MLS Preview: Real Salt Lake vs Minnesota United FC

by Tyler Creer | July 17 is match day number two for Real Salt Lake in the MLS is Back Tournament, and they prepare to take on Minnesota United FC.  After a dominating win against the Rapids, Real Salt Lake looks to continue their momentum.  Ahead is no easy task, as Minnesota has gone undefeated in 2020; in their three matches this season, Minnesota has scored 10 goals. 

Kickoff is scheduled for 8:30pm MST and will be broadcast on ESPN.  

What’s at stake:

If Real Salt Lake were to win, they could potentially clinch a berth into the knockout round out of the tournament coming out of group D.  However, this also depends on the Sporting Kansas City and Colorado match, who kick off the group D doubleheader for the evening.  If SKC and Colorado finish in a tie OR if Colorado win, Real Salt Lake will advance with a win. If SKC win, things will get interesting going into match day three for group D. Though, with a win and some help, Real Salt Lake can rest easy knowing they’ll be moving onto the knockout round of the MLS is Back Tournament.  

Previewing Minnesota: 

Minnesota opened the 2020 season against Portland and San Jose, erupting for three goals against the Timbers and five against San Jose.  The break in play seemed to have little effect on Minnesota, as they managed to put two past the Sporting Kansas City defense.  However, it is worth noting that Minnesota’s two goals against SKC both came incredibly late in the match, with both occurring during stoppage time.  Kevin Molino headlines this dangerous but depleted Minnesota team.  There are two noticeable names absent from Minnesota’s team: defender Ike Opara and midfielder Ozzie Alonso. 

Although Minnesota is without these two, Real Salt Lake will still need to be really solid on defense.  In their three matches, Minnesota have only averaged about 39.33% of possession.  This could bode well for RSL, as head coach Freddy Juarez loves to hold possession and build up attacking play from there.  

Injury report:

Real Salt Lake were without keeper David Ochoa and homegrown forward Christopher Garcia against Colorado, and there have been no updates on when they could both return to action.  Ochoa has a right thumb injury, and Garcia’s injury is non-soccer related, according to the injury report on MLSsoccer.com.  There is some good news to be reported here, as no new names have been added to the list.  

Predicted starting lineup:

Coach Freddy Juarez ran a 4-2-3-1 against Colorado, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the same starting formation with the same 11.  I do think though that subs will be more of an emphasis this game.  I anticipate to see subs, particularly Giuseppe Rossi and Sam Johnson, have a legitimate impact on this match.  

4-2-3-1

MacMath

(from right to left) Herrera, Glad, Silva, Toia

Beckerman, Luiz

Rusnak, Kreilach, Baird

Martinez 

Match prediction:

It won’t be an easy task for Real Salt Lake, but with Minnesota still without Ozzie Alonso and Ike Opara, they’re suffering two big losses for their midfield and defense.  If Real Salt Lake can control the match like they did against Colorado, I think Real Salt Lake will pick up a 2-1 win.  I predict the goals will come from Corey Baird and Giuseppi Rossi.  With a win, Real Salt Lake can put themselves in the driver’s seat of Group D, with a chance to advance and make some noise in the knockout rounds of the MLS is Back Tournament.  This is a very important match not only for Real Salt Lake, but for all of group D.  

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