The Lions have displayed great team play over the last month and a half, but against RSL, much of the team’s fate will be decided by the outcome of three individual duels.
Dom Dwyer vs. Justen Glad
Dwyer has been a scoring machine in 2018, having already produced five goals in as many matches and helping the Lions to react after a tough start — the team has won every match the forward has played so far. His scoring ability seems to be at its best, with the striker finding the back of the net in a handful of different ways.
In a few hours, though, Dwyer will be faced with one of the most promising center backs of the new generation of American players in Justen Glad. The 21-year-old defender was praised by many last year and he started the season being called up to the U.S. Men’s National Team.
However, the year has not been good for Glad as Real Salt Lake’s defense been the third worst in the entire league, with 16 goals conceded in eight matches. The task of stopping Dwyer can be perceived by Glad as a unique opportunity of reaffirmation and the striker could face an over-motivated opponent in the penalty area.
Sacha Kljestan vs. Kyle Beckerman
Kljestan and Beckerman are two veteran players whose presences are extremely important for their teammates and they will cross paths several times in the center of the field. While Orlando’s No. 10 has been an organizer of the team’s offense, Real Salt Lake’s defensive midfielder plays a pivotal leadership role for a very young team.
Sacha has either scored or assisted in each of Orlando’s last five matches, and keeping the attacking midfielder involved in the team’s offense will be extremely beneficial for the Lions as they have another home match.
At 36, Beckerman has lost a step or two (perhaps because he cut off his dreadlocks?), but he’s a smart player who reads the game well.
Mohamed El-Munir vs. Jefferson Savarino
Two of the most memorable plays made by El-Munir since he joined Orlando City were defensive sprints that he made towards his own penalty area to tackle opponents as they prepared to shoot from dangerous spots.
This Sunday, though, the Libyan might have a tough rival to beat in a race in Real Salt Lake’s winger Jefferson Savarino. The 21-year-old Venezuelan Designated Player is one of the fastest players in the league and showed what he can do last year, when he was responsible for six goals and five assists in 22 matches.
In 2018, Savarino has been limited to only one goal and one assist, but he could put El-Munir in trouble with his technique and be a tough one to chase down because of his speed ,so the left back should avoid some of the mistakes he’s recently made.