SALT LAKE CITY – Real Salt Lake will travel to Minnesota this upcoming Sunday evening with the hope and intention of closing the gap between them and league leaders LAFC.
Following last weekend’s 0-0 draw against Columbus at Rio Tinto Stadium, Real Salt Lake fell into the third position in the Western Conference. Austin FC continues its promising start to the season with last night’s 1-0 victory over Charlotte and subsequently moves into second place, two points clear of RSL and five points shy of LAFC.
Nevertheless, Real Salt Lake enters the clash against Minnesota in good form and confidence. However, the loss of Bobby Wood to an abductor injury remains a concern as manager Pablo Mastroeni attempts to find the best-attacking option alongside Sergio Córdova. Last week, Rubio Rubin started but failed to insert himself into the game besides a first-half shot that was saved off the post.
Last year Real Salt Lake opened the season at Minnesota and Anderson Julio scored a brace. During Mastroeni’s midweek press conference, he eluded potentially starting Julio over Rubin.
“Losing Bobby [Wood] just recently and how we want to attack has changed with Rubio [Rubin] and Sergio [Córdova],” Mastroeni said. “I think it takes time to build those relationships, we are continuing to find different ways that suit the players that are currently playing and put them in the best positions to help us attack,” he added.
“Ironically in the last couple of days Anderson [Julio] has looked the brightest that he has looked since he arrived.”
Fortunately, Real Salt Lake has been remarkably compact defensively having only conceded 19 goals throughout the opening 17 games of the season. Real Salt Lake has one of the best backlines in all of MLS, while goalkeeper Zac MacMath deserves to be selected as an All-Star given he is tied atop the league in saves with 60.
On the road this season, Real Salt Lake has managed two wins, four losses, and three draws with the most recent road result occurring in Vancouver when RSL conceded a stoppage-time goal to lose 2-1.
Minnesota enters Sunday evening having played in a midweek nailbiter against LA Galaxy on the road which they were able to prevail 3-2. Midfielder Joseph Rosales was shown a red card in the 95th minute and will serve a one-game suspension against Real Salt Lake.
The player for Minnesota that Real Salt Lake is most wary of is Emanuel Reynoso, who wears the number 10. Reynoso scored an amazing goal against LA when he cut back onto his left foot from 25 yards out and found the top left corner of the net, half an hour later he added another goal to solidify his brace. Reynoso creates and distributes the ball as well as anyone on Minnesota United and will likely play a pivotal role if Minnesota ends up beating RSL.
“Reynoso is the man that really conducts everything for them,” Mastroeni said. “So I think if we can find a way to neutralize him, regardless if he is playing in front of our midfield or behind, it has to be done as a collective and with good communication, but if we can neutralize him then we feel like our backline has been in a great way. He is the x-factor and we have to be aware of him at all times,” he added.
Interestingly, Reynoso came off in the 75th minute on Wednesday evening against the Galaxy and will likely be available to start against RSL on Sunday.
Real Salt Lake and Minnesota United will kick off at 6 p.m. on Sunday, July 3.
The match will be available to stream via the KSL Sports and KSL 5 TV apps or on KSL Sports dot com.