We’re on the road, quick turnaround against the best team in the league on paper as far as results and points. That mentality, that finding a way to get a result is going to play a huge part in tomorrow’s game for sure. —RSL coach Mike Petke
New York City FC doesn’t have any hardware to show for its efforts yet, but it has quickly become one of the marquee franchises in MLS since joining the league in 2015. NYCFC has finished in the top four in each of the past two seasons, and last year had the second-best record behind league champ Toronto.
It added more quality pieces in the offseason, and already is looking like one of the best teams in MLS again in 2018 with an unbeaten 4-0-1 record to start the season.
Real Salt Lake, meanwhile, is still trying to find its way a month into the season. Despite its up-and-down quality on the field, RSL has managed to grind out a 2-2-1 record thus far and sits in a tie for third place in the Western Conference.
RSL will try to tap into that same grind-it-out mentality this Wednesday when it travels to New York City FC for a midweek clash at Yankee Stadium (5 p.m., KMYU).
“We’re on the road, quick turnaround against the best team in the league on paper as far as results and points. That mentality, that finding a way to get a result is going to play a huge part in tomorrow’s game for sure,” said Real Salt Lake coach Mike Petke.
While RSL faces a quick turnaround, NYCFC hasn’t played a game since March 31 and RSL midfielder Albert Rusnak said managing the game will be key against a well-rested team.
“I’m sure they’ll be on the front foot from minute one. There will be a few aspects of the game we’ll have to defend well and we’ll probably have to take our chances when we get in front of goal because we might not create as many as we do at home,” said Rusnak.
Real Salt Lake heads into the match with a bit of confidence after beating Vancouver at Rio Tinto Stadium last week, but it won’t be at full strength. Defenders Marcelo Silva and Demar Phillips were both subbed off because of injuries picked up in the first half against Vancouver, and neither will play on Wednesday.
“It seems to be what’s been happening to us lately, but you have to deal with it. We have a roster on it and everybody is a professional soccer player on that roster,” said Petke.
The injuries could pave the way for Adam Henley or Danilo Acosta to make their first starts of the season, or perhaps both if Brooks Lennon is given the night off after playing 90 minutes last weekend.
Joao Plata is another player who’s unavailable for selection.
Last weekend against Vancouver, Plata didn’t play because of a coach’s decision, and then on Sunday he picked up a slight injury in practice and didn’t travel with the team to New York.
Petke said he wasn’t singling out Plata by benching him last week in favor of rookie Corey Baird, and was fully planning on playing him on Wednesday.
“When he’s on, when he’s committed on both sides of the ball he’s a very important piece for us,” said Petke. “I’m looking forward to Joao getting healthy and continuing from the end of last year into preseason and being 100 percent on board with this team.”