They just need to play with energy, play with confidence. There's going to be mistakes, nothing's going to be perfect, but if their reactions are good we'll be just fine. —RSL head coach Jeff Cassar
SANDY — Two weeks ago down in Costa Rica, 20-year-old Sebastian Saucedo and 19-year-old Brooks Lennon played a major role in leading the U.S. Under-20 National Team to its first-ever CONCACAF Championship.
Real Salt Lake is hoping confidence the youngsters gained spills over into success at Rio Tinto Stadium this Saturday.
Injuries to Joao Plata and Jordan Allen could pave the way for Lennon and Saucedo to both crack the starting lineup this Saturday when RSL hosts the L.A. Galaxy (7:30, KMYU).
“Really eager to make an appearance, so hopefully I can and show the crowd and RSL fans what I can do,” said Lennon.
Lennon came up through the RSL-Arizona Academy, but spent the last two years with Liverpool’s youth teams in England. He’s on loan with Real Salt Lake this season. Saucedo, a Park City, Utah, native, also came up through the RSL-Arizona Academy and even made a start back in 2015 before spending all of last season on loan with Veracruz in Mexico.
Coach Jeff Cassar has other options to start up top alongside Yura Movsisyan, but he might elect to give buddies Lennon and Saucedo a chance to ignite an RSL attack that hasn’t scored yet in 2017.
“They just need to play with energy, play with confidence. There’s going to be mistakes, nothing’s going to be perfect, but if their reactions are good we’ll be just fine,” said Cassar.
Kansas City and D.C. United are the only other MLS teams that haven’t scored two games into the 2017 campaign. The L.A. Galaxy, meanwhile, have found the back of the net once, but are 0-2 on the season as they dropped a pair of home games to kick off the post-Bruce Arena era.
The Galaxy are capable of getting on track at any moment, something RSL is very mindful of.
“Good squad, good players, they’re going to be organized, they’re going to be hungry. L.A. is always going to be a good team with the players they have,” said Nick Rimando.
Cleaning up the defensive miscues that plagued the squad in Chicago will be key if Real Salt Lake hopes to pick up three points before heading out for road games against the New York Red Bulls and Minnesota United the next two weekends.
David Horst figures to make this third straight start at center back this weekend, but Cassar has decisions to make at the other center back spot. Aaron Maund trained this week and could be available, but Cassar hinted that Maund needs to get his “fitness up.”
Cassar may end up giving rookie Justin Schmidt a second straight start and his strong debut in Chicago last week.
Whoever gets the nod up top or in the back, Cassar hopes to see improvement from last week’s 2-0 loss at Chicago.
“Our next two games are on the road, and we have to pick up three points at home. It’s imperative. It’s a big game early, but we obviously need to keep working on creating scoring chances and putting our players in places to score,” said Cassar.