Match: Real Salt Lake vs. Philadelphia Union
Time: 8:00 PM Eastern, 7:00 PM Central, 5:00 PM Pacific
Venue: Rio Tinto Stadium (Sandy, Ut.)
Television: Comcast Sports Net, KMYU
Streaming: MLS Live (Subscription Only)
Referees: REF: FOTIS BAZAKOS AR1: Peter Balciunas AR2: Apolinar Mariscal 4TH: Daniel Radford
All-time Record: 0-3-6, -5 GD
What RSL will look like:
Its been rough seas for Real Salt Lake this season. Having gone through one coach already in 2017, the Union will be facing a former sideline foe in Mike Petke. The newly hired manager hasn’t exactly experienced great success. Petke has only managed his side to nine points from nine games. As we all have experienced, steering a floundering club in the right direction isn’t an overnight thing.
RSL is still dangerous, and are undefeated against the Union in nine matches all time. They line up one of the better (yet quiet) strikers in the game in Yura Movsisyan. Albert Rusnak has enjoyed mild success as RSL’s big transfer in. It will be interesting to see how the Union’s compact shape deals with Rusnak for the first time. One thing I do know is that RSL still have Joao Plata. Plata is one of my favorite players to watch and he always causes fits for the Union. Look for this to be no different.
What Philadelphia will look like:
The Union are in uncharted territory. They’ve never won four games before and have just taken three points from Colorado at home for the first time in history. They can’t possibly continue that form can they?
It looks like it isn’t too far-fetched to suggest the Union stretch their streak to five games. It wasn’t the usual destructive romp last weekend, but the Union showed grit in their comeback. Haris Medunjanin continues to be fantastic, and his partnership - I’ll say it again - with Ilsinho and Alejandro Bedoya, is absolute fire. It’s been fun to watch those three dictate the pace of games.
What’s even better is that despite a personnel change on the back line, the Union still only allowed just one shot on goal last week against the Rapids. It went in, but that’s besides the point. The defense is buying in to the compactness philosophy, and its working wonders. With an excellent shot stopper in Andre Blake, the Union have completely flipped the script on their defense.
What to expect:
This puts me in a tough position. There are those teams the Union struggle against. You know, the LA Galaxy, Houston Dynamo, and RSL. The Union went to LA and held the Galaxy scoreless. The Union beat Houston 2-0 with some terrific team goals. I really do think that this is the Union’s trap game. Riding high, travelling far, and facing lesser competition is the recipe for a loss. I don’t think it will suddenly unravel the feathers, but this is a game where expectations will be managed.
Projected lineup: GK Andre Blake; RB Ray Gaddis, RCB Oguchi Oneywu, LCB Jack Elliott, LB Fabinho; CDM Haris Medunjanin, CDM Alejandro Bedoya; RM Chris Pontius CAM Ilsinho, LM Fafa Picault; ST CJ Sapong
Result: Real Salt Lake 1-0 Philadelphia Union