Real Salt Lake vs. Vancouver Whitecaps
2017 MLS Regular Season
Rio Tinto Stadium • Sandy, Utah
Saturday, September 8 • 9:30 pm ET
WATCH: TSN4, TSN5 | MLS LIVE in the US
Nothing's gone right for Real Salt Lake early in 2017, which led to the dismissal of head coach Jeff Cassar and the promotion of Mike Petke from head coach of USL affiliate Real Monarchs to the full MLS side. In the past two weeks Daryl Shore had been guiding the ship, a span which produced a credible draw on the road at New York before the team fell apart in a 4-2 loss at Minnesota United.
The Vancouver Whitecaps have more luck, advancing to the CONCACAF Champions League semifinals and then posting a big, 4-2 win over the LA Galaxy last weekend. New arrival Tony Tchani – acquired via trade with Columbus – had a big hand in that result, as did star striker Fredy Montero.
Real Salt Lake
"Can they get healthy?" is the big question, as RSL were down to their fifth and sixth-choice center backs in the loss at Minnesota. It's a fair bet they'll have at least one of their top four ready to go (probably Chris Schuler), and the good news is that Designated Player attacker Joao Plata has shook off an early-season knock and is 100 percent fit.
The other good news? DP center forward Yura Movsisyan has found the net twice in a row. If RSL are to climb off the bottom of the table, they'll have to find goals.
Significant concerns about the formation remain, though. RSL have cratered over the last two years as they've clung to a 4-3-3 lineup, which hasn't suited the talent on hand. Perhaps Petke will pull the trigger and switch to a version of the 4-4-2?
- Suspended: None
- Int’l Duty: None
- Injury Report: OUT: Chad Barrett (knee injury), David Horst (knee injury); QUESTIONABLE: Jordan Allen (right quad strain), Justen Glad (knee injury), Tony Beltran (back injury), Aaron Maund (left hamstring strain)
Projected Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Nick Rimando (GK) – Chris Wingert, Chris Schuler, Justin Schmidt, Demar Phillips – Kyle Beckerman, Stephen Sunday – Brooks Lennon, Albert Rusnak, Joao Plata – Yura Movsisyan
Note: Real Salt Lake is winless in their last six MLS home games (0-2-4). The last time they went six home games without a win was Oct. 7, 2006 through June 14, 2007. They have only scored once in their last five home games.
Was that second-half explosion against the Galaxy a sign of things to come? The insertion of Montero at halftime and then Tchani at the 65-minute mark turbo-charged what had been, to that point, a very sleepy attack thus far in 2017. It's a small sample size of course, but those two veterans combined with D-mid Matias Laba, playmaker Christian Bolanõs and winger Cristian Techera to run over past and through the Galaxy backline.
The defense, meanwhile, has been no-frills reliable for the most part. There are concerns that they're defending a bit too deep – something Tigres punished in CCL play – but that's been their style for the last couple of years, so it can't be that much of a surprise.
Regardless, the 'Caps feel more balanced and solid after the Tchani trade.
- Suspended: None
- Int’l Duty: None
- Injury Report: OUT: D - Brett Levis (ACL tear), Yordy Reyna (foot surgery), David Edgar (PCL, MCL tear), F - Erik Hurtado (foot contusion)
Projected Starting XI (4-2-3-1): David Ousted (GK) – Sheanon Williams, Kendall Waston, Tim Parker, Jordan Harvey – Matias Laba, Tony Tchani – Cristian Techera, Christian Bolanõs, Alphonso Davies – Fredy Montero
Note: Waston enters this weekend second in MLS with 34 clearances, which speaks to how deep the 'Caps defense sits... given their CCL exertions on Wednesday, don't be surprised to see some amount of squad rotation with the likes of Christian Dean and Jake Nerwinski possibilities along the backline, as well as Russell Teibert and Nicolas Mezquida in midfield.
- Overall: RSL 5 wins (15 goals)... Vancouver 7 wins (21 goals)... 4 ties
- At RSL: RSL 4 wins (10 goals)... Vancouver 1 win (5 goals)... 3 ties
Referee: Baldomero Toledo
Assistant Referees: Ian B. Anderson (bench side), Kevin Klinger (far side)
Fourth Official: Fotis Bazakos