Opportunity For RSL
Real Salt Lake has momentum from a dramatic 2-1 win over Sporting Kansas City on Sunday at Rio Tinto Stadium and is hoping it can continue its run of good form – even if that form hasn’t always meant results. Joao Plata and Sebastian Jaime are scoring goals and Javier Morales has been masterful in the attacking third, creating scoring chances for himself and his teammates.
The opportunity also arises because the Red Bulls have faltered since a 3-0-4 start to the season, going just 1-5-1 since then while losing four consecutive matches.
RSL captain Kyle Beckerman will miss the match due to yellow card accumulation and New York’s Sacha Kljestan is out after picking up a red card over the weekend. Lloyd Sam also is not expected to start due to injury. That leaves big holes in the midfield for both clubs. How they respond to those missing pieces could be crucial.
Salt Lake has had a steady stream of midfielders rotating around Beckerman and Javier Morales, with John Stertzer, Luke Mulholland and Luis Gil taking up the bulk of the playing time. For New York, Sal Zizzo and Dane Richards have filled in when the group of Kljestan, Sam, Dax McCarty and Felipe Martins has been broken up.
Bradley Wright-Phillips led the league in scoring last year with 27 goals. He has just five this year, but has been getting his scoring chances – including two missed PKs over the weekend.
Real Salt Lake’s defense did a good job of slowing another prominent goal-scorer on Sunday in Dom Dwyer and even while Dwyer was able to nab a goal against the run of play (and arguably from an offside position) he was kept quiet most of the night. Can RSL’s back four do the same with another scoring threat in Wright-Phillips?
Plata in the Big Apple
OK, so Red Bull Arena is far from Manhattan, but there are still the bright lights of the big city beaming down as RSL meets the Red Bulls in Harrison, New Jersey. No better time for Plata to break through with his first MLS goal of 2015. He has been dangerous in the attack and nearly scored in the last two league matches. Could his mid-week goal last week in the U.S. Open Cup be a harbinger of things to come?