07-07-17 Know Your Enemy RSL
USA Today/Jeffrey Swinger

KNOW YOUR ENEMY: FC Dallas at Real Salt Lake | 7.7.18

FRISCO, Texas — FC Dallas is coming off an emotional comeback over Atlanta United FC after scoring two goals in the last five minutes of the game via Tesho Akindele. The win also propelled FCD into first place in the Western Conference after Sporting Kansas City fell to Real Salt Lake, the next opponent on Dallas' radar. Sandy, Utah, will be the site for this weekend's game at Rio Tinto Stadium where FCD will play its second game in four days.

Back on Track

Real Salt Lake hadn't won a match in over a month before Wednesday's 4-2 win over Sporting KC. RSL's last win was back on June 2 at home against the Seattle Sounders, but this week's win means it is back on track before its clash with FC Dallas. RSL went 0-3-1 over that span, but broke the trend after Sporting KC accumulated three red cards in a 4-2 thumping of the then-Western Conference leaders.

Struggles Against Playoff-Caliber Opponents

Real Salt Lake is 8-8-2 through 18 games this season, but the majority of its losses have come at the hands of teams currently in the playoff picture in both the Western and Eastern Conference. Across all competitions, Salt Lake is 3-5-1 against playoff teams with a goal differential of -9. With the win over Sporting earlier in the week, RSL will look to continue to build momentum against formidable opponents when it hosts FC Dallas.

Key Matchups

Matt Hedges vs. Corey Baird — Leading the team in goals and bagging one against Sporting KC on Wednesday, Baird has been the main man in front of goal for Real Salt Lake this season. FCD's backline gave up just six shots on target against Atlanta United FC and will face a similar breed of striker with Baird being his team's leading goal-scorer just like Josef Martinez for Atlanta. Hedges and the rest of the defense will enter this weekend's matchup with a similar mindset against a striker who is coming off a game in which he scored.

Maxi Urruti vs. Marcelo Silva — Urruti last scored on May 25 against Toronto FC and has gone five straight games without getting on the scoresheet. FC Dallas has yet to lose a game in which Urruti scores in in his time with the club, so putting one in the back of the net would mean good tidings for FCD. Marcelo Silva is one of the anchors of RSL's back line and will be one of few players to mark Urruti come Saturday night.

Projected Starting XI

Real Salt Lake (4-2-3-1): Rimando; Acosta, Glad, Marcelo Silva, Lennon; Sunny, Beckerman; Saucedo, Rusnák, Savarino; Baird

Keys To Three Points

Coming off of what might be the most emotional ending of the season, FC Dallas is flying high going into this weekend's matchup with Real Salt Lake. Although RSL is coming off of a big win of its own, FCD beat a more formidable foe and sit firmly atop of the Western Conference. The attacking line will have to add some consistency to its tab this weekend after going cold against Atlanta outside of Akindele's game-winning brace. Outside of stopping Baird in front of goal, the midfield will have to step up to Real Salt Lake's.