Real Salt Lake vs. Atlanta United FC | 2017 MLS Match Preview
Real Salt Lake vs. Atlanta United FC
2017 MLS Regular Season
Rio Tinto Stadium – Sandy, Utah
Saturday, April 22 – 9:30 pm ET
WATCH: MLS LIVE
After a dispiriting start to the year that culminated with the firing of ex-head coach Jeff Cassar, RSL have gotten back on track under Petke, winning their last two matches to improve to 2-3-2 on the year. Saturday’s match will be the fourth of four straight road games for expansion club Atlanta, who drew at Seattle and at Toronto before giving up a late goal to lose 2-1 at Montreal last weekend.
Real Salt Lake
Petke’s arrival has led to a pair of wins, but a 19-year-old attacker is stealing the show from the new RSL boss.
Brooks Lennon, an RSL academy product who signed with Liverpool in 2015 but returned to Salt Lake this winter on a year-long loan, has made the right wing spot his own over the last month, starting five straight matches and showing well on both sides of the ball. He had his best performance yet last Saturday at Colorado, scoring the game-winning goal – a 25-yard low laser through traffic – to give RSL a 2-1 win over their Rocky Mountain Cup rivals.
“It’s just another step in the building process. He has to continue to build off of this,” Petke told reporters when asked about Lennon earlier this week. “As a team, we showed that we could get it done. That’s two wins out of two since I’ve taken over, and all credit to the players for getting it done. But for Brooks personally, I’m very happy for him.”
For the US Under-20 international, Saturday’s match will be a solid litmus test. Not only will he be going up against a senior US national teamer in Atlanta left back Greg Garza, but he’ll be sharing a field with three of the more dynamic younger attackers in MLS in Atlanta trio Miguel Almiron, Hector Villalba and Yamil Asad. If Lennon outplays the opposing team's talented young attackers, RSL will have a good shot at making it three-straight wins.
- Suspended: NONE
- Int’l Duty: NONE
- Injury Report: OUT: F – Chad Barrett (knee surgery, 4-6 months), D – David Horst (knee surgery, 6-8 weeks), D – Justen Glad (knee injury); QUESTIONABLE: M – Jordan Allen (right quad strain), D – Tony Beltran (back injury), D – Aaron Maund (left hamstring strain), M – Sunny (hamstring strain), F – Joao Plata (quad injury)
Projected Starting XI (4-3-3): Nick Rimando – Danny Acosta, Chris Schuler, Chris Wingert, Demar Phillips – Kyle Beckerman, Luke Mulholland, Albert Rusnak – Brooks Lennon, Yura Movsisyan, Sebastian Saucedo
Atlanta United FC
Atlanta United handled the first three matches of their daunting four-game road trip fairly well, drawing at Seattle and at Toronto before falling victim to a late goal in a 2-1 defeat at Montreal last Saturday.
While they earned impressive points at the Sounders and TFC and played well enough to take a result out of Montreal, Atlanta will be watching their discipline this Saturday. The Five Stripes have been shown a red card in two straight matches, with Asad getting tossed in Toronto and Leandro Gonzalez Pirez earning a straight red – and getting called for a penalty – late in the first half against Montreal. Pirez's red card was rescinded on Wednesday, however.
“When you really look at the red cards, are they really red cards, you know?” striker Kenwyne Jones told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution after the loss at Montreal. “We have those decisions going against us, but we have to find a way to eliminate that happening and try and keep all 11 men on the field.”
- Suspended: D – Leandro Gonzalez Pirez
- Int’l Duty: F – Andrew Carleton (US U-17s), M – Chris Goslin (US U-17s)
- Injury Report: OUT: D – Zach Loyd (groin injury), F – Josef Martinez (left quad injury); QUESTIONABLE: D – Tyrone Mears (right ankle injury)
Projected Starting XI (4-3-3): Alec Kann – Tyrone Mears, Michael Parkhurst, Anton Walkes, Greg Garza – Julian Gressel, Jeff Larentowicz, Carlos Carmona – Yamil Asad, Miguel Almiron, Hector Villalba
This is the first meeting between the two clubs.
Referee: Ricardo Salazar
Assistant Referees: Cameron Blanchard, Peter Balciunas
Fourth Official: Younes Marrakchi