first place — would probably be disastrous. Those things said, I think Orozco’s been very good, and I hope to see that continue.