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Real Salt Lake Preparing For First Encounter With FC Cincinnati

Real Salt Lake forward Sam Johnson (50) fires a shot past Orlando City goalkeeper Brian Rowe (23) for a goal during the RSL versus Orlando City soccer match at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy on Saturday, April 13, 2019. (Steve Griffin, Deseret News)

SANDY, Utah – Real Salt Lake heads to Cincinnati, Ohio to face the MLS newcomers, FC Cincinnati. It will be the first trip to Nippert Stadium for Mike Petke and his players, as they hope to string consecutive wins together for the first time this season.

Real Salt Lake is coming off an impressive 2-1 victory at home against the talented Orlando City SC. In the match, which snapped a four-game losing streak for RSL, Sam Johnson opened his MLS scoring account in the 17th minute, while FC Cincinnati is returning home after being defeated by Carlos Vela and LAFC 2-0.

Injury Update

In the 28th minute against Orlando City last weekend, Everton Luiz went down and was substituted after an apparent left knee injury. Luiz was immediately ushered to the nearest hospital for further MRI scans. On The Lions Den podcast RSL public relations director Matt Gaschk informed listeners that Luiz has suffered an MCL sprain. It was news that came with great relief, as the team had first feared it could potentially be an ACL tear. According to Google, an MLC sprain can keep a player sidelined from anywhere between 4-6 weeks while an ACL tear can keep a player out of matches for a year.

Striking Power

RSL fans have been waiting patiently for a striker. Since the departure of Álvaro Saborío in 2015, RSL have not been able to find a player that can score goals on a consistent basis.

Sam Johnson however seems to be the saving grace. Johnson has started the last two games for RSL, and has looked the part at the number nine position. His versatility and work rate has impressed his coach. After the Orlando game Mike Petke commented on Johnson stating, “Sam is an honest player and a hard worker.”

Johnson is effective no matter the situation, when the ball is at his feet he can beat you with skill and speed, he has the ability to win headers, he chases down defenders and forces turnovers in his own half and his runs off defenders shoulders open up space for the likes of Albert Rusnak and Damir Kreilach to operate in.

Who Is FC Cincinnati?

FC Cincinnati has won two games, drawn two games and lost two games. As a new club, they are a dangerous team considering they are playing with house money, there are no expectations for them. This is the first year in which they are a part of the MLS and nobody, including themselves, have any idea of what to expect.

As of late, manager Alan Koch has been playing a 4-4-2 formation, however, earlier in the season he was embarking on a 4-2-2-2.

Kenny Saief is their go-to man up top. The U.S. international has two assists and a goal next to his name, and looks to be a talented striker. Saief is currently on loan from Belgium club, Anderlecht, where he made 12 appearances last year.

The Cincinnati midfield is led by Swiss player Leonardo Bertone. Bertone comes from one of Europe’s most prestigious clubs, specifically for developing young talent, BSC Young Boys. Bertone is a talented player and can break midfields open with his touch and precision passing.

Through seven games this season, Cincinnati have scored 8 times and conceded 10, for a goal difference on -2. Compare that to RSL who have scored only 7 times and conceded 14 for a -7 goal differential.

Broadcast Info

The match against FC Cincinnati will kick off from Nippert Stadium on Friday at 5:30 p.m.

The game can be streamed on or on the KSL TV app.

The Lion’s Den, in collaboration with Real Salt Lake, have launched a new podcast, The Lion’s Den. It is the official Real Salt Lake podcast for all your club news and updates. KSL Sports analysts Tom Hackett and Spencer Warne, along with RSL PR director Matt Gashck break down the games and discuss important club matters.

To listen to The Lion’s Den, click here. It is available on iTunes, Google Play or wherever podcasts are found. Please rate and subscribe to The Lion’s Den for all things RSL.


RSL Schedule
Real Salt Lake
Los Angeles
Real Salt Lake
Real Salt Lake
Toronto FC
Real Salt Lake
05/24/2019 @ 7:00 pm
Real Salt Lake
05/29/2019 @ 5:30 pm
Real Salt Lake
06/01/2019 @ 5:00 pm
Real Salt Lake
New York
06/22/2019 @ 6:00 pm
Real Salt Lake
06/29/2019 @ 8:00 pm
Sporting Kansas City
Real Salt Lake
07/03/2019 @ 8:00 pm
Real Salt Lake
Western Conf. Standings
W-L-T Pts.
Los Angeles FC
9-1-4 31
7-1-5 26
7-2-2 23
Los Angeles
7-5-1 22
5-4-3 18
FC Dallas
5-5-3 18
Real Salt Lake
5-6-1 16
San Jose
4-6-2 14
3-6-4 13
3-6-2 11
Sporting Kansas City
2-4-5 11
1-9-2 5