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Real Salt Lake Looking To Surprise San Jose In Transition Ahead Of Midweek Encounter

Photo courtesy: Real Salt Lake

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Real Salt Lake continues to fight for the right to participate in the upcoming 2020 MLS Playoffs as they prepare for their third last regular season match against the formidable San Jose Earthquakes on Wednesday evening.

Currently, RSL sits two points shy of the playoff cut line on 22. San Jose sits one place higher than RSL in the ninth position in the Western Conference on 24 points. The Earthquakes are all square with Vancouver on points but below them on the table due to goal differential.

How San Jose Have Faired This Season

It has been a topsy turvy season for the Earthquakes who managed to make a deep run in the MLS Is Back Tournament eventually being eliminated by Minnesota in the Semi-Final.

When the MLS regular season re-started following the conclusion of the tournament, manager Matías Almeyda was on the brink of being fired after his squad took eight matches before they picked up their first three points. The disappointing re-start had the Quakes on the bottom of the Western Conference and in serious danger of collapsing.

Magnus Eriksson, the Quakes number seven who terrorized RSL during the Round of 16 fixture, departed the club and returned to his home country of Sweden. His departure left a gaping hole in the midfield for the Quakes who found it difficult to create goal-scoring opportunities.

However, Almeyda has recently lit a fire under the players and his team is proving to be a very difficult opponent for anyone who gets in their way.

RSL will have their work cut out for them midweek.

Over the past seven matches, San Jose has won four, drawn once and lost twice.

Real Salt Lake Continue To Fight

Over the last handful of years, RSL has had to earn everything that they have been given and 2020 seems no different.

The Claret and Cobalt continue to press for playoff promotion despite only three games remaining in the regular season.

“I feel like ever since I have been here we have always had to fight for what we got in terms of making the playoffs or not,” Albert Rusnak said on Tuesday afternoon. “We are kind of used to being in this position with whatever it is, three or four games, left in the regular season to be in a spot where we are not guaranteed playoffs but we are still fighting for it,” he added.

Despite the pressure that may surround RSL, the team is doing a good job when it comes to staying positive. Every press conference in which the media speaks to players and Freddy Juarez, they continue to reiterate that the playing group understands the position they are in but are not panicking.

One would assume that it would be easy for RSL to begin panic operations. Making the playoffs in 2020 would be the cherry on top of the cake when you consider to the turmoil that the club has endured. It means something for everyone within the RSL organization.

Real Salt Lake Focusing On Transition

“If you guys (the media) have done your homework, you would have noticed that San Jose gives up a lot of goals within 10 seconds of losing the ball,” Juarez said. “And I am not talking about 5 or six goals, but double-digit goals within 10 seconds.”

San Jose, for anybody who enjoys the game of soccer, is an incredibly entertaining team to watch.

They play man to man defense, which nobody else in Major League Soccer does. They are incredibly aggressive with pushing numbers into their attacking half and are not afraid to take the game on.

However, their aggressive-attacking style of play has inflicted issues for them on the transition.

Because they commit so many numbers forward, they do not do a good enough job of maintaining a defensive structure and when they turn the ball over they are not organized.

If RSL is going to beat the Quakes on the road, one would have to imagine that RSL will need to make the most out of their counter-attacking opportunities.

San Jose Player Spotlight

The key to slowing down San Jose lies in limiting Cristian Espinoza’s touches. He is formidable, in every sense of the word. The Argentine leads the team with eight assists on the season while also adding two goals next to his name as well.

Furthermore, Espinoza’s ability to impact a game does not require multiple touches. He is dangerous even when he does not have many touches.

“It is a challenge to them (Toia and Herrera) for when they meet up with him they do the dual with intelligence,” Juarez said regarding limiting Espinoza. “But also it is a challenge to the team to have the energy to get into transition and limit those isolations and we recover quicker as a team so we can try to create either equal numbers or a numerical superiority to back up whoever gets caught up with him.”

Game Info

Kickoff is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, October 28th.

The match is being played at Earthquakes Stadium and can be streamed for free on KSLSports.com or on the KSL 5 TV app.