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What we’re watching in Vancouver Whitecaps vs Real Salt Lake

RSL are on the road to the Whitecaps where they’ll face their former captain

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

Real Salt Lake are back after a week off. They’re on the road in Canada, where they’ll play the Vancouver Whitecaps. Former RSL captain Damir Kreilach is now with the Whitecaps, which is a clear focal point in this game. RSL are suffering a few key injuries and a number of players on international duty, so this could be a tough road trip.

The last game

RSL’s last game was a 2-1 loss against the Colorado Rapids. It’s been a few years since RSL had a home loss to the Rapids and that game was very winnable for Real. Eneli’s goal was a fantastic moment, and the penalty he conceded felt harsh, even if it was the right call. The second goal that Colorado scored was only possible because Vera made such a bizarre clearance right into traffic that he should be credited with a Rapids assist. Two weeks rest should give the team plenty of time to recover and reevaluate.

King Kreilach

Damir Kreilach had been one of the leaders of Real Salt Lake since joining in 2018. After a major injury and decline in minutes, the Croatian made a surprise move to the Vancouver Whitecaps in the offseason. He’s played in all three of their MLS games, and even scored a goal in CONCACAF Champions Cup. The Whitecaps have yet to lose this MLS season, having drawn 1-1 with Charolette in their opening game, then beat Dallas and San Jose to put them 2nd in the west.

Absences

RSL are down 7 players this week, many of them starters. With guys like Luna and Gomez both out, that certainly hurts the team’s attack. With Crooks and Glad listed as questionable, that has big repercussions for the midfield and defense. Granted, those absences will give a chance to players like Maikel Chang, Fidel Barajas, or Anderson Julio to play. With Crooks, Luna, and obviously Ruiz all out, who is at the ten is a tough call.

MacMath return

Against the Colorado Rapids, Zac MacMath was on the bench. This gave younger up-and-comer Gavin Beavers a needed game. Since Beavers is with the USYNT, that means Zac will be back in goal. Unless Glad is back, we’re likely to see the same backline of Brody, Vera, Silva, and Hidalgo. This gives us a better look at the effect MacMath’s experience and leadership has on the defenders. RSL lost their last game 2-1, and if MacMath doesn’t bring a bump in performance, bigger questions need to be asked.

Player availability

Out Bonilla (knee) Ruiz (knee)

Questionable Glad (hamstring injury suffered 3/6/24) Crooks (calf injury suffered 3/9/24 v COL)

International Duty Luna (USA Olympic) Andrés Gómez (Colombia) Beavers (USA U-20)

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