Real Salt Lake is headed to the east coast for the first of two consecutive road matches, here’s what you need to know ahead of the match:
1. Real Salt Lake is coming off a 1-0 win at home against Vancouver Whitecaps. Albert Rusnak sunk the penalty kick after Corey Baird earned the call midway through the first half. RSL put on a strong defensive effort throughout the rest of the match, left-back Aaron Herrera made the reserves of the MLS Team of the Week for his performance, and nearly got a second goal to boot but Rusnak’s PK conversion was enough for the home side to take all three points.
Albert Rusnak now has two goals in two games in 2019 while Corey Baird has one assist (two if you count earning the PK call, which, in my opinion, absolutely should).
2. RSL is 9-7-5 all-time versus D.C. United and 1-6-3 at D.C., the lone win in 2016 at RFK Stadium after a rain delay saw the game pushed back a day. Real beat D.C. 3-2 at Rio Tinto Stadium in 2018 as Baird, Rusnak, and Savarino secured the home win for the Claret & Cobalt. Head Coach Mike Petke and goalkeeper Nick Rimando were teammates once upon a time at D.C. United and won the 2004 MLS Cup with the club. Nick Rimando is now 13 appearances away from 500 in MLS play and Saturday’s match will be his first and only time playing at the new Audi Field.
Justen Glad remains out for RSL after breaking his toe on 2/27. Joao Plata is questionable but appears to not have traveled with the team, perhaps preparing for next week’s match at LAFC when RSL will be without Rusnak, Johnson, and Baird due to international duty.
3. The D.C. United team RSL will face on Saturday has a different look and energy to them than the team they faced in 2018, even though the team is pretty similar. The addition of Wayne Rooney and finishing of Audi Field reenergized the Black-and-Red and they were able to finish in fourth in the eastern conference in 2018. DC. United have yet to concede a goal in 2019, with a 2-0 win vs Atlanta and 0-0 draw at NYCFC. Paul Ariolla and Luciano Acosta both scored against Atlanta opening weekend, Acosta and Rodriguez have one assist each.