Positional Breakdown: Real Salt Lake vs. New York Red Bulls

Who's got the advantage in Saturday's massive tilt at Rio Tinto?


Nick Rimando is one the league’s best, with the second lowest goals-against-average (0.71) in MLS. If there’s anyone whose reflexes can match up with the attacking talents of the Henry-Ángel combo, it’s Rimando.

GOALKEEPERS

 

Greg Sutton will be called into action again to replace NYRB regular and Senegal call-up Bouna Coundoul. In his lone appearance of the year two weeks ago, the veteran was shaky and the rust was clearly visible.

RSL central defenders Jamison Olave and Nat Borchers may have the size to compete with Juan Pablo Ángel, but they can be caught chasing when it comes to the accelerating speed and tricky footwork of Thierry Henry.

DEFENDERS

Danleigh Borman can effectively replace left back Roy Miller, called up by Costa Rica, but the Red Bulls back four has shown it can be exposed when faced with speed like RSL’s Robbie Findley.

While Andy Williams may not be able to replace Will Johnson’s work rate, the Jamaican’s ability to keep possession and draw fouls can prove equally effective. Ned Grabavoy and Kyle Beckerman will need to work extra to fill the defensive holes.

MIDFIELDERS

The absences of Rafa Márquez and Dane Richards to international duty, coming off their best matches last weekend, will severely impact NYRB. Their likely replacements, Seth Stammler and Mac Kandji, are very different players and the Red Bulls have not been as incisive a team in attack with them. 

Fabian Espindola and Robbie Findley have only started four matches together this year (RSL has a 2-1-1 record). While the Argentine is clearly in form, the pressure will be on Findley and whether he can be as much a handful as Costa Rican international call-up Álvaro Saborío.

FORWARDS

Juan Pablo Ángel and Thierry Henry are quality and class. But how dangerous they can be is purely dependent on the service they receive. Without Rafa Márquez and Dane Richards unlocking the opponents’ back line, this remains the biggest question mark.

Aside from left midfielder Nelson Gonzalez, RSL does not enjoy an abundance of proven talent off the bench and they instead count on younger players.

BENCH

Four absences due to international duty will hurt any team’s depth, but the Red Bulls can still turn to veterans midfielders Carl Robinson, Sinisa Ubiparipovic and forward Ibrahim Salou.

When his team could have easily folded between travel and heartbreaking results, manager Jason Kreis has found a way to keep his team hungry and focused. Real Salt Lake are the only undefeated team at home in MLS and the altitude makes for a real advantage.

MANAGERS

Red Bulls manager Hans Backe continually downplays expectations for his squad but NYRB are in the race for the Supporters Shield. However, they will need belief they are worthy competitors with three of their next four games coming on the road against title contenders RSL, FC Dallas and the LA Galaxy.