Columbus Crew SC split the home and away series with the Philadelphia Union with a narrow win at home and a poor showing on the road. They now face their third game in eight days and a cross country trip including a flight from Philadelphia to Salt Lake City.
The team will once again be missing playmaker Federico Higuain for the fourth straight game as he manages knee pain. Lalas Abubakar and Jonathan Mensah picked up red cards in the midweek loss, so the team will be thin at the back and may be moving back to a back four.
Real Salt Lake will have their star players with Joao Plata and Albert Rusnak ready to go against the shaky Crew SC backline. RSL’s backline is finally getting healthy and have their preferred Silva/Glad partnership. The only key absence is head coach Mike Petke as he was ejected last week after disagreeing with a refereeing decision, his anger extending to his legendary post game rant.
Keys to the Match:
Fight the fatigue: Real Salt Lake had a full week to recover, Columbus traveled from Philadelphia to Salt Lake City. The travel and the games in quick succession is compounded by the short roster that Crew SC has now, they traveled with 20 players for the road trip and didn’t bring any more from Columbus, that means key players like Justin Meram, Ola Kamara, Wil Trapp, and Artur will have to fight through some heavy legs.
Next man up: Abubakar and Mensah will be out and Crew SC may be returning to the back four. That means that either Nicolai Naess or Josh Williams (or both) will have to step up and produce for a defense that has had plenty of bad moments. This may be a chance for Naess to put in a good shift and force his way back into the rotation.
Fast and furious: With players like Plata, RSL has the capability to open the game up through direct play. Crew SC defensive spacing will give plenty of opportunities to players who want to run the channels. The home side will be looking to find those spaces.
How to Watch:
Date/Time: Saturday July 29th, 8:00 p.m.
Venue: Rio Tinto Stadium (Sandy, Utah)
Watch: The CW Columbus, Spectrum Sports, BCSN2 (Channel Guide)
Stream: MLS Live
Listen: CD102.5 FM (English Broadcast) La Mega 103.1 FM (Spanish)