Real Salt Lake To Meet Red-Hot Atlanta United
SANDY, Utah – Real Salt Lake is coming off back to back wins as they prepare to host the MLS reigning champs Atlanta United this Friday evening at 7 p.m.
It will be a grueling test for RSL as Atlanta has won seven of their last nine MLS games, despite losing to a New York Red Bulls team that was down a man last Sunday, 1-0. Prior to last weekend’s loss, Atlanta was on a five-game winning streak that also included five consecutive clean sheets.
Sep 22, 2018: ATL 2 – 0 RSL @ Mercedes-Benz Stadium
Apr 22, 2017: RSL 1 – 3 ATL @ Rio Tinto Stadium
RSL’s history does not bode well against Atlanta United as they have never beaten them. This Friday night could be a historic one if RSL can get the better of Atlanta head coach Frank de Boer and his men.
Atlanta is a team filled with talent headlined by their star striker Josef Martinez who broke the MLS record for most goals in 2018 with 34 goals. They did lose their other star player, Miguel Almiron, who left for Newcastle United over the winter for a record $27 million transfer fee, the largest sum to date for an MLS player.
Atlanta is yet to fill the void of Almiron who led the team with 14 assists a year ago. That said, their midfield trio of Hector Villalba, Gonzalo Martinez and Julian Gressel are slowly, but surely, progressing into a very formidable force behind Josef Martinez.
Gonzalo Martinez joined Atlanta over the off season once Almiron departed coming from Argentine powerhouse River Plate where he had 96 appearances and 24 goals. Unfortunately, the 25 year old Argentinian native was recently left off the 23-man Copa America squad by national team head coach Lionel Scaloni.
Despite being the MLS Cup Champions a year ago, it took United four MLS games before they picked up their first three points this season. Thanks to their recent run of form, they currently sit in fourth spot in the Eastern Conference with 20 points.
Everton Luiz came off the bench in the 77th minute against Toronto FC after he was sidelined with a sprained MCL against Orlando City on April 13.
Nick Rimando also started for the first time in five weeks after the veteran goalkeeper hurt his left knee in training prior to the match against FC Cincinnati on April 19.
Kyle Beckerman returned to training this week after suffering a muscle injury two weeks ago in training. He is listed as probable for Friday nights blockbuster match against Atlanta United.
Tony Beltran remains unavailable and has not returned to full training yet.
Sebastian Saucedo, Nedum Onuoha and Mike Petke made the MLS Team of the Week for their performances against Toronto FC last week. Saucedo was also awarded MLS Goal of the Week honors for his strike from 40 yards out in the 28th minute.
The match against Atlanta United will kick off at 7 p.m. on Friday.
The game can be streamed live on KSLSports.com or on the KSL TV app.
KSLSports.com, in collaboration with Real Salt Lake, has launched a new podcast, The RSL Lion’s Den. It is the official Real Salt Lake podcast for all 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 Real Salt Lake.
Head coach Mike Petke and TV analyst Brian Dunseth have launched a new podcast titled Off The Chest. The duo discuss all matters of the world’s game in a entertaining and informative podcast that will be sure to make you laugh.
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