Real Salt Lake and Minnesota United have played even, scoreless soccer for 135 out of the 180 minutes they’ve contested against each other this season. The only difference was the second half of RSL’s most recent game against Minnesota, during which Real fell apart and allowed four goals.
That last game was out of the ordinary in other ways as well. Salt Lake rolled out a 4-4-2 diamond formation and almost completely overhauled the starting lineup to save some legs. Not to mention the team scored three goals that were called back.
So it stands to reason that if RSL can take what it has done well against Minnesota in previous games, put it in a bottle, and dump that bottle out at Allianz Field on Sunday, there’s a good chance it comes away with a result.
“We think we match up well against Minnesota,” coach Freddy Juarez said Friday during a video conference.
There’s just one problem: In four road trips to Minnesota, RSL hasn’t been able to earn a single point. The Loons have scored 14 goals in home games against Salt Lake, compared with just five for Real.
RSL has its work cut out for it. But the team’s history at Allianz field isn’t on players' minds.
“As a player, we don’t really look at stats like that, to be honest, because some people have never been there, some people didn’t play in the game,” defender Nedum Onuoha said. “So you don’t really carry that weight as, say, some other people who maybe look into statistics.”
RSL AT MINNESOTA UNITED
When • Sunday, 6 p.m. MDT
TV • KMYU
Sunday’s game is RSL’s third in nine days. The last time the team traveled to Minnesota, it was also on the tail end of a stretch of three in nine days.
It’s likely that Juarez will rotate some of his starters again due to the tight schedule, but it might not be as drastic as the last time around. However, Juarez stressed the importance of keeping his players healthy.
“I don’t think there should drastic change, but we also have to be smart,” Juarez said. “We have to be really smart about this because it wouldn’t be good to get some injuries right now.”
RSL announced Saturday that Giuseppe Rossi and Everton Luiz are not medically cleared to play in Minnesota. It will be Rossi’s third missed game due to injury.
Salt Lake is looking to build on its 2-0 win over the L.A. Galaxy, a result that snapped a two-game home losing streak and put it above the playoff line in the Western Conference. Defender Justen Glad said before that game that a win would help give RSL some much-needed momentum.
Juarez said likes the way RSL has played in its last two games, even though the team ended up losing to Vancouver. In his mind, he’s seen progression, and the win over the Galaxy is demonstrable proof that it’s been playing well for longer than just one game.
“I think the team has been pretty consistent,” Juarez said. “It’s unfortunate we don’t have a couple more wins.”