Children’s Mercy Park, SKC Await Real Salt Lake In Western Conference Showdown
SALT LAKE CITY – Real Salt Lake is on the road this weekend as they look to remain undefeated in 2022. It will be a rematch of the Conference Semifinal from a year ago as RSL heads to Children’s Mercy Park for a date with Sporting Kansas City.
Rich Recent History
A year ago, Real Salt Lake stunned Major League Soccer by booking a place in the Conference Final when they beat SKC for the second time in a month with a late Bobby Wood winner to prevail as 2-1 victors.
Weeks prior, Damir Kreilach scored with the final kick of the game in the final regular-season game against SKC at Children’s Mercy Park to book a spot in the playoffs.
Without question, SKC will be out for revenge this weekend.
Real Salt Lake is still depleted and is still dealing with a long injury list, unfortunately. However, Rubio Rubin is set to make his return from offseason surgery having played 60 minutes for the Monarchs last weekend which he pulled up well from.
Captain Damir Kreilach and Aaron Herrera are dealing with calf injuries and are questionable. Marcelo Silva has an injured toe, and Sergio Córdova has a right knee concern and is both also listed as questionable.
— Real Salt Lake (@realsaltlake) March 25, 2022
David Ochoa, Nick Besler, and Justen Glad will not make the trip due to injury.
Justin Meram is also unavailable as he is on international duty representing Iraq in the Asian World Cup Qualifiers. Meram did not come off the bench in Iraq’s most recent 1-0 win over United Arab Emirates midweek. Meram and Iraq will next play Syria on March 29.
SKC has injury concerns of their own as Alan Pulido, Gadi Kinda, Logan Ndenbe, and Marinos Tzionis are all expected to miss this weekend’s fixture due to injury. Other key players such as Khiry Shelton, Daniel Salloi, and Johnny Russell all returned to training for the first time this week and are listed as questionable.
— Aly Trost (@AlyTrost) March 22, 2022
SKC Season To Date
It has been a poor start for Peter Vermes and SKC to begin the 2022 campaign. They have only managed one victory in four matches played with the lone win coming against Houston in the second week of the season. The other three fixtures have resulted in losses against Atlanta, Colorado, and Chicago respectively.
Furthermore, SKC has only scored three goals in four games while conceding eight goals. No SKC player has scored more than once and only 24% of shots are going on target. Compared to Real Salt Lake, which has two players (Tate Schmitt and Bobby Wood) who have each scored a pair of goals. RSL is hitting the target on 30% of its shots.
Interestingly, Vermes has opted to play three across the backline, as opposed to his traditional four, to start the 2022 season. Whether the change is permanent or due to injury is yet to be known but Real Salt Lake is expecting to see a different shape from SKC than what they did late last year.
RSL Key To Success
Pablo Mastroeni explained what he shares with his players before every game. He asks that they focus on “discipline, organization, and communication.” He also expressed the importance of ensuring his team enters the half-time interval with the game still in reach, especially when they play on the road.
Ultimately, Mastroeni shared that the plan entering SKC is to withstand expected early pressure from the home team, find the rhythm and tempo of the game, and settle in, and then if the game is still up for grabs midway through the second half he plans on pushing for the victory.
“We may have to absorb a bit of an attack early on, but really thinking about how we are going to settle into the game, particularly with the ball,” Mastroeni said midweek. “The mindset that we had going into the playoffs last year, which was making sure that we are going into halftime in a good way hasn’t changed from the first game this season. We want to make sure that we don’t put ourselves in a bad spot, especially on the road, and so discipline organization, communication, those three things, if we can do that and keep the scoreline in place where we feel like we can make a push towards the end then that is what we will do.”
The fixture is scheduled for Saturday, March 26, with kickoff at 5 p.m.
It will be available to stream for free via the KSL Sports and KSL 5 TV apps or on KSL Sports dot com.
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