Real Salt Lake Managing Orlando Bubble As Knockout Matches Loom

Jul 20, 2020, 2:05 PM
Sam Johnson #50 of Real Salt Lake clears the ball off a Minnesota United corner kick during a Group...
Sam Johnson #50 of Real Salt Lake clears the ball off a Minnesota United corner kick during a Group D match as part of the MLS Is Back Tournament at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex on July 17, 2020 in Reunion, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Real Salt Lake still sits atop Group D following the second round of matches at the MLS Is Back tournament, however, with one game left they are yet to secure their spot in the knockout rounds.

Following an impressive opening game against Colorado Rapids in which RSL eased to a 2-0 victory, cracks started appearing in game two against Minnesota United. The ball movement entering the attacking third was far from ideal against United, who much like RSL boast to be one of the better defensive teams in the league.

The situation is not easy for RSL. They are sanctioned to their Orlando bubble where it is very hot, humid and uncomfortable. They are also being asked to play games at odd times of the day. Their first two matches were played at 10 p.m. eastern, while their third and final group stage game will be played at 9 a.m. The players and staff are all away from their family and loved ones who are back in Salt Lake City. However, as Freddy Juarez alluded to in his press conference earlier today, “we do not want to be anywhere else, no excuses,” has been the message in which he has shared with the playing group.

Albert Rusnak Injury Update

Unfortunately, one of RSL’s key players, Albert Rusnak, suffered a hip flexor injury midway through the first half of the match against Minnesota United. His status remains questionable ahead of Sporting Kansas City.

“He (Rusnak) felt better today so he was doing a little bit of exercise off the field. We think tomorrow he will be even better so it is really just day-to-day. That is just the total honesty,” Juarez said. “We have not had a chance to go anywhere else to get him a second opinion so we are crossing our fingers that he will be available for us but if not there have been a lot of games in the past where he has been on international leave or has had an injury and someone else had to step up.”

Next Match

RSL’s final group stage match against Sporting Kansas City is scheduled to kick-off at 7 a.m. on Wednesday, July 22.

Tom Hackett is a Utah and Real Salt Lake Insider for and host of the It’s Utah’s World Podcast (Utah Football themed) and The Lion’s Den Podcast (Real Salt Lake themed). Follow him on Twitter: @TomCantHackett.

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