Real Salt Lake is on the road to face the #1 team in Major League Soccer on Saturday, here’s what you need to know ahead of the match:
1. Real Salt Lake is coming off a disappointing 1-1 result at Rio Tinto Stadium against Minnesota United last weekend. Damir Kreilach put the Claret & Cobalt ahead early but couldn’t maintain their lead late on.
Kreilach’s goal made him RSL’s leading goalscorer with 11 goals and 6 assists, Albert Rusnak has 10 goals and 7 assists, Joao Plata has 8 goals and 7 assists, and Jefferson Savarino has 6 goals and 10 assists.
2. The draw brought RSL to 45 points, but they still dropped one position to 5th place with five matches to go. Three of the remaining five matches are against western conference teams, Portland (home and away) and Sporting Kansas City (away). Both Portland and SKC sit above RSL on the table. After a “weird” match against Minnesota United, it wouldn’t be surprising to see a change or two to RSL’s lineup, especially with Marcelo Silva’s return to health and the recent signing of veteran defender Nedum Onuohua.
Saturday’s match will be just the second all-time between RSL and Atlanta, with Atlanta taking all three points from their 2017 meeting at Rio Tinto Stadium. Real’s back-t0-back road wins (Houston 8/18 and Colorado 8/25) improved their away record to 3-9-2 and they are unbeaten in their last four matches overall at 3-0-1.
OUT: Tony Beltran (knee 10/15/17), Jordan Allen (knee 6/16/17), Alex Horwath (achilles 4/18), David Horst (achilles 6/26)
QUESTIONABLE: Demar Phillips (hamstring 9/10)
3. League-leading Atlanta United are coming off a dramatic 4-3 win at San Jose Earthquakes on Wednesday night, putting them four points ahead of NYRB in the Supporter’s Shield race and eastern conference. Josef Martinez leads the league with a record 30 goals and 5 assists, Miguel Almiron has 12 goals and 13 assists, and Hector Villalba has 6 goals and 8 assists. Martinez is averaging one goal per game (49 GP 49 G) but has had a cool September with just two goals so far compared to the sixteen he scored June-August.
OUT: Garza (right shoulder), Zizzo (right knee), Ambrose (right knee).
Our coverage of Real Salt Lake at Atlanta United FC begins on Saturday, September 22 at 4 P.M. with Lauren Mason Beck and Spencer Warne, kick-off with Bill Riley and Jay Nolly is at 5 P.M on ESPN 700.