SANDY, Utah — A defensive implosion could mean major lineup changes ahead for Real Salt Lake.
Little has gone right for Real Salt Lake this season, mainly because the Utah club can’t figure out how to stop opponents from scoring at will. Real Salt Lake heads into its match against Minnesota United FC on Saturday having surrendered 11 goals over its past two MLS contests.
Real Salt Lake (4-10-2) has yielded 35 goals over 16 matches — the most of any MLS team. With defenders Danilo Acosta and Justen Glad and forward Brooks Lennon and Sebastian Saucedo back from international duty with the US U-20 national team, starting spots are up for grabs.
“They are going to be fighting like dogs for positions because it’s not good enough,” Real Salt Lake coach Mike Petke told reporters following the team’s loss to FC Dallas on June 3. “It’s not good enough individually, collectively, from key players in key positions.”
Facing Minnesota (4-8-2) at home could offer a much needed momentum boost for Real Salt Lake, which has won two straight in Utah.
The Loons, on the other hand, have struggled away from home. Minnesota has collected just two points in seven road matches and has been outscored 22-9 in those contests.
Much like Real Salt Lake, Minnesota has had a tough time slowing down opposing offenses. The Loons have allowed 33 goals in 14 matches, which ranks worse than even Real Salt Lake. They underwhelmed on both ends of the pitch in their most recent MLS road match — a 3-0 loss to Sporting Kansas City on June 3.
“This was as bad as we have been since the second or third week of the season,” Minnesota coach Adrian Heath told MLSSoccer.com after the match. “Forget the scoreline, I was more disappointed with the amount of determination that the guys showed. I feel sorry for the 200 or 300 fans that made the journey from Minnesota. They deserved a lot more than they got today.”
Midfielder Kevin Molino and defender Francisco Calvo both returned from international duty this week, which should boost Minnesota’s paper-thin depth.
The Loons prevailed in the first-ever meeting between the two clubs on April 1, dismantling Real Salt Lake 4-2 behind a goal and pair of assists from Molino.