Here are your Three Questions But Really Six.
We ask them...
The Blue Testament: What was your opinion on the very early season firing of Jeff Cassar? And what do you think of Mike Petke thus far?
Matt Montgomery: Jeff Cassar had been struggling in 2017. He had struggled in 2016. He struggled in 2015. But he also held a pretty good record as RSL boss, and he really, truly cared about Real Salt Lake. All that made for some conflicted feelings, but it was clear that something around the club had to change — and the coach is one of the things the front office can actually control. In MLS, it's not like you can jettison a team and start over.
Petke's come in and done extremely well to win over supporters. He's obviously doing well in terms of results, despite our loss last weekend, and he's starting to correct some of the tactical issues that made life difficult for RSL. Has he figured everything out? Hardly. But he's extremely open about that, and he's making this an iterative process. It's hard to imagine it having gone too much better for him.
TBT: I know RSL have a painfully long Injury Report. Who will be missing from the Salt Lake squad, and who should we expect to see filling in?
MM: Oh man. Missing in action will be:
- Chad Barrett, surgery
- David Horst, surgery
- Jordan Allen, quad strain
And in the "doubtful" column we've got:
- Tony Beltran, back
- Aaron Maund, hamstring
- Stephen Sunday, hamstring
- Nick Rimando, leg
- Chris Wingert, head
- Joao Plata, quad
- Justen Glad, knee
Don't expect Wingert, Rimando, Glad, or Beltran to make a surprise appearance. Maund and Sunny might be close.
Expect to see a mix-and-match side. Matt VanOekel will fill in at goalkeeper, and he's looked good so far. Danilo Acosta should continue at right back. Justin Schmidt at center back. Other than that, we've more or less solidified who plays otherwise.
TBT: MLS salaries were released this week. Any surprises? Are you (and fans) generally pleased with the how the front office is spending money?
MM: There weren't too many surprises, but it was clear that many young players got a pretty substantial raise from last year — that's important because it means we're making efforts to keep these players. It hurts, though, because that makes squad construction a bit more difficult. Further, we've seen a lot of those players we just gave raises to hardly playing. Joao Plata's in DP territory, Aaron Maund and Justen Glad have yet to play, and Jordan Allen's been injured for a good chunk of the season so far. If we're going to pay these players more, I'd really prefer to see them playing for us than injured. There's no simple solution there, but it's sure a little frustrating right now.
RSL Soapbox Predictions:
VanOekel; Acosta, Schuler, Schmidt, Phillips; Beckerman, Mulholland, Rusnak; Lennon, Movsisyan, Saucedo
3-0 RSL, because, well, that's what I want.
They ask us...
RSL Soapbox: You're coming off the back of your first loss of 2017. What's your feeling about SKC right now?
Cody Bradley: I really like where the team is at right now. If I look around the field at the starting XI, I truly feel like this team is better than they were last year at every single position. Each player has locked down his spot and that was simply not the case last year. SKC has speed and creativity in the attack and a classic Peter Vermes defense. It has been a tough start to the year but they have been getting results. They've already played away at DC, Portland, Toronto and both home & away vs Dallas. I'm very happy to have some of those matches out of the way. They are in a decent spot right now and I, like a lot of fans, believe they are going to improve as the season matures.
RSB: Despite a good record so far, you're hardly going in goalscoring. Can you sustain results and average less than a goal per game?
CB: Averaging less than a goal per game? No. Not the results fans are looking for at least. But as I touched on above, there is a lot of reason to think the goals will come. This is in stark contrast to last season when we truly had no idea how these guys would ever score. I really feel like this team needs to get into double game weeks! Medranda and Gerso on the wings are both still settling in to their roles this young season. There is so much to like about what this offense could develop into, we just need to get them playing more matches.
That being said... the defense is legit and they have a legit keeper behind them. Averaging less than a goal per game won't do it, but SKC won't need 3-4 goals a game either. This is probably why most fans are not worried at the moment.
RSB: Why should Real Salt Lake fans fear Kansas City?
CB: I would be afraid of being the opponent when the flood gates open and the goals start to flow. The last match at Children's Mercy they were able to put three on the board. After two tough road matches I think SKC will be looking to shift into top gear in front of The Cauldron this weekend. Also if Tim Howard is any example, opposing teams should fear The Cauldron and their ability to throw a keeper off his game.
The Blue Testament Predictions:
(4-3-3) Melia, Sinovic, Besler, Opara, Zusi, Ilie, Espinoza, Feilhaber, Medranda, Dwyer, Gerso
1-0 Sporting KC, for our record against RSL in MLS Cups. Heh.