How Will Pablo Mastroeni Attempt To Replace Everton Luiz Against Portland?
SALT LAKE CITY – Pablo Mastroeni and Real Salt Lake will be forced to make at least one change ahead of the Western Conference Final against Portland. Everton Luiz is unavailable for selection due to yellow card accumulation, while captain Albert Rusnák returns from his bout with COVID-19.
Speaking to the media following Wednesday’s training session, Mastroeni admitted that he already knows what moves he will make prior to the game.
Mastroeni is yet to change the starting XI this postseason, utilizing the same lineup he did at Sporting Kansas City as he did against the Seattle Sounders.
Realistically, Mastroeni has two options as it relates to the loss of Luiz. He will likely either drop Damir Kreilach to play as a more holding midfielder alongside Pablo Ruiz and allow Rusnák to play in his preferred 10 position.
Or he will start Nick Besler alongside Ruiz in the center of the park, Kreilach at the 10, Rusnák on the left, Jonathan Menéndez on the right, and either Bobby Wood or Rubio Rubin at the point of the attack.
Of the nine players on the bench for both the Seattle and SKC playoff wins, Nick Besler was the only holding midfielder. Either Besler replaces Luiz, or Mastroeni finds a solution with the players starting.
Without question, Mastroeni will almost certainly start Rusnák. Speaking to the media today, the Real Salt Lake captain stated that he “didn’t miss a beat” and that he has been doing “fitness since Sunday.” Rusnák returned to training for the first time since testing positive on November 21st today (December 1).
Next Match Info
Real Salt Lake will travel to Portland for the Western Conference Final this upcoming Saturday, December 4th, with kickoff scheduled for 4:30 p.m.