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Real Salt Lake Vs. Sporting Kansas City Preview

Real Salt Lake midfielder Everton Luiz (25) and Sporting Kansas City midfielder Felipe Gutierrez (21) get in each other's faces at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy on Saturday, June 29, 2019. (Spenser Heaps, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY, UtahΒ – Real Salt Lake will return home to Rio Tinto Stadium for the first time this season and will face arch-rivals Sporting Kansas City in the 2021 home opener.

Expectations For RSL

RSL will be welcomed home by 10,000 fans, who will be in attendance after the club and the Utah Health Department came to an agreement on adding extra ticket sales following a positive COVID-19 trend within the state.

Furthermore, RSL enters their home opener, and the second game of the season, after pulling off an impressive 2-1 upset win on the road against Minnesota United a week ago.

The match against Sporting Kansas City, however, will likely be a drastically different contest than what they experienced in Minnesota.

Against Minnesota, RSL surrendered possession and found success on the counter-attack.

This week, however, RSL will likely control the possession and will be tasked with creating goal-scoring opportunities through different avenues. Scoring goals via a counter-attack is very different than scoring goals while controlling the possession.

When counter-attacking, RSL has the ability to utilize more space provided to them. Whereas, when RSL has control of the ball, scoring against a defense that is set in structure can prove more challenging.

There will likely be less space in which RSL can operate in. They will need to be very intentional on where they move the ball while also having a good understanding of the passing patterns. As is often the case, when teams control the possession, players will know where the ball is going to end up multiple passes down the line.

Sporting Kansas City

Furthermore, Sporting Kansas City is no cupcake. Manager Peter Vermes has been at the helm since 2009. His structure is well established and his teams are known for compact, sound defending.

Through two games this year, SKC has only conceded two goals. Both of those goals being absolute screamers in which the defensive back four could do very little about.

Questions still remain unknown regarding the health of two of SKC’s brightest players. Winger Johnny Russell and striker Alan Pulido, who ended the 2020 season with six goals apiece respectively, are yet to start for SKC this season due to injury.

However, there is growing optimism that both players may be available for selection against RSL this week.

Instead, it has been Daniel Salloi who has proven effective this season as he leads SKC with one goal and one assist through two games this year.

RSL vs. SKC will kick off at noon on Saturday, May 1. The match can be streamed on the KSL 5 TV app or on KSLSports.com.

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