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LAFC vs. Real Salt Lake: Three Questions

Playoff edition! Checking out the opponent before Thursday’s clash.

MLS: Real Salt Lake at Los Angeles FC Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Football Club step foot in the MLS Cup Playoffs for the first time on Thursday, when they host Real Salt Lake at The Banc.

LAFC have played RSL twice to date, but how are things going these days for the black-and-gold’s opponent? We welcome back our friend Matt Montgomery, who runs SB Nation site RSL Soapbox, to talk about his team before the big game. Many thanks to Matt for taking the time to answer my questions!

Angels on Parade asks RSL Soapbox:

1. RSL make the playoffs! Given the nature of their qualification, are the playoffs themselves gravy for the team this year?

You know, it’s weird. There’s a sizable, vocal slice of Real Salt Lake fans that claim they’d be happier if we didn’t make the playoffs. I don’t really know that it’s true, but it does make me wonder about your question in a different way.

When it comes down to it, I actually think scraping into the playoffs is a bit of a disappointment from our side this year. At times, we looked absolutely magnificent — we were among the best teams in the league when we were at our best. Everyone had reason to be fearful if they faced us. Now, just six games out from a record-breaking duo of games in which we scored six goals in each, we look completely human.

I guess to answer your question, I’m not sure what I expected from this season, but yeah, I’m glad we made it in.

2. Who’s scoring for Real Salt Lake these days?

I feel like this might be a pointed question, Alicia. (I kid. I know it’s not.) The answer? Not too many players. Corey Baird and Damir Kreilach are the only two with multiple goals in the last six games, and I think that’s probably about right. They’re perhaps our two best attacking players this season — throw Jefferson Savarino in there for three — and that’s proving the case in the back of the net, too. Kreilach actually leads the team in goals with 12, and they’ve been pretty well scattered throughout the season. Albert Rusnak has 10, and five of those came in a three-game span.

But I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Joao Plata, who is our only player to have scored against LAFC. He’ll have a big task ahead of him.

3. LAFC have beaten RSL the first two meetings. How will RSL try and stop them the third time around?

(blank stare)

Um.

Well, I don’t think I have an answer for that. Unfortunately, I’m starting to think that adjustment is something RSL just doesn’t do under Mike Petke. In a way, that’s very much like Jason Kreis during his stead here, but the stakes in MLS are bigger. When Kreis was running the show here, we didn’t have to face the likes of Carlos Vela.

So, I don’t know. We’ve never looked like a team that truly adjusts, so I think we’ll see a similar approach that we’ve seen in our last ten games. We’ve won four of those, including three by significant margins. We’re also in possession of the second-worst road record among teams in the playoffs (thanks, D.C. United), so, we’ll see.

4. (Bonus) Prediction for this game?

I’m not sure I should answer this.

Here’s a lineup prediction, instead.

Rimando; Lennon, Glad, Marcelo Silva, Herrera; Beckerman, Sunny; Savarino, Rusnak, Plata; Kreilach

You can find my answers to Matt’s questions at RSL Soapbox.

What do you think? Leave a comment below!