SALT LAKE CITY — Real Salt Lake’s defense has been the key to a good start of the season, but the club knows things aren’t going to get any easier Saturday night when it faces D.C. United.
The dynamic trio of Paul Arriola, Luciano Acosta and, of course, Wayne Rooney present a huge challenge for an RSL squad that’s only allowed two goals in two matches while tallying one victory and one tie.
Coach Mike Petke said his defense will need to keep an eye on Rooney, in particular, in transition where the all-time second-leading scorer in Premier League history is dangerous.
“He’s good at finding space,” Petke said. “As long as we recognize where he is and we limit anything centrally, we’ll give ourselves a better chance.”
It makes Rooney all the more dangerous — either as the main force or a decoy — with Acosta and Arriola at his side. RSL defender Brooks Lennon called them “great attacking players,” so the defense will need to be on point to negate United’s offensive potential.
“All that together, the mentality has to be the same, especially going into a place like D.C. We’re going to have to be on point with our defending.”
RSL coach Mike Petke
“Those three guys, we need to make sure we’re locking them down,” Lennon said. “If we do the rest up top, I think we can get a good result.”
Though it’s unlikely that veteran defender Tony Beltran will return to the lineup this week after his injury absence, Real Salt Lake still presents problems to opposing defenses — in part because of the versatility of its back line.
Lennon has shown his fortitude since switching positions to right back, but he can deftly play in the middle or left. Aaron Herrera has cemented a spot in the lineup as left back, but his game is also diverse enough to play on the right side. And centerback Marcelo Silva can also play left. Defender Nedum Onuoha has also been a solid addition in his limited time with the club.
“The fact that we have so many versatile guys, especially in the back line, is very helpful,” Lennon said. “If we can just lock down the back line, it can be key for us this year.”
Perhaps even more important for now, Lennon likes that the back line has had stability so far this season. Those four players have logged every minute in the two matches, …read more
Source:: Deseret News – Sports News