It has been a couple weeks since we’ve been able to link up with a fellow blog to help preview an upcoming FC Dallas game. Today we’re happy to get back into that again as we welcome in RSL Soapbox’s Lucas Muller to help break down tomorrow’s opponent.
You can view our answers to their questions on their website today.
BDS: RSL had the fortunate...or rather unfortunate task of playing in the Leagues Cup this week. How is Mike Petke approaching that tournament? Should we expect some key players rested for the weekend?
RSLS: Real Salt Lake fielded a strong lineup against Tigres on Wednesday, but ultimately fell 1-0. Mike Petke told the media that the organization had decided to treat Leagues Cup as a priority, which sounded as if it was a decision being handed down to him, but he clarified via Twitter that he was a part of that decision. It was an exciting game. RSL was competitive throughout and even had a stronger start. They hit the post once or twice and were unfortunate not to score. Joao Plata, who had been very close to signing with another Liga MX team, was a constant danger. He seems to really turn it on when he wants to move or to be playing with his national teams and Wednesday was one of those nights.
After the match, I asked Petke if there was a sense of relief at not having to split interest between Leagues Cup and MLS. He said he was sorry for the players missing out on a bonus, but ultimately his attention was focused on Dallas. This wasn’t a game that seemed particularly important to any RSL fans. The strongest support of it seemed to be that it was a fun novelty, and there’s a good chance that a midweek game could hamstring the team as the head to a city where they’ve always struggled.
BDS: Back when these two sides met in March, there was a lot of talk about it being the “Homegrown Derby”. How have RSL’s HGPs come along this season since that meeting? Has anyone stood out more than you guys expected them to?
RSLS: RSL’s academy is one of the best things about the club. Bofo Saucedo, Corey Baird, Brooks Lennon, Aaron Herrera, Justen Glad, and Donny Toia are all regular players and they have all earned their place on the team. For me, Glad has been the best in many ways. He seemed to drop off a bit in 2018, but seeing him this season, he’s regularly starting and playing very well. RSL has three starting caliber center backs in Marcelo Silva, Nedum Onuoha, and Glad. Justen has started almost every game and looked the part.
Donny Toia, who was RSL’s first Home Grown Player signing, recently rejoined the club from Orlando. He’s been an effective left back and having him in that position has really freed up Aaron Herrera to play on the right. Much of 2018 saw Herrera on the left as Danilo Acosta fell out of favor. Brooks Lennon as right back was an experiment that never quite worked out, though he does still see minutes from time to time.
BDS: RSL is right above the red line for the playoffs right now. How are RSL fans feeling about their club’s playoff chances this season? Would missing out be a surprise to anyone?
RSLS: RSL fans are rarely optimistic about anything in the past few years, but the sense seems to be that they should make the playoffs. Missing entirely would be a huge disappointment to the fanbase, but I wouldn’t expect many to be truly shocked. Real have been consistently inconsistent and the west is so competitive this season that you can’t afford to drop points at home to teams like Minnesota United, even when they’re in good form. After an impressive win against LAFC during the 2018 playoffs, there was a real belief around the team, but they were just edged out by Kansas City. That just shows that RSL can go either way and it’s extremely difficult and frustrating when you never know what you’ll see.