Real Salt Lake Back Home As Debut Fixture Against Austin FC Awaits
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Real Salt Lake will host Austin this upcoming Saturday for the first time in club history, and coming off a grueling three-game road trip a week ago, the stakes have never been higher.
The Austin Press
Austin is a team that likes to be aggressive, specifically when the opposing team passes the ball inside. RSL will need to be clean and sharp on the ball this weekend if they hope to dictate the game.
“They are in a 4-3-3 and are really aggressive in the initial buildup,” Juarez said earlier this week. “It almost looks like a 4-2-4 so they are ready to press with the opposite winger. If you play an interior pass they are very aggressive towards that and you have to have a quick bounce out to relieve pressure to a spare man, an outside back.”
Austin will look to suffocate RSL in the midfield. As soon as RSL plays a ball into the heart of the pitch, Austin will throw multiple numbers towards the ball with the hope of forcing a quick turnover.
RSL will need to be poised. The passing will need to be crisp.
Although, if RSL can navigate its way out of pressure in the heart of the midfield, passing lanes and space will subsequently open.
However, as important as it will be for RSL to be sharp on the ball, do not expect manager Freddy Juarez to only play its most technical players. Finding the correct balance in the midfield will also be integral for RSL to secure three points this weekend.
The pressure continues to mount on RSL.
Following the last game’s conclusion when RSL lost 3-2 on the road to Portland, captain Albert Rusnák stated that this upcoming fixture against Austin is a “must-win” for his team.
Teammate Nick Besler was not yet willing to admit that the Austin game is a must-win. However, both players agree that the upcoming fixture is the season’s most important game given the current standings.
Fortunately, regardless of what happens this weekend, the Major League Soccer season just ticked over the halfway mark on the 2021 season. RSL still has plenty of games remaining on their schedule to peg back points that were lost in the first half of the year.
Players To Watch
For Austin, the midfield is led by talented chance-creator Alexander Ring. The former New York City FC product is enduring his first season with Austin and has scored one goal through 15 appearances. Ring leads the midfield group in more ways than statistics can show, however, he is technical yet physical and often proves very problematic for opposing teams.
Cecilio Domínguez leads Austin with four goals on the season. The crafty winger was previously teammates with newly signed RSL winger Jonathan Menéndez at Argentine club Independiente. Domínguez, much like Menéndez, is dynamic on the ball and prides himself on beating defenders via the dribble. Domínguez has also added two assists to his tally.
Nevertheless, Austin has struggled in the goalscoring department when you compare their numbers with the rest of the league. Austin has been shut out in 10 of their last 13 matches. They rank last in MLS for goals scored with 13.
David Ochoa Update
RSL starting goalkeeper David Ochoa will likely be unavailable for a fourth consecutive game. The 20-year-old prodigy has been dealing with a quad injury but during recovery suffered a setback and is not where Juarez would like him to be health-wise.
“No he is not, he is still trying to recover,” Juarez said when asked if Ochoa was back to full fitness. “He had an injury to his leg, the quad, but then another part of his leg started flaring up so just making sure that the leg strength is there to really start doing the soccer stuff and it is not quite there yet like we would like it so we are not rushing it,” he added.
Besides Ochoa, the rest of the RSL roster is relatively healthy. Jeizon Ramirez is the only player listed on the injury report.
RSL and Austin will kick off at 8 p.m. on Saturday, August 14, from Rio Tinto Stadium.
The match will mark the debut of the first-annual Asian-American Pacific Islander Night at the RioT where RSL hopes to broaden its relationship with the local AAPI community by donating a portion of the ticket sales to Manuia Group, which aims to provide students from the Pacific Islands the opportunity to receive higher education.
The match will be available to stream for free via the KSL Sports & KSL 5 TV apps or on KSL Sports dot com.
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