Know Your Enemy: Real Salt Lake

For the second time this week, FC Dallas is on the road as they travel to Utah to face Real Salt Lake on Saturday evening.

Former FCD keeper Jeff Cassar leads his RSL squad into this match with an unbeaten record, 6-0-5, in 2014. RSL is coming off their latest win, a 2-1 Rocky Mountain Cup win over rivals Colorado last Saturday night.

The two sides split the season series in 2013, each winning a game before drawing the finale 1-1 in October. FCD has four wins all-time in Salt Lake City, and just two of those wins have come since 2007.

Injury Watch

Even though RSL has done well this season to not lose a game, they do still have some injuries to deal with. Robbie Findley (knee), Rich Balchan (abductor) and Jordan Allen (knee) have all been listed as out.Wa

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There are still some question marks surrounding Cole Crossman (shin splints), Luis Gil (hamstring) and Chris Schuler (knee).

World Cup

RSL is another team that has been hit hard by the World Cup call-ups this month. They are going to be without United States midfielder Kyle Beckerman and keeper Nick Rimando. Costa Rican forward Alvaro Saborio will also be out for this match as well.

Key Matchups

Fabian Castillo vs Tony Beltran – Beltran is one of the quicker fullbacks in MLS and someone that will cause fits for Castillo. The way to keep him at bay is to make sure he is pinned back in his defensive zone enough to where he isn’t getting forward. 

Victor Ulloa vs Javier Morales - The young Dallas Homegrown had a tough battle on Wednesday night in LA and will face possible one of his biggests tests to date with RSL and Morales. Ulloa will need to find a way to limit the passing lanes that Morales opens up.

Key Player for the Galaxy

Javier Morales - With Rimando, Beckerman and Saborio all out for international duty, the bulk of the attack will go to Morales. The veteran midfielder has had a great season so far, scoring four goals and adding in five assists through 11 games. Limiting the amount of touches that Morales gets on the ball is the key in slowing down what the RSL attack can do. Morales had a goal and an assist in last weekend’s win over Colorado.

Projected Lineup

Cassar has stuck it out with a 4-4-2 formation this season, using a diamond midfield with Morales leading the top of it.

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Goalkeeper: Jeff Attinella; RB: Tony Beltran; CB: Chris Schuler, Nat Borchers ; LB: Chris Wingert; RM: Luis Gil; DM: Cole Grossman; LM: Ned Grabavoy; AM Javier Morales; FW: Joao Plata, Devon Sandoval

Keys to three points

Salt Lake is an intelligent, veteran-lead squad that pounces on mistakes made by the other team. Last week against Colorado, RSL took advantage of the Rapids’ flat play from the start of the game and managed to hold off their rivals’ late advances.

Defensively RSL doesn’t give up a ton of easy chances. FC Dallas will need to find a way to spread out RSL’s defense, similar to what they tried to do against LA on Wednesday night with Castillo and Je-Vaughn Watson on the wings.

On the other side of the ball, FCD will need to limit what Morales does in the midfield and close down passing lanes up top for Joao Plata to run on to.

RSL has been very impressive under Cassar in 2014 but all good things have to come to an end at some point. Given the absences that RSL has at the moment, this could be a good time for FCD to take advantage and steal some points on the road.