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Storylines to Watch: Real Salt Lake at Vancouver Whitecaps FC

New Turf

For the third time this season, Real Salt Lake will play on turf.  However, this turf was installed over the last few weeks for the FIFA Women’s World Cup.  BC Place will host the final on July 5 and several matches over the Group Stage and Knockout Rounds, but Saturday marks the first time any team will play on the new Polytan LigaTurf surface.

That may mean different bounces than RSL is accustomed to on the grass at Rio Tinto Stadium, but it should be an improvement over previous artificial surfaces and others around the league.

Continued Squad Rotation

Finishing off another string of three games in eight days, RSL has already utilized 15 different starters and 17 different players overall.  Head Coach Jeff Cassar will have some choices ahead of Saturday’s match and will have options at the ready with Joao Plata and Javier Morales making their returns from injury this week and Sebastian Jaime being at the ready for Wednesday’s match against the Galaxy.

With Jamison Olave serving a red card suspension, it is already assured that Cassar will have a different back four than in each of the previous two matches, but time will tell how many more changes he will make over the rest of the lineup.

Revenge on the Mind

RSL felt deserving of at least a point in its previous matchup with Vancouver on April 18.  The 1-0 defeat that day after RSL went down a man (and later two men) was the club’s first loss of the season and thus far the only loss at Rio Tinto Stadium.

With an opportunity to make good on that match and spoil Vancouver’s first match on the new surface, RSL will have plenty of motivation.

Finishing Strong

In RSL’s first stretch of three games in a week, the club went 1-0-2 with two home matches.  It can beat that mark with a win on Saturday after winning 2-0 against New York City FC at home last Saturday and falling 1-0 to the LA Galaxy on Wednesday at the StubHub Center.

The club is also looking to cap a busy month of May that has seen it play seven matches.  With a 2-2-2 record thus far, RSL has a chance to finish strong with a victory and climb back into a coveted playoff spot.