So Real Salt Lake will head into Philly as one of just two teams without a loss, and the reason is simple – Depth – nothing more, nothing less. While RSL started the season with a completely new coaching staff, new head coach and all new assistants, the roster remained largely the same as the team that played for MLS Cup . The depth of that roster has been called upon early due to injuries, last weekend RSL was missing Robbie Findley, Joao Plata, Sebastian Velasquez, Jordan Allen, Aaron Maund, Kwame Watson-Siriboe, Tony Beltran, Nick Rimando, and Chris Wingert and before the match was over lost Luis Gil and yet the team managed to escape with a 0-0 road draw against their MLS Cup rivals Sporting Kansas City.
RSL has seen any number of the lesser known or newer players step up early in this season, a couple of names that Philly fans may not know much about are Luke Mulholland, a midfielder picked up from NASL side Tampa Bay Rowdies who has shown a real offensive spark early on and gives RSL another great option in the midfield. Up top RSL’s forward corps has seen Olmes Garcia step up to partner with Alvaro Saborio and while he hasn’t scored yet, his speed and size help him create space for Sabo and forces defenses to adjust their tactics. Devon Sandoval who was a critical part of RSL’s Open Cup and MLS playoff run last year is back healthy and saw his first action last weekend, he brings size and strength up top with an almost endless energy that makes him a pleasure to watch. Perhaps no player was more important last weekend than RSL’s number two keeper Jeff Attinella who made several amazing saves to save the clean sheet and earn the draw. So while attention will almost always be focused on names like Alvaro Saborio, Javier Morales and Kyle Beckerman, I think the difference between RSL and the Union will likely come down to if one or more of these lesser known names can step up yet again.
The Union will be looking for their first ever win over RSL (0-2-4) but I expect that RSL is going to keep their undefeated streak going with a 2-1 win with Saborio and Mulholland getting the RSL goals.