Real Salt Lake vs. New York City FC | 2017 MLS Match Preview
Real Salt Lake vs. New York City FC
2017 MLS Match Preview
Rio Tinto Stadium – Salt Lake City, Utah
Wednesday, May 17 – 9:00 pm ET
WATCH: MLS LIVE
Andrea Pirlo is one of the greatest players in the history of Italian soccer and his performances in 2016 helped lead New York City FC to the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference and the first playoff appearance in club history. But the 37-year-old has been left of the starting XI for Patrick Vieira's side in the last three games, when the team won twice and got a point on the road in a place many teams leave with zero.
In those first two games, Pirlo was replaced by Under-20 Venezuelan international Yangel Herrera. After that first match, Vieira explained the reasoning for his absence was that he wanted "to be a little more solid defensively." The team won that game 3-2 at Columbus and followed it up with a dominating performance against Atlanta United FC. Their 1-1 draw on Sunday against FC Dallas was another bright spot, this time without Herrera, who departed for the U-20 World Cup.
Pirlo was not available in that game either, with Vieira choosing to fly him straight to Salt Lake City for this match. He'll likely get the start against a struggling Real Salt Lake side and will need to impress if he wants to reclaim his starting spot going forward.
Real Salt Lake
Real Salt Lake are at one of their lowest points since their first year in MLS back in 2005. Following last Saturday's 4-0 drubbing at New England, the Claret-and-Cobalt have lost their last four games by a combined score of 13-1 and have the lowest points per game average of any team in MLS. Buried by injuries all season, they're now without four of their young stars -- who are off at the U-20 World Cup -- and their two cornerstones -- Nick Rimando and Kyle Beckerman -- have been on the shelf for the past couple of weeks.
The good news is that Rimando and Beckerman could return to Mike Petke's lineup on Wednesday, according to a video on RSL.com.
Their return would certainly be a much-needed boost for RSL, but they'll need more than Beckerman and Rimando to turn things around. They're still struggling with injuries along the backline, Demar Phillips being the latest, and the player who was supposed to lead the attack, Joao Plata, has yet to score in 449 minutes this season. Recent signee Jefferson Savarino looked good in limited time on Saturday, and could help an attack that is in dire need of a spark.
- Suspended: None
- Int’l Duty: F Brooks Lennon, D Danny Acosta, D Justen Glad, F Sebastian Saucedo (U-20 World Cup)
- Injury Report: OUT – F Chad Barrett (knee surgery), D David Horst (knee surgery); QUESTIONABLE – M Jordan Allen (right quad strain), D Demar Phillips (hamstring injury), D Tony Beltran (back injury), M Kyle Beckerman (calf strain), GK Nick Rimando (hamstring injury)
Projected Starting XI (4-3-3): Nick Rimando – Reagan Dunk, Aaron Maund, Chris Schuler, Chris Wingert – Kyle Beckerman, Luke Mulholland, Albert Rusnak – Jefferson Savarino, Yura Movsisyan, Joao Plata
Notes: Real Salt Lake have won just one of their last nine home games (1-4-4). They have been outscored 12-8 across those nine matches, which includes being shut out five times ... Real Salt Lake are conceding an average of 2.6 goals per game over their last seven matches (2-5-0), allowing 3+ goals five times. They have been shut out in three consecutive matches – the club has not gone scoreless in four straight regular season MLS matches since May 21-June 18, 2005, when they did not score in five consecutive matches.
New York City FC
Pirlo will probably not be the only one to get a shot to prove himself at Rio Tinto Stadium, as NYCFC has a busy week ahead of them. Not only did they have to travel to Dallas ahead of their game on Sunday, but they flew to Utah on Monday and will have to head down to Orlando before their game on Sunday (7 pm ET; FS1 and FOX Deportes in US | MLS LIVE in Canada).
NYCFC have already lost two games to Orlando this season and they will not want to get swept by their Eastern rivals. A road game against a non-conference opponent is unlikely to take precedence against one against an intra-conference foe.
With that said, we could see heavy rotation in Vieira's squad. 35-year-old David Villa could be in line for a rest after starting all but one game this season, while six other players have started every game this season (Alexander Callens, Maxime Chanot, Jack Harrison, Maxi Moralez, Alex Ring). Any of those players could be in line for a break on Wednesday night.
- Suspended: None
- Int’l Duty: M Yangel Herrera (U-20 World Cup)
- Injury Report: OUT – D Ronald Matarrita (high ankle sprain); QUESTIONABLE – F Khiry Shelton (hamstring injury)
Projected Starting XI (4-3-3): GK: Sean Johnson — Ethan White, Maxime Chanot, Frederic Brillant, Ben Sweat — Andrea Pirlo, Mikey Lopez, Tommy McNamara — Jonathan Lewis, Sean Okoli, Rodney Wallace
Notes: NYCFC have scored 16 goals from open play this season. Only Atlanta United (19) has scored more ... New York City FC are unbeaten in their last three away contests, the third time in franchise history that they have had a streak of at least three road games without a loss. Last season, the club had a five-game road unbeaten streak that lasted from May 8 to July 6, 2016
- Overall: RSL 2 wins (5 goals), NYCFC 0 wins (2 goals), 0 draws
- At RSL: RSL 1 win (2 goals), NYCFC 0 wins (0 goals), 0 draws
Referee: Silviu Petrescu
Assistant Referees: Daniel Belleau, Ian Anderson
Fourth Official: Younes Marrakchi