Storylines to Watch: RSL v. New York Red Bulls

Real Salt Lake’s performance this week will determine the possibility of roster movements

Real Salt Lake will close out its three-game homestand on Wednesday v. NY and then travel to Colorado to take on the Rapids on Saturday, in what will be one of the Claret-and-Cobalt’s most critical weeks this year. RSL GM Garth Lagerwey has said that RSL’s performances against NY and Colorado will determine if the club will look to make any roster moves before the transfer window closes on Aug. 6. With RSL’s all-time leading scorer forward Alvaro Saborio out with a broken foot, and international absences throughout the month on June, the Claret-and-Cobalt has struggled in front of net. RSL has gone 2-4-3 in its last nine matches, four of which RSL has been shutout.

RSL’s offense gained some life last week against Montreal, with substitute forward Olmes Garcia notching a brace for his first goals of 2014 and his first in over a year. Garcia was the first forward other than Saborio and Joao Plata to find the back of the net this year.

If the Claret-and-Cobalt can continue to tally the goals and get positive results this week, then the roster will most likely remain untouched. Lagerwey emphasized that the priority is to keep the well-cultivated Real Salt Lake locker room unchanged, but how RSL plays this week might affect how the club plans to head into the final stretch of the 2014 season.

Former RSL defender Jamison Olave returns to Rio Tinto Stadium for the first time

Former Real Salt Lake defender Jamison Olave will make his return to Rio Tinto Stadium on Wednesday night for the first time since being traded to the New York Red Bulls at the end of 2012. The Colombian was traded along with fellow fan favorites midfielder Will Johnson and forward Fabian Espindola in a move triggered by salary cap restraints. Olave spent five years with the Claret-and-Cobalt, including winning MLS Cup in 2009, and became one of the principal figures of the club.

One of the best defenders in the league, Olave met his former club last year for the first time since being traded at Red Bull Arena on July 27, 2013 – a heartbreaking 4-3 loss for the Claret-and-Cobalt. RSL will be looking to enact revenge on Wednesday night, but the club and fans will surely have a warm welcome for the former RSL-man.

RSL looks to stay undefeated against New York Red Bulls at home

Real Salt Lake has been quite successful against New York when playing at home in Utah, going undefeated against the Red Bulls in the Beehive state with a 4-0-4 record. RSL is also currently riding a four-game win streak against NY at home, all of which have been shutouts at Rio Tinto Stadium. The Claret-and-Cobalt recorded a 2-0 victory on Oct. 14, 2009, a 1-0 win on Sept. 4, 2010, a 3-0 victory on Aug. 6, 2011 and a 2-0 win in the clubs’ last meeting at Rio Tinto Stadium on March 17, 2012.

Nick Rimando in pursuit of the all-time MLS shutout record

Real Salt Lake veteran goalkeeper Nick Rimando is one clean sheet away from tying retired goalkeeper Kevin Hartman for the all-time MLS shutout record with 112. If the 35-year-old ties the record this weekend, Rimando will have as many cleans sheets as Hartman in 57-less games. Hartman achieved 112 shutouts through 416 games played; Rimando has currently played 358 MLS regular season games. The California native will likely surpass the record this year, with 14 MLS matches left to play in the 2014 regular season.

Will Wednesday’s game be Thierry Henry’s last match in Utah?

Wednesday’s matchup at Rio Tinto Stadium might be New York Red Bulls star and former Arsenal legend Thierry Henry’s last trip  to Utah. The former French international is out of contract with New York at the end of the year and his uncertain future is the current talk of the town. Red Bulls head of global soccer, Gerard Houllier, remarked earlier this week that he thinks the 37-year-old will retire at the end of the season. No one knows for sure what lies ahead for Henry, but the high-profile striker’s influence on the league has been paramount – both on the field and off.

Henry has always held RSL with high regard, praising the Claret-and-Cobalt’s style of play on multiple occasions. If it is in fact his last match at Rio Tinto Stadium, let’s hope it’s a good one – with Real Salt Lake validating his admiration of course.