After a frustrating draw to a ten men Colorado Rapids team, the Union travel to the Rio Tinto Stadium to take on last years Western Conference Semifinalists, Real Salt Lake. Salt Lake were also held to a draw by the Portland Timbers and now play their first home game of the season against a Union side who simply need to find the back of the net and build some confidence.
Andre Blake is likely to be joined on the sidelines by C.J. Sapong who’s game ended prematurely against Colorado as he wa sidelined with a concussion.
Cristián Maidana proved to be an effective early substitute and it wouldn’t surprise me to see him replace the forward in the starting XI to bring back the much more familiar 4-2-3-1 formation.
Fernando Aristeguieta struggled to show much of his arial talents against the 6″4/ 6″5 Centre-backs that Colorado had to offer and may find himself having an easier time against Schuler and Olave who are around 2 inches shorter.
The elusive Andrew Wenger and rapid Sebastien Le Toux will look to break down the flanks, providing support and crosses to Fernando as any rebounds to the edge of the box will fall to Maidana to try and strike on target.
It’s hard to judge how capable the defence are after one game, especially after a game where so few chances were created by the opposition. But in the few that were, Steven Vitoria seemed to have the attackers in his back pocket, if he can pair up nicely with Ethan White to create some chemistry then they should be able to withstand most of the attacks that Salt Lake can throw at them.
Prediction- Salt Lake have drawn against the Union in 5 of their last 6 meetings and hold the same record for clean sheets in their most recent MLS games. They also don’t take too kindly to losing at the Rio Tinto as they are on an 11 game undefeated run at the Stadium. With both teams unable to find the net in their opening games, expect a low scoring game, especially with Salt Lake missing Joao Plata. They will still be favourites here but Philly were able to keep possession in their opening fixture for extended periods, infuriating their opponents. When Salt Lake break and lose the ball, expect them to be at their weakest. Le Toux and Wenger will make any defensive errors prove costly with rapid switches in game tempo.
I think both teams will score, but the game will end up another draw. A solid result for the Union should this happen.
Real Salt Lake 1- Philadelphia Union 1