Real Salt Lake vs. New York Red Bulls
Rio Tinto Stadium, Sandy, Utah
Saturday, March 7 @ 2:00 PM ET
Real Salt Lake +133 | Draw +245 | New York Red Bulls +190
Red Bulls Hit the Road
New York Red Bulls coach Chris Armas called last week’s season opener versus FC Cincinnati a must win game and was happy to pick up the points with 3-2 win. Why was the first game of a 34 season schedule so important in the coach’s eyes?
Because when New York travels to face Real Salt Lake in their home opener this Saturday, it will begin a schedule that sees RBNY play eight of the next 11 matches on the road.
Armas will be looking to kick off that difficult stretch with a win or at least one point over a Salt Lake team that managed to secure a point in a dour 0-0 draw at Orlando in week one.
Juarez Earns Job
RSL coach Freddy Juarez was eventually handed the full time job by RSL after he initially replaced former Red Bulls coach Mike Petke on an interim basis last season.
The team performed for Juarez, going 7-4-2 to qualify for the playoffs where they fell to eventual champions Seattle.
Zack McMath has taken over in goal for the club as MLS legend Nick Rimando retired. Still, that 0-0 scoreline versus Orlando does not come as much of a surprise. RSL was third best in MLS in goals allowed last season while scoring less than all but last place Vancouver in the Western Conference.
Led by former Manchester City center back Nedum Onuoha, Salt Lake’s defense remains stout but the question of where the goals will come from remains. Designated Player Albert Rusnak has contributed 10, 10, and 7, in his three years at RSL, so he can be counted on to lead the attack. Juarez will look to Damir Kreilach to chip in from his position at the top of the attack. while U.S. international Corey Baird will also be counted on.
Last Chance for Rossi?
RSL has taken a flyer on 33 year old former Italy international, New Jersey born Giusseppe Rossi who hasn’t played in two years. Rossi’s career has been hampered by injuries but RSL is hoping to catch lightning in a bottle.
Rossi made his RSL debut versus Orlando working 11 minutes.
Sloppy D for Red Bulls
New York was happy to claim the full three points from their season opener, but they know they never should have allowed a very poor FC Cincinnati side hang around and nearly steal a point.
Armas may have USMNT defender Aaron Long and presumed first choice keeper Ryan Meara available with both players listed as questionable, although the Red Bulls have cover with center back Amro Tarek and keeper David Jensen both ready to reprise their starting roles from last week.
Armas used Daniel Royer, normally a winger, upfront paired with Brian White. Midfielder Cristian Casseres and two assist man Florian Valot ran the midfield smoothly with fullback Kyle Duncan bombing down the right flank.
RSL Provides Sterner Test
It all worked a charm versus Cincinnati, of course, Cincy allowed the most goals in a single MLS season in 2019, so get out your grain of salt. Real Salt Lake will provide a much tougher challenge at Rio Tinto.
Armas showed that he is willing to be flexible in his thinking with his 4-2-2-2 versus Cincinnati and Long would bring solidity to a defensive unit that allowed a pair of sloppy goals in their home opener.
Reinforcements for NY
New York is reportedly close to signing 22 year-old left-back Jason Pendant from French Ligue 2 club FC Sochaux. The Red Bulls lost All-Star defender Kemar Lawrence to Anderlecht in the off-season, leaving a large hole to fill. Armas turned to rookie Patrick Seagrist in the season opener.
Seagrist was solid but Pendant will at least provide Armas with an option.