One of the most difficult places to play in MLS
Salt Lake City gives a whole new meaning to home field advantage. At 1,288 metres of altitude, Rio Tinto Stadium can truly be considered a fortress: RSL has only lost one home game in MLS in 2018 and has only dropped points on two other occasions in Utah. The picturesque view of the Rockies in the background, however, probably has no role to play in the struggles visitors face.
Mike Petke and his troops are in the middle of a renewal season after one to forget in 2017. Right in the middle of a run to the MLS Cup Playoffs in the West, where only 10 points separate second to 10th place, Real Salt Lake sits in sixth, four points ahead of our compatriots, the Vancouver Whitecaps FC. Here are the three keys to the game in Mormon country, this Saturday at 10pm (TVA Sports).
- Dosing efforts
It will be interesting to see the intensity level deployed by the Impact. No doubt that fitness coach Robert Duverne has seen more than a few games in these circumstances, and the Bleu-blanc-noir’s players will have been put in the best dispositions, but the lack of oxygen in high altitude places will make itself felt in the players’ muscles.
- Integrate the newcomers
If Bacary Sagna isn’t ready to integrate into the line-up – and isn’t even in North America yet – the two other players recruited by the Impact on Wednesday, striker Quincy Amarikwa and midfielder Micheal Azira, joined the team in Salt Lake City and will be available for head coach Rémi Garde. It is therefore possible to see the Impact’s newest additions in action on Saturday; if that’s the case, a certain adaptation period is to be expected.
- Be stingy defensively
At home, RSL scores the majority of its goals in the first half. It’s an important part of the club’s success: score the first goal or take an early lead at home, before letting the opponent run after the score, open up more, and then hit them on the counter with four or five players. The best way for the Bleu-blanc-noir to annihilate this game plan? Defensive rigour – and scoring first.