close
close

Ricketts congratulates ‘Bunny’ Shaw on FWA Player of the Year award

Real Salt Lake head coach Pablo Mastroeni recognized the collective effort of his league-leading team as they prepare to host Sporting Kansas City at America First Field for Sunday’s MLS clash.

Salt Lake sits atop the Western Conference table after a six-game unbeaten streak, having beaten the Philadelphia Union 2-1 in its last outing.

Alexandros Katranis scored a remarkable 89th-minute game-winning goal over Union, and RSL has not lost an MLS game since March 9 against the Colorado Rapids.

“I think it’s everything so far, every aspect of the team has been competitive: sometimes the offense clicks, sometimes it’s the defense,” Mastroeni said.

“For me, it’s really the collective: from the staff to the players, to me and the work we do every day. Scoring the first goal has been very important for us in most games.

“Defensively we have been a very good team, although we started from the top. We received great contributions from all over the field.

“When you put all that together, we have a great group firing on all cylinders.”

Peter Vermes’ Wizards were defeated 2-1 by Minnesota United in their last game, leaving them tenth in the West with just 11 points to their name after 10 games.

Kansas City head coach Vermes knows he has another tough assignment ahead of him on the road this weekend.

“They’re the best team in the West right now,” Vermes said of RSL.

“They are always a tough team in defense. With the power they have in attack, we will have to be focused and focused, it will be a difficult game for us.”

Vermes’ high praise for Salt Lake comes as no surprise, given that Mastroeni’s men have only conceded nine goals this season, an MLS-low.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Real Salar – Cristian Arango

Cristian Arango has 16 goal contributions in 10 games this season, equaling the most in a player’s first 10 appearances in a season in MLS history (Carlos Vela in 2019, Cobi Jones in 1998).

With eight goals in just 10 appearances so far this season, the Real Salt Lake star has already surpassed his six goals in 2023, and will be hoping to add to his tally here.

Sporting Kansas City – Johnny Russell

Johnny Russell has scored six goals in 13 MLS games against Real Salt Lake (also considering playoffs), including scoring at least once against RSL in each of the last five seasons.

However, the Scottish winger is yet to score in league competition this year and has failed to find the net in any of his seven appearances, although Russell has only played 90 minutes twice in that run.

MATCH PREDICTION – DRAW

It will be difficult to split these two teams with a draw looking likely, even though the Opta supercomputer suggests Real Salt Lake has a better chance of victory.

Sporting have never recorded consecutive victories when visiting Salt Lake in all competitions, although they won the last meeting between these two teams 3-2 in October.

SKC may have also lost their last match, but they have not suffered consecutive defeats in all competitions since April 2023, avoiding defeat in the match after each of their previous 14 defeats (10 wins and 4 draws).

OPTA CHANCE OF WINNING

Real Salt Lake victory: 45.5%

Sporting Kansas City victory: 26.8%

Tie – 27.7%