REAL SALT LAKE

Real Salt Lake Travels East For First Time This Season As Date With Fire Awaits

Oct 22, 2021, 3:59 PM
Photo courtesy: Real Salt Lake...
Photo courtesy: Real Salt Lake

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Real Salt Lake will travel to Chicago for their second, and final, fixture against an Eastern Conference foe this season.

The match will mark the 30th game played for Real Salt Lake this season, with only four regular-season games, remaining following the away game this weekend.

The first test against an Eastern Conference opposition came on May 15 when Rio Tinto Stadium hosted Nashville to a nil-nil draw. Given the current climate of the world as it relates to the COVID-19 pandemic, the league made travel amongst conference opponents a priority ahead of the 2021 season.

The RSL Buzz

Real Salt Lake has played themselves into the eighth position in the western conference with a game in hand following results midweek dropping Real Salt Lake from fifth to outside the playoff cutline. The gap between Real Salt Lake and the fourth-placed Portland Timbers stands at only four points, however, putting more emphasis on the trip to Chicago.

Furthermore, the legend of interim manager Pablo Mastroeni grew. Earlier this year, he became the first former player in Colorado history to have his number retired by the club, and last weekend he guided his former club’s rival to a victory over his former team.

Since Mastroeni has taken the interim role at Real Salt Lake he has won five of the nine games that he has managed. He has helped transform Real Salt Lake into a formidable goal-scoring machine and has acted as a calming presence as he fights for the interim tag to be removed.

Under Mastroeni, Real Salt Lake has scored 18 goals. When former manager Freddy Juarez was in charge, the club managed to score 30 goals in 20 matches. Simple math would state that Mastroeni is averaging 2 goals a game in charge while Juarez averaged 1.5 goals a game.

On the opposite side, Mastroeni has found life challenging when it comes to conceding goals. Through his nine games in charge Real Salt Lake has conceded 22 goals, including monstrous losses against Portland and Vancouver. Juarez conceded 23 goals in his 20 games in charge.

Nonetheless, under Mastroeni the team looks far more dangerous. If Real Salt Lake is serious about contending for the MLS Cup in 2021, their chances have certainly increased since the admission of Mastroeni.

The health of the roster is also trending in the right direction. Only Zack Farnsworth, Marcelo Silva is listed as out. Whereas, Toni Datkovic is questionable after picking up a slight muscle strain during the 2-1 win against LA Galaxy on September 29.

The Chicago Fire

The Fire is a team that has not performed nearly as well as they would have liked. They currently sit in the 12th position in the east, 10 points shy of a playoff position.

Most recently, Chicago played to a nail-biting 4-3 win on Wednesday evening against Cincinnati, relying on Serbian midfielder Luka Stojanović to score the game-winner with the final kick of the fixture.

However, the fixture against Real Salt Lake will be the third last game of the regular season. Their playoff aspirations are no longer a reality, rather, they will be relying on pride to help them get over the line against the Claret and Cobalt.

Stojanović leads the team in goals with eight while Slovenian international Robert Berić sits on seven goals through 31 games played. Spanish midfielder Álvaro Medrán leads the assist category having notched a team-high of six.

The Fire is led by manager Frank Klopas who, much like Mastroeni, is also acting as the interim following the sacking of Raphaël Wicky on September 30th. Klopas is yet to secure his first three points, through his first two games he has suffered a 3-1 loss against Toronto and a 2-2 draw against New England.

The Fire operates in a 4-2-3-1 formation with Berić at the point of attack with Medrán acting as the number 10.

The Fire has struggled to stop opposing teams in both the counter-attack and when building out from the back. However, as soon as the ball is turned over, Chicago frequently looks to expose their opposition on the counter-attack. Real Salt Lake must be wary when in control of the ball.

Match Info

Chicago Fire and Real Salt Lake will kick off at 6 p.m. on Saturday, October 23rd.

The game 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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