Real Salt Lake vs. Philadelphia Union
2017 MLS Regular Season
Rio Tinto Stadium - Sandy, Utah
Saturday, May 27 - 8 pm ET
WATCH: MLS LIVE
Who would have thought the last team in MLS to record a win would suddenly turn into the hottest team in the league? But that's where we are with the Philadelphia Union, who, after a dreadful 0-4-4 start, take a club record four-game winning streak into Utah to face struggling Real Salt Lake.
Philly's last three wins came over the course of an eight-day span and was capped by a 2-1 home triumph over the Colorado Rapids this past Saturday. They certainly were fortunate to come away with all three points in that one after falling behind due to a rough first half and then benefitting from a Colorado penalty and red card after the break. But head coach Jim Curtin knows those are the kind of wins a team needs over the course of a season — and ones they simply weren't getting before.
"Confidence is a heck of a thing," Curtin said. "If you could bottle it up and sell it, you could make a heck of a lot of money. You see a group now that previously when we gave up a goal, we might lay down. We might panic. I don’t think we handled it perfectly, but we did push the game in the second half."
Although traveling to Utah will be a tough trip, the Union have a good chance to run their win streak to five against a reeling RSL squad that's dealt with injury issues and is winless in five of their last six.
But with key veterans Nick Rimando and Kyle Beckerman recently returning from injuries, RSL enjoyed a nice 2-1 win over New York City FC last week before playing pretty well in a 1-0 road loss to Seattle on Saturday.
"Listen, I told the guys after the game, and they understand it and I think they agree, this was not a loss tonight," head coach Mike Petke after the Seattle game. "We made so many strides in what we want to do, who we want to be in this one game alone and I'm proud of them."
Real Salt Lake
There's no denying Yura Movsisyan is an important player for RSL but the DP striker's minutes have been sporadic of late. After starting the first nine games of the season, Movsisyan has come off the bench in two of the past three contests while coming off at halftime in the other.
When asked directly if he was frustrated by his diminished role, he was blunt. "Of course I am," he said. "It's a joke. But what can I do? I've just got to continue working hard."
Will Petke put Movsisyan back in the starting lineup against the Union? Or will he keep shuffling a bit as he did last week vs. Seattle when Sunny and Omar Holness got some minutes in the midfield, along with Luis Silva in Movsisyan's place?
- Suspensions: M Kyle Beckerman (Disciplinary Committee decision)
- International Duty: D Danny Acosta (US U-20s), D Justen Glad (US U-20s), F Brooks Lennon (US U-20s), F Sebastian Saucedo (US U-20s)
- Injury Report: OUT – F Chad Barrett (knee surgery), D David Horst (knee surgery); QUESTIONABLE – M Jordan Allen (right quad strain), D Demar Phillips (hamstring injury); PROBABLE – D Tony Beltran (back injury)
Projected Starting XI (4-3-3): Nick Rimando – Tony Beltran, Aaron Maund, Chris Schuler, Chris Wingert – Sunny, Luke Mulholland, Albert Rusnak – Jefferson Savarino, Yura Movsisyan, Joao Plata
Notes: Real Salt Lake have won just two of their last 10 home games (4L-4D). They have been outscored 13-10 over their last 10 home games. ... Real Salt Lake’s 6.47 percent conversion rate (including blocks) is the lowest in the league this year. D.C. United (7.5 percent) is the only other team with a conversion rate of less than 8 percent.
The Union saw their shutout streak come to an end at 378 minutes last week but their defense remained stingy as they allowed the Rapids only one shot on target. And they continue to do it on the backs of players who weren't expected to play a big role as last week Giliano Wijnaldum made his MLS debut at left back, alongside rookie Jack Elliott (a fourth-round pick in this year's draft), Oguchi Onyewu (out of soccer for two years) and Ray Gaddis (a reserve last season).
Fabinho will likely return to the lineup in place of Wijnaldum and play his 100th MLS game but the other three guys have been solidifying their starting spots in recent weeks, even with rising stars Keegan Rosenberry, Richie Marquez and Josh Yaro waiting in the wings.
It must be said, too, that the Union's rejuvenated defensive effort has stemmed from strong play in the defensive midfield from Alejandro Bedoya and Haris Medunjanin, as well as Andre Blake looking more and more like the player who won MLS Goalkeeper of the Year honors last season.
- Suspended: None
- International Duty: Derrick Jones (US U-20s), Auston Trusty (US U-20s)
- Injury Report: OUT – M Maurice Edu (left ankle/left tibia surgery recovery), Brian Carroll (lumbar disc herniation), M Fabian Herbers (right adductor partial avulsion); QUESTIONABLE – M Roland Alberg (left quad strain), D Josh Yaro (shoulder surgery), M Ilsinho (right gastric strain)
Projected Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Andre Blake – Raymon Gaddis, Jack Elliott, Oguchi Onyewu, Fabinho – Alejandro Bedoya, Haris Medunjanin – Chris Pontius, Ilsinho, Fafa Picault – CJ Sapong
Notes: Philadelphia’s 4-0 win over D.C. United on May 13 ended an eight-game away game skid (4L-4D). The Union scored multiple goals just once during that stretch. ... Philadelphia have scored seven headed goals so far this year, the most in the league and two fewer than Colorado and D.C. United have scored in total.
In nine meetings against Real Salt Lake, Philadelphia have yet to win a game. The last two games in Salt Lake have ended in draws with each team scoring multiple goals on both occasions.
- Overall: Real Salt Lake 3 wins (16 goals) … Philadelphia 0 wins (11 goals) … Ties 6
- At Philadelphia: Real Salt Lake 2 wins (10 goals) … Philadelphia 0 wins (6 goals) … Ties 2
Referee: Fotis Bazakos
Assistant Referees: Peter Balciunas, Apolinar Mariscal
4th Official: Daniel Radford