Real Salt Lake takes on Minnesota United at 7:30 P.M. mountain time at Rio Tinto Stadium in a matchup of the contentious April 24 game between the two clubs. Both teams will be wearing the special PrimeBlue jerseys that the league debuted for this weekend. Here are my three questions for the fixture:
Is a rivalry still brewing?
After RSL's 2-1 win over Minnesota earlier in the season, goalkeeper David Ochoa gifted Minnesota's supporter section with the game ball. Minnesota's players took exception, confronting Ochoa on the field after the match. In his post game presser, Loons' coach Adrian Heath went as far to say that the young RSL 'keeper was "not that good." The setting has every indication of a rivalry in the making, except Ochoa is away in Switzerland on international duty for the United States. We will see if the game still has an extra edge due to the history between the teams, or if Ochoa's absence takes the wind out of the sails.
2. Who steps up for Minnesota?
After starting the season with four straight losses, Minnesota eked out 1-0 home victories in their last two games. With only five goals on the season, Minnesota has been lacking some creative ability in the final third. To further compound the issue, playmaker Emanuel Reynoso and winger Ethan Finlay are both out with left knee injuries. A struggling attacking team without two creative players will have questions about where the goals will come from. Look to see who, if anyone, takes on a bigger role in the attack.
3. Who's between the pipes for RSL?
With Ochoa out on international duty, RSL will need a new starting goalkeeper. Andrew Putna was the main starting goalie last season, while Zac MacMath is a long time MLS starter who also played a decent amount of games last year for RSL. Both keepers were a bit shaky in net last season, so the backline will need to be strong to protect whoever starts. I would expect Putna to be the starter given he beat out MacMath last year, although MacMath has been the substitute of choice so far this season with more bench appearances.
Image courtesy of Real Salt Lake