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Intelligence Report: Scouting Real Salt Lake with RSL Soapbox

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It's time again to go behind enemy lines to get more information on Orlando City's next opponent. Randal Serr, editor over at RSL Soapbox, drops by to give us the scoop on the Real Salt Lake.

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

It's time to get the second half of the MLS season started! This Saturday night, Orlando City heads west to do battle in with Real Salt Lake on the fourth of July in a game that starts really late on the East Coast (10 p.m.). Can the Lions keep their magic against Western Conference opponents going in the dry air of Utah?

Here to help us make sense of RSL is Randal Serr, an editor over at our SB Nation sister blog, RSL Soapbox.

Who are three players from RSL that Orlando City fans should know about?

Randal Serr: Javier Morales, Joao Plata, and Chris Schuler. Javier Morales is the true number 11, the playmaker for the team. Just a few games ago he had 10 key passes leading to goal scoring chances which tied an MLS record. He seems to only get better with age. Joao Plata was the team leader in goals in 2014 and is just getting back from injury and finding his form again. He is looking sharper every game and has really helped RSL's sputtering offense take off. Chris Schuler should be making his return and he is the team's best defender. He has been sorely missed over the past couple of months due to injury.

What is the team's preferred style of play and formation?

RS: This is a hotly contested point of debate for fans. Over the past seven or eight years RSL has consistently used the diamond formation which focuses on possession and purposeful build up. Now that Jason Kreis coaches NYCFC, he uses it there as well. RSL has moved away from the diamond and has moved towards a system with three forwards. It hasn't worked that well thus far, mostly due to the key players that would make this system work being unavailable for one reason or another.

What are RSL's strengths and weaknesses so far in 2015?

RS: Their strengths are that they are fantastic on set pieces. This is in large part due to Javier Morales, but also due to fantastic execution on everyone's part. The set piece goal that RSL had against Columbus actually made #2 on SportsCenter's top 10 plays of the day which is saying something since ESPN does not really embrace soccer yet. Their weaknesses thus far are inconsistency on both sides of the ball. I maintain that once the preferred 11 is on the field, many of these problems will solve themselves. They are creating more scoring chances with their preferred forwards now back from injury. Once all the defenders return, they should be completely shored up.

What are the fans' expectations for this year's RSL squad?

RS: RSL fans have high expectations since RSL has made the playoffs every year since 2008. They have also featured in a few championship finals with largely unsuccessful outcomes except in 2009 MLS Cup. If RSL does not make the playoffs this year, you can expect the fans to demand that some heads roll.

What is your predicted starting XI and score prediction?

RS: Jeff Attinella; Tony Beltran, Chris Schuler, Elias Vasquez, Demar Phillips; John Stertzer, Luke Mulholland, Javier Morales; Joao Plata, Sebastian Jaime, Devon Sandoval.

I expect RSL to get a much-needed win at home in a 2-1 final score.

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Big thanks to Randal for helping us get to know more about our new enemies.