Real Salt Lake vs. Toronto FC | 2017 MLS Match Preview
Real Salt Lake vs. Toronto FC
2017 MLS Regular Season
Rio Tinto Stadium - Sandy, Utah
Saturday, March 4 - 4:30 pm ET
WATCH: MLS Live in the US | TSN1,TSN4 in Canada
Two playoff teams from 2016 will collide in a cross-conference season opener at Rio Tinto Stadium on Saturday, as Real Salt Lake welcome Toronto FC to Sandy, Utah. Both teams have largely opted for continuity and carry over many of the same pieces from last year. That said, newcomers like Victor Vazquez or Albert Rusnak could help provide the difference if they are handed their MLS debuts by their respective sides.
It will be the stars on the field that draw the most attention, however. Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore aim to help TFC get off to a winning start after coming so close to becoming MLS Cup champions last year, while US national team goalkeeper Nick Rimando will anchor RSL's efforts thwart the potent Reds attack and Joao Plata leads the Claret-and-Cobalt front line.
Real Salt Lake lead the overall series between these two clubs, having won eight of their 15 meetings. Toronto FC have prevailed five times in those games, while the other two matches ended in draws.
RSL-TOR All-Time MLS Meetings (15 games)
- at Salt Lake (8 meetings): RSL lead 7-1-0 (19 RSL goals, 8 TOR goals)
- at Toronto (7 meetings): TOR lead 4-1-2 (4 TOR goals, 1 RSL goal)
Referee: Allen Chapman
Assistant Referees: Peter Manikowski (bench side), Jeffrey Hosking (far side)
Fourth Official: Geoff Gamble
Real Salt Lake
Real Salt Lake begin the new season inside the friendly confines of Rio Tinto Stadium, which will come in handy for them given the talented opposition they face. RSL lost a few contributors from last year's squad like Javier Morales, so the onus will be on veterans Rimando, Plata and striker Yura Movsisyan to perform straight out of the gate. Key midfielder Kyle Beckerman is fighting for full fitness after a preseason knee knock, however.
- Suspended: none
- Int'l duty: Danilo Acosta, Justen Glad, Brooks Lennon, Sebastian Saucedo (all US U-20s)
- Injury report: Demar Phillips (hamstring injury), Aaron Maund (hamstring injury), Kyle Beckerman (knee injury)
Projected starting XI (4-2-1-3): Nick Rimando — Demar Phillips, Chris Schuler, Aaron Maund, Tony Beltran — Kyle Beckerman, Sunday — Albert Rusnak — Joao Plata, Yura Movsisyan, Jordan Allen
Notes: A Slovakian international, Rusnak was signed as as Designated Player over the winter to fill the shoes of departing playmaker Morales, who is now with FC Dallas ... Luke Mulholland and Luis Silva are leading contenders to step into the XI should Beckerman not be deemed fit ... All four of RSL's US U-20s are expected to contend for first-team minutes when they return from CONCACAF's World Cup qualifying tournament in Costa Rica, with Glad a probable starter at center back.
- 2017 Team Guide: Real Salt Lake
- Power Rankings entering Week 1
- READ: RSL re-sign Plata to long-term DP deal
- Silva: I always knew I'd come back to RSL
- Meet RSL’s Homegrown Class of 2017
- Real Salt Lake Supporters’ Field Guide
After coming within penalty kicks of lifting their first MLS Cup trophy, star-studded Toronto will once again embark on the journey to try and become champions. Plenty of familiar faces remains as the Reds start that odyssey. The club have kept the majority of their core intact while sprinkling in a couple of new additions. Still, Giovinco, Altidore and captain Michael Bradley will be asked to do much of the heavy lifting starting against RSL.
- Suspended: none
- Int'l duty: none
- Injury report: Ashtone Morgan (stress fracture in foot)
Projected starting XI (3-5-2): Clint Irwin — Nick Hagglund, Drew Moor, Eriq Zavaleta — Justin Morrow, Michael Bradley, Armando Cooper, Jonathan Osorio, Steven Beitashour — Sebastian Giovinco, Jozy Altidore
Notes: Newly-acquired defender Chris Mavinga will not be available vs. RSL, as he has returned to France to be with his wife and newborn child ... Bradley and Altidore got a jump on their preseason due to participation in the US national team's January camp ... Spanish midfielder and FC Barcelona product Victor Vazquez has made a positive first impression on his new team and may see minutes on opening day.