SALT LAKE CITY — Just a week removed from the disappointing 2-1 loss at home to Sporting Kansas City, the lads in Claret and Cobalt will be looking to build confidence when RSL visits the New York Red Bulls (9-7-5, 32 points, No. 3 in the East).
“Our confidence is good because everyone knows what happened last Saturday,” said Real Salt Lake midfielder Javier Morales. “Now we have to stay forward and show everyone that we are still alive and we are still fighting for the Supporters Shield.”
RSL (11-6-4, 37 points, No. 1 in the West) will be up against some familiar faces when it takes the field at Red Bull Arena. Former RSL players Fabian Espindola, Jamison Olave and Jonny Steele could all likely take to the pitch in starting roles, but that won’t stop Morales and teammates from taking it as business as usual.
“My first thought is to go there and try to win,” said Morales. “Always, it’s good to see those guys, and I think it’s going to be fun.”
The Red Bulls have flown virtually under the radar for much of the season, but with playmakers like Thierry Henry, the New York side is sitting pretty in third place in the Eastern Conference.
“They are pretty strong at home,” admitted Morales. “They have a couple of guys on the top who play really good, so we have to be ready. We have to defend well, and then we’ll try to score goals.”
One reinforcement that RSL will see return to the field is forward Alvaro Saborio, who has been away with the Costa Rican national team in the Gold Cup.
“Sabo is a great player, and obviously a guy we can lean on to score goals,” said RSL midfielder Ned Grabavoy. “It’s great to have him back without question. It just adds to the depth up front for us right now and gives us more options.
“Hopefully while we have him back for the next couple of months, he can help us win some games.”
While the addition of Saborio adds a bit of excitement for RSL fans, the defensive back line will have some measuring up to do. Usual starter Chris Wingert is serving his first of a two-game suspension, and a recovering Carlos Salcedo is questionable to take the field.
It very well could pave the way for recent RSL acquisition Brandon McDonald to get the starting nod, if manager Jason Kreis sees fit.
“I’m just taking it day-by-day trying to get my fitness back one day at a time,” said McDonald. “If (Jason) calls on me, it’s my job to be ready to get in.”
A transplant from D.C. United, McDonald has been on the front lines against a Red Bulls side that can only be seen as a threat from his perspective.
“They’ve got a quality team from front to back,” said McDonald. “I was fortunate to play against them a handful of times when I was over in D.C. to see them and how they are put together.
“They’re a quality team. I don’t think anything less could be said,” McDonald added. “You go in there and take them easily, it’s not going to be an easy day.”
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