By Tyler Trent
Real Salt Lake's Starting XI Against Columbus (Photo courtesy of Real Salt Lake)
Results From Last Season
Real Salt Lake had an up-and-down season last year that saw them finish 7th place in the Western Conference. They put up a valiant fight against a strong Austin FC team and ultimately lost in penalties in the first round of the playoffs. Last season, their goal-scoring was primarily taken on by Sergio Córdova and Jefferson Savarino. However, this season Córdova is now in Vancouver’s squad.
Real Salt Lake was a pretty balanced team in 2022 and ultimately ended the season with a -2 goal differential scoring 43 goals and conceding 45.
The biggest departure for Real Salt Lake was the previously mentioned Córdova, who was on loan from FC Augsburg. In addition, Real Salt Lake saw the departures of Bobby Wood, Aaron Herrera, and Nick Besler
Carlos Andrés Gómez is the biggest addition to the Real Salt Lake roster. The Colombian winger joined the team as a U-22 Initiative player and could provide a dynamic addition to their attack. He is also a club record signing. So far, he hasn’t clicked in MLS and has only started 2 matches.
Moses Nyeman, the former DC United homegrown midfielder, was also acquired on loan from Belgian club SK Beveren for the 2023 season. Though only 19, Nyeman has plenty of professional experience with Loudon United and DC United.
Other than that, Salt Lake added two players in the MLS SuperDraft with Ilijah Paul and Bertin Jackquesson, two homegrown signings in Luis Rivera and Delentz Pierre, and defender Brayan Vera on a TAM deal from América de Calí. Real Salt Lake also added Emeka Eneli as a late addition to the first team after impressing with Salt Lake's second team.
Players to Watch
Justen Glad – Central defender Justen Glad is currently the top scorer for Salt Lake with 2 of their 3 goals on the season. In addition to those goals, Glad has been a solid defender with the exception of the St. Louis City match. Charlotte FC will need to be careful giving away set pieces or follow up balls into the box.
Jefferson Savarino – Savarino is a very talented player that ended 2022 with 7 goals and 5 assists in 18 starts. Although he has had a slow start to 2023, he is the type of player that could produce a magic moment without warning. Charlotte will need to be mindful of his position on the pitch throughout the match and limit his influence.
Damir Kreilach – The Croatian midfielder Kreilach has been at the heart of Real Salt Lake since 2018. Kreilach had a very strong season in 2021 for Real Salt Lake scoring 16 goals. However, last season he suffered a back injury that required surgery making him miss the 29 remaining games of the season. If Kreilach is able to get back into his pre-injury form, he can be dangerous.
Outlook For 2023
Real Salt Lake had a strong preseason winning 3 games and earning 2 draws against a mix of MLS and USL opponents. However, they currently only have 1 win and 4 losses after 5 matches with a large -10 goal differential. Based on goals allowed, Real Salt Lake currently have the worst defense in the league with 13. Scoring also hasn’t come easily this season for Salt Lake with only 3 goals so far. However, like Charlotte FC, they have had some tough early games including Columbus, St. Louis, and Seattle.
Be sure to checkout MLS Corner on the TopBin90 YouTube channel tomorrow night at 9pm EST. We will have special guest Jessica Charman. Charlotte FC’s vibrant color commentator at WFNZ will be joining us to share her knowledge and her thoughts on the team so far this season.
Real Salt Lake has shown a number of different lineups this season already, but I think there’s a good chance we see a lineup closer to the one they used against Austin FC this season.
Real Salt Lake's lineup vs. Austin on 3/11/23 (Graphic courtesy of MLSSoccer.com)
This lineup is one of the strongest that Real Salt Lake has on paper, but we could see Maikel Chang come in on the right for Andrés Gómez based on recent trends.