Real Salt Lake expect tough game, different atmosphere in Leagues Cup

SANDY, Utah — The Leagues Cup match against Tigres UANL Wednesday (10:30 PM ET | ESPN+, TUDN, App) won’t look or feel like a typical match for Real Salt Lake.

That is because they will be playing a club that is coming off a title-winning campaign in Liga MX and a runners-up finish in the most recent edition of Concacaf Champions League. Tigres feature some of the best players in Concacaf in Andre-Pierre Gignac, Eduardo Vargas, Guido Pizarro and former RSL defender Carlos Salcedo.

“We’re getting ready for what’s going to be a tough game,” RSL coach Mike Petke said. “They’re early in their season. They’re very fluid in their movement and defensively, they get tight and they don’t allow a lot. I expect them to bring a very strong team.

“We always want to come out on the front foot no matter who we’re playing especially at home, but at the end of the day it’s going to be a very tough challenge for us.”

It’ll be challenging, in part, because the reigning Liga MX champions bring a different style of play.

“Their main objective is possession, possession, possession,” RSL midfielder Kyle Beckerman said. “They definitely punish you if you give the ball away cheaply and they’re not going to give it away easily.”

Even though Tigres may keep the ball on the deck and value possession, that won’t mean RSL will play all that differently.

“Tactically, I don’t know that I would call it changing it up, but we’re going to do certain things based on an opponent we’re not too familiar with,” Petke said. “We’re trying to stick with how we’ve played, especially over the last month, and play the way we want to play.”

The only guidance Petke gave on who would be in his lineup was that he would put out “the best team of players that are physically ready to play that we possibly can.”

RSL forward Sebastian “Bofo” Saucedo thinks whoever is on the field will be pretty formidable, regardless of who Tigres starts.

“This RSL team has special players and we’re able to keep the ball,” Saucedo said. “I think it’s a great opportunity to showcase ourselves against Mexican clubs and show that RSL has a good style of play. Whether we touch the ball or go long, I think we’re capable of being able to play a good game against them.”

After his time on loan at Veracruz two seasons ago, Saucedo knows that the play on the field will not be the only thing that differs from a typical match. The crowd at Rio Tinto Stadium will likely have a different makeup than it usually does.

“It’s a different culture. There’s a lot of latinos and you get those people and the people who are 500 miles away who come out to support their club because this doesn’t happen often,” Saucedo said. “We say MLS and Liga MX are rivals and a lot of the fans want to see that. It’s going to be a different culture [Wednesday] night.”