SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH – New York City FC get only a moment to breathe as they move from Frisco to Rio Tinto Stadium in Salt Lake City for their second match in four days.
City and RSL have clashed twice before, with RSL coming out on top both times with a combined 5-2 scoreline. The last time the two clubs played in Rio Tinto, RSL came away with a 2-0 win.
With a hard-fought point still fresh in the minds of many NYCFC players and fans, the squad must set that aside and get ready to reset against a depleted Real Salt Lake side fraught with difficulty both on and off the pitch. While City is without midfielder Yangel Herrera while he is with Venezuela for the U20 World Cup, Real Salt Lake is missing four of their top players to the competition, all with the US U20s. RSL Forwards Brooks Lennon and Sebastian Saucedo, and Defenders Justen Glad and Danny Acosta are all away in South Korea, while Rio Tinto mainstays Kyle Beckerman and Nick Rimando have been out of the lineup due to injury.
RSL are on a four-match losing streak, being outscored 13-1 by their opponents in that span and are goalless in three of those four.. New boss Mike Petke has pointed out the squads “lack of energy and movement” as a main culprit in their current struggles. The former Red Bulls coach has faced many hard, direct questions in his short tenure and to his credit, has given honest responses.
Asked if he thought turning around the struggling club would be as difficult as it has been: “Probably not this difficult, to be honest with you. But I knew that we would have to go down to get back up. I knew that.” After a match against FC Dallas in which he stated “We don’t have a formation right now,” Petke changed things up last Saturday against New England to a 4-4-2, even sitting leading-scorer Yura Movsisyan (4 goals) in hopes a new look would help him figure out how to stop the bleeding.
His squad lost 4-0.
While RSL is relying on its depth to fix its problems, NYCFC will be turning to their reserves to spell some starters during a condensed week. Joining the club in Salt Lake City will be the likes of Andrea Pirlo, Shannon Gomez, RJ Allen and Ugo Okoli – all of whom may see time Wednesday night.
City come in to Rio Tinto unbeaten in three straight away matches, their third such streak in club history. However, this match has all the makings of a classic trap game. RSL is a weak opponent, and NYCFC will be playing some rotational guys. It is imperative that players like Mikey Lopez, Okoli and Frederic Brillant all perform to the best of their ability, and maintain the level of excellence Patrick Vieira has preached in training since the beginning. Brillant showed signs of indecision at the back in his only start this season, and Okoli has been notably staying late to work on his finishing after training has finished.
That said, RSL is very slow as a team without their bright young stars. They are prone to error and have made a habit of giving up early goals. It will be imperative for City to start the match off with their foot on the gas and net an early goal – something they have yet to do against RSL. So far this year, NYCFC has scored seven of their 18 team goals in the first half; we will see if Vieira emphasizes early aggression or maintains his club’s slow, building style of play.
NYCFC XI (3-5-2): Johnson; Brillant, Chanot, Callens; Lopez, Ring, Lewis, Pirlo, Camargo; Okoli, Villa
Real Salt Lake XI (4-3-3): Rimando; Dunk, Maund, Schuler, Wingert; Mulholland, Beckerman, Rusnak; Savarino, Movsisyan, Plata
Sc0re: 3-0 to City
NYCFC: Shelton (Hamstring), Matarrita (High Ankle Sprain); Herrera (Int’l Duty)
RSL: Acosta, Glad, Lennon, Saucedo (Int’l Duty)
Where to Watch:
TV: YES (tape delay) 12am
Stream: Fox Sports GO app
Radio: WFAN Online