Orlando City Head Coach Jason Kreis gets another shot at the club where he made a name for himself, Real Salt Lake, looking to extend the team’s winning streak to six. Mike Petke brings his squad into Orlando City Stadium for the first time ever, looking to bounce back from a 2-0 loss to the Vancouver Whitecaps.
RSL went into the year as a playoff hopeful, but the Utah club has struggled with consistency and keeping players healthy.
Real Salt Lake made a late charge last season only to fall just short of a playoff position. What are expectations under Mike Petke in year two?
Lucas Muller: Going into the 2018 season under Mike Petke, expectations ran extremely high. After a strong run at the end of 2017, the first preseason under Petke, and some new signings, everyone felt the team was going to come out swinging. This did not happen. Real has struggled more than expected, including their worst-ever home loss (to LAFC 5-1). As of last week, RSL had 11 players on the injury list. The hope is that as players become healthy, play improves. A realistic expectation in 2018 is to make the playoffs. Anything beyond that will be an improvement over last year.
RSL has had a rollercoaster beginning to 2018. What have been the positives through two months of league play and what needs to improve?
LM: Some of the positives of 2018 is simply having more points than we did this time last year. RSL Academy product Correy Baird has been a highlight as well. The young attacker brings a lot of energy to the field and a willingness to try creative things. Nick Rimando, who will be 39 next month, is as solid as ever.
What do you see as the key match-up in this game that could decide the outcome?
LM: The question for RSL going to Orlando is if a very young defense can shut down seasoned attackers like Dwyer and Kljestan. This will mean that the partnership between Kyle Beckerman and MLS newcomer Damir Kreilach needs to not only be defensively solid, but also connects to the attack.
What injuries/suspensions will keep players out this weekend and what is your projected lineup and predicted final score?
LM: This injury list is from last week but I don’t foresee a ton of changes:
Out: Tony Beltran (knee), Jordan Allen (knee), David Horst (knee), Alex Horwath (achilles).
Questionable: Taylor Peay (knee), Shawn Barry (hamstring), Demar Phillips (ankle), Marcelo Silva (groin), Luis Silva (ankle).
Probable: Aaron Herrera (hamstring), Luke Mulholland (hamstring) — Likely back, he played a full 90 with the Monarchs on Monday.
Predicted Lineup: Nick Rimando; Brooks Lennon, Justen Glad, Nick Besler, Adam Henley; Kyle Beckerman, Damir Kreilach; Corey Baird, Albert Rusnak, Jefferson Savarino; Joao Plata.
Thanks again to Lucas for taking the time to answer some questions about this week’s opposition.