REAL SALT LAKE
Real Salt Lake To Host Nashville SC In Front Of Expected Sell Out Crowd
SALT LAKE CITY – Real Salt Lake returns to Rio Tinto Stadium this Saturday evening to host Nashville SC in front of an expected sellout crowd with hopes of improving on an already impressive start to the season.
Season(s) To Date
Through three weeks, Real Salt Lake remains undefeated while Nashville enters the fixture having experienced defeat for the first time a week ago against Dallas.
Interestingly, Nashville has and will continue to play all of its fixtures on the road as their new stadium is set to open on May 1st when they host Philadelphia for the 2022 home opener in week 9. So far, Nashville has beaten Seattle 1-0, drew to Minnesota, and suffered defeat against Dallas after conceding two goals in the final 10 minutes of play.
Honky tonk squad is coming to town.#RSLvNSH | @AFCU pic.twitter.com/XpsvAzSNAo
— Real Salt Lake (@realsaltlake) March 18, 2022
Real Salt Lake, on the other hand, is yet to experience the taste of loss. A draw on the road against Dallas opened their season, a win against Seattle at home followed, and last week’s 3-2 road win in New England has Real Salt Lake proving many MLS pundits wrong.
Manager Pablo Mastroeni has been winning without a core group of leaders. Most notably, captain Damir Kreilach has been nursing a calf strain and has missed the previous two fixtures. He is expected to be sidelined again for Nashville. While goalkeeper David Ochoa and right-back Aaron Herrera will also miss this weekend’s fixture, the jury is still out on the health of Rubio Rubin who is returning from preseason groin surgery.
Fortunately, Mastroeni and Real Salt Lake have relied on other seasoned veterans to lead the way; Bobby Wood, Justin Meram, Pablo Ruiz, Scott Caldwell, Tate Schmitt, Justen Glad, Marcelo Silva, Andrew Brody, and Zac MacMath have all excelled throughout the opening three weeks.
Real Salt Lake is quickly showcasing the depths of its roster, a roster that many anticipated to be depleted following the loss of key contributor Albert Rusnák this offseason.
Real Salt Lake and Nashville have only played each other once, with that fixture ending in a 0-0 draw on May 15th of last season at the RioT. Since then, Nashville has transformed into a better club that is no longer dropping all 11 players behind the ball and fighting for a scoreless road point every road game they play.
Players To Watch
Nashville has three key contributors.
Firstly, their only designated player on their roster; Hany Mukhtar who wears their number 10. Mukhtar has appeared in 49 games dating back to 2020 and has scored 20 goals, provided 17 assists, and has been the catalyst to the majority of Nashville attacks.
Center back Walker Zimmerman is also somebody Real Salt Lake must be aware of. Zimmerman will, inevitably, win most duels in the air and is their most dangerous threat from free-kick and corners. In the 190 games played in Major League Soccer, Zimmerman has netted 18 goals with 17 of those occurring inside the 18-yard box. For as talented and threatening as Zimmerman is as a center-back, he is arguably more dangerous as a threat in the air.
A pair of Boys in Gold are headed back to World Cup Qualifying
— Nashville SC (@NashvilleSC) March 17, 2022
Finally, C.J. Sapong has been around Major League Soccer since 2011 and is still scoring goals. Sapong enters 2022 following a 2021 campaign in which he pocketed 12 goals and 5 assists for Nashville.
Real Salt Lake and Nashville will occur Saturday, March 19, with kickoff scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
The fixture will be available to watch via the KSL Sports or KSL 5 TV app or on KSL Sports dot com.
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