Thursday, May 23, 2024

Real Salt Lake v Sporting Kansas City: Mastroeni lauds team effort of Western Conference leaders

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 3 May 2024

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

Salt Lake sit atop of the Western Conference table after a six-game undefeated streak, having overcome Philadelphia Union 2-1 in their last outing.

Alexandros Katranis provided a remarkable 89th-minute winner in that victory over the Union, with RSL not losing an MLS game since March 9 against Colorado Rapids.

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

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

“Defensively we have been a really good team, it starts at the top, though. We’re getting a lot of great contributions from all around the pitch.

“When you tie that all together, we’ve got a great group firing on all cylinders.”

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

Kansas City head coach Vermes knows another difficult task awaits on the road this weekend.

“They are the best team in the West at the moment,” Vermes said of RSL.

“They are always a tough defensive team. With the strike power they have up front, we will have to be focused and concentrated, it will be a tough match for us.”

Vermes’ high praise of Salt Lake comes as no surprise given Mastroeni’s men have only conceded nine times this season – a joint-low in MLS.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Real Salt Lake – Cristian Arango

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

With eight goals in just 10 appearances so far this term, the Real Salt Lake star has already surpassed his six strikes in 2023 – and will hope to further his tally here.

Sporting Kansas City – Johnny Russell

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

The Scottish winger is yet to score in league competition this year, though, failing to find the net in any of his seven appearances – though Russell has only played 90 minutes twice in that run.

MATCH PREDICTION – DRAW

It will be hard to split these two sides with a draw appearing probable, despite the Opta supercomputer suggesting Real Salt Lake have the likelier chance of victory.

Sporting have never recorded back-to-back victories when visiting Salt Lake in all competitions, though they did win the last meeting between these two sides 3-2 in October.

SKC may have also lost their last outing but they have not suffered consecutive defeats across all competitions since April 2023, avoiding defeat in the match following each of its previous 14 losses (W10 D4).

OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

Real Salt Lake win – 45.5%

Sporting Kansas City win – 26.8%

Draw – 27.7%

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

SoccerNews

Soccernews.com is news blog for soccer with comprehensive coverage of all the major leagues in Europe, as well as MLS in the United States. In addition we offer breaking news for transfers and transfer rumors, ticket sales, betting tips and offers, match previews, and in-depth editorials.

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