Competition: Major League Soccer – Real Salt Lake vs. Philadelphia Union
Venue: Rio Tinto Stadium – Saturday, March 14 – 21:30 ET (01:30 GMT – Sunday 15)
Match Odds: Real Salt Lake 17/20 – Draw 5/2 – Philadelphia Union 3/1
Both had to settle for 0-0 draws on the opening weekend in two of the less entertaining games in a round of fixtures where many games could be described as tentative.
Real Salt Lake’s goalless draw came away at the Portland Timbers, while Philadelphia Union’s 0-0 home draw was against the Colorado Rapids in a game they would have expected to win, especially as the Rapids went down to ten men.
RSL and Philadelphia have drawn in each of their last three meetings, with the past two games ending 2-2, including last season’s meeting, so although there have been goals neither side has been able to kill the game off.
The Union have never beaten Real Salt Lake in MLS in their seven previous meetings and are underdogs going into this one.
Although we’re only one game into the new season, every club knows every result is going to count in their push for the playoffs and this is a game Real Salt Lake will expect to win, but they will know the Union can still be a threat and that sets the game up nicely.
Real Salt Lake are unbeaten at Rio Tinto Stadium in their last 11 MLS games, and despite going out in the playoffs 5-0 to LA Galaxy, they drew the home leg of that tie 0-0.
Philadelphia Union have only won one of their last seven away fixtures and based on that form, RSL look to be in a much better position heading into this game.
Real Salt Lake look like they are set to be without the same five players who missed out in the opening draw to Portland. Joao Plata (metatarsal), John Stertzer (toe), Justen Glad (knee), Demar Phillips (hamstring) and Pecka (hip) are all expected to miss the game.
Philadelphia Union will still be without Andre Blake (knee) and midfielder Danny Cruz (hamstring), who both sat out of last Saturday’s draw with Colorado.
Real Salt Lake’s form: D
Philadelphia Union’s form: D
Key Stat: Draws – There has been only one win (Real Salt Lake 2-1 Philadelphia – September 2011) between these two sides in their last six MLS meetings.
Key Player: Javier Morales – The playmaker will be the key to unlocking the Philadelphia defence and his performance will be even more important to Real Salt Lake as they are missing some big names.
Real Salt Lake 2-1 Philadelphia Union – RSL need to get three points and that important first win out the way to ensure they don’t slip into a winless run. Given the recent results between the sides we can expect this to be another tightly fought tie but home advantage should help Real Salt Lake to victory.