Next Man Up
Real Salt Lake has been hit by injuries already in the young season, with regular starters Chris Schuler, Javier Morales, Joao Plata and Sebastian Jaime all on the shelf in recent weeks. In addition, Jamison Olave and Sebastian Saucedo will serve red card suspensions on Saturday and Jordan Allen is with the U.S. U-20 National Team. That leaves Head Coach Jeff Cassar without many options in the match against New England.
However the “next man up” mentality is what helped Plata to a 13-goal season last year when he stepped in for an injured Robbie Findley. It’s how Allen has made a name for himself early in the 2015 season. Now we will find out just what RSL has in the tank with its reserves as it faces one of the top teams in the East.
Best vs. East
RSL has a lengthy unbeaten run against the Eastern Conference that dates back to July 27, 2013. In that stretch, RSL has gone 9-0-5, earning 32 points from 14 matches against the Eastern Conference.
Real went 1-0-1 in two home matches thus far this year against the East, drawing Philadelphia in a wild 3-3 affair at Rio Tinto Stadium before a late winner from Allen toppled Toronto FC 2-1.
World Cup Friends, MLS Foes
At the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, Jermaine Jones and Kyle Beckerman formed a formidable pairing in the midfield for the U.S. National Team in helping the U.S. earn a spot in the Round of 16. Now, they will face off for the first time at Gillette Stadium. Jones got a late start to the 2015 season after off-season hernia surgery while Beckerman has been a mainstay for RSL – he is one of only four players to start all six matches thus far.
The two players are very similar, not just in how they style their hair in dreadlocks, but also in how they command respect from their teammates and opponents with their tireless work rates. Although Jones has featured as a center back due to an injury-riddled backline for New England, the two will most likely clash at some point in the match.
Home Away From Home
After traveling 2,100 miles in a plane, it’s hard to imagine Real Salt Lake would feel at home in Foxborough, Mass. However, in the last three matches between RSL and New England at Gillette Stadium, RSL has won 2-1 in 2010, 2-0 in 2011 and 2-1 again in 2013.
Gillette Stadium could hardly be any further from Rio Tinto Stadium in its atmosphere and playing surface. While Rio Tinto Stadium is an intimate, 20,200-seat stadium with a natural grass field, Gillette Stadium is an NFL stadium through and through. The 68,756-seat stadium is mostly empty, as the Revs limit capacity to 20,000 and the FieldTurf surface makes for some serious adjustments in the match. Yet somehow, RSL has been able to keep a seven-match unbeaten streak against New England that has included three road wins.
TV coverage for Saturday’s match starts at 5 p.m. MT on KMYU.