Real Salt Lake has started with the exact same lineup in each of their three matches this season. That’s likely to change next week as Javier Morales, Alvaro Saborio and Nat Borchers will all likely be match fit and read to start.
Given Jason Kreis’ ‘Team is the Star’ philosophy, very few players are automatic starts. These three, however, along with Kyle Beckerman and Nick Rimando are the only ones you could give that status.
Morales and Saborio have featured in every match, coming in at around the 60th minute in the first two and at halftime in the third, but both should be ready for a 90 minute run by Saturday.
The absence of four projected starters in the first three matches makes Salt Lake’s 2-1 start even more impressive. Even more telling is that none of these absences generated much in the way of media attention. While that is in part due to Salt Lake’s start, it also says a lot about the quality minutes that Chris Schuler, Luis Gil, Sebastien Velasquez, and Paulo Jr. have put in.
Still, the additions of an MVP candidate in Morales and a proven goal-scorer in Saborio are sure to make the team even better starting this week.
The timing is perfect as Real Salt Lake will face three matches in eight days, starting with Saturday’s tilt in Portland. The side will then return home to take on Montreal and Colorado on the following Wednesday and Saturday, respectively.
Schuler is likely to stay in the lineup alongside Nat Borchers Saturday as Jamison Olave will likely get Saturday’s match on turf off.
Upon the side’s return to Salt Lake, Will Johnson will likely get his first minutes of the season. Gil, Velasquez, Paulo, Terakazu Tanaka, Jonny Steele and Yordany Alvarez are all likely to get substantial time as well.
The coming week will be a good test of Real Salt Lake’s depth. If the side emerges with seven points or more, look for the media (including this site) to resurrect the notion that the side is the deepest in the league.
Doing so will also be the greatest proof yet that the side is a serious Supporters’ Shield contender.