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What we’re watching in Real Salt Lake vs. LAFC

RSL face a very good LAFC for the first time this season

What we’re watching in Real Salt Lake vs. LAFC
Lucas Muller | Wasatch Soccer Sentinel

Real Salt Lake are coming off a dramatic US Open Cup victory over the Portland Timbers on Wednesday. LAFC are third in the west, just 2 points off conference leaders the Seattle Sounders. LAFC beat Monterey Bay FC via a shootout in the Open Cup on Tuesday, and suffered a surprised defeat to San Jose in league player last weekend.

Goals

RSL haven’t scored in their last two league games, though they have scored 7 goals in the Open Cup over the last few weeks. The Open Cup tends to be a more wide open competition than league play, especially in the early stages. In MLS, RSL have been playing a 4-4-2 formation and have struggled to consistently score goals. Rubin and Musovski have generally been the two forwards in that system, at least while Julio is injured . Danny has looked good in both Open Cup games, but, like Rubin, has failed to score in league play. The goals have largely come from Savarino and Gomez. If RSL are going to continue to have two up top, there needs to be more production from those players.

Ruiz

The team’s midfield did surprisingly well to keep a cleans sheet against Houston last weekend. With Loffelsend injured and Ruiz serving a red card suspension for that game, Caldwell and Ojeda did enough to support the backline to get a point on the road, though a better team than Houston would have finished a number of chances. With Pablo Ruiz back for this team, his influence will be important. LAFC are a better team than Houston (or Portland who he faced on Wednesday), but if this team can keep a clean sheet against Seattle two weeks ago, getting a result at home shouldn’t be out of the question. RSL’s midfield will be key to that success.

Defensive improvements

RSL went 8 games without a clean sheet to start the season. They’ve held their opponents to scoreless draws in their last two games, which is good improvement from the backline. Andrew Brody has returned from injury, and played the full game against Houston. Marcelo Silva remains out with injury, but Vera has slotted into his place the last few games. LAFC is a tough test, but Real are doing well in their own half.

RSL player availability

Out: Farnsworth (thigh)

Questionable: Holt (shoulder), Löffelsend (ankle), Silva (back)

Probable: Julio (hamstring), Hidalgo (hamstring)

International: Luna (rostered), Nyeman (alternate)

Monarchs: Kei

Predicted lineup

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