Lock It Up
Real Salt Lake has been very good defensively for the first 30 minutes of each half, but closing down the final 15 minutes has proven difficult through the first 10 matches. Of the 11 goals allowed by RSL thus far, eight have come in the final 15 minutes of a half – four in the first half and four in the second half. Cleaning up those segments of the match would elevate the club from a very good defensive side to an elite one.
Filling In For The Maestro
Javier Morales has missed four of the last five matches to injury and RSL finally broke through in his absence last week with a 2-1 win over the Chicago Fire. While it is difficult to replace the two goals and three assists he netted over the first five matches of the season, RSL showed against Chicago that it can adapt and prosper.
Whether it’s Luis Gil from a central role or Luke Mulholland and Jordan Allen coming from wide positions, Head Coach Jeff Cassar got good contributions from his midfield against the Fire and continuing that trend will be key against the Impact. Allen finished the match with two assists and Mulholland scored his second goal of the season.
Battle of Attrition
Both teams will be playing without players who figured to be key contributors this season. RSL has played without Joao Plata all season and also won’t have Morales, Sebastian Jaime and Chris Schuler to injury. They won’t get any sympathy from Montreal Head Coach Frank Klopas though. The Impact lost midfielder Justin Mapp after just one match and Cameron Porter, a bright spot at forward in the CONCACAF Champions League run, to a knee injury after just two matches. Add to that a knee injury to recent addition Kenny Cooper and both teams will be asking a lot of their depth.
With Montreal playing a midweek match in the Canadian Championships, it could be an opportunity for RSL to pounce.
Allen’s Big Sendoff
Allen learned before last week’s match with the LA Galaxy that he would go with the U.S. U-20 National Team to the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup. He responded with tremendous performances against the Galaxy on Wednesday and Chicago on Saturday. Now with one more match before he departs for Australia to join with Tab Ramos and the U-20s, Allen has one more opportunity to leave his mark on RSL early in his second MLS season. The 20-year-old standout already has one goal and two assists and is gaining confidence by the minute.