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Real Salt Lake vs. LAFC: Three Questions

Why Damir Kreilach is a name you may want to learn now.

MLS: Sporting KC at Real Salt Lake
Mike Petke has RSL fans believing again.
Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Football Club continue their season-opening road trip with a game Saturday afternoon against Real Salt Lake. The opponent tied their first game, on the road 1-1 against FC Dallas last week.

In order to get ready for Real Salt Lake, let’s welcome back Matt Montgomery from SB Nation blog RSL Soapbox to talk about his team. Many thanks to Matt for taking the time to answer my questions!

Angels on Parade asks RSL Soapbox:

1. Real Salt Lake began the season last week with a road draw against FC Dallas. Who looked good in that game, and what was the overall reaction to the game and performance for RSL?

Where do I start? That was the most competent I remember us looking since, what, October? In all seriousness, we did look much better than I would have expected. Damir Kreilach was a revelation in the midfield, and for the first half, he looked like the answer for RSL’s spine. Joao Plata looked good, and his goal showed him with a whole lot more confidence than he had a year ago. Nick Rimando was, of course, at his best, which is weird, because he’s getting kind of old. Most importantly, we looked like a team that knew what we wanted to do. We had ideas. They didn’t all end up actuated, but I’ve got to say, it made me excited.

2. It seems like coming into the season, around the league RSL was seen as a dark horse contender. After a couple seasons where consistency has been an issue, does it feel locally like RSL are indeed contenders this year? What scares you about their title prospects?

Yes. Absolutely. We would have been a dark horse MLS Cup contender if we’d snuck into the playoffs by some miracle last year, too. Mike Petke has done excellent work turning this team around, and we’ve strengthened in some key positions. The feeling around this team isn’t a sinking one this year — and that’s a big change from the last three years. We will, of course, need to integrate our new signings, and that’s probably our biggest risk. The departure of Yura Movsisyan shouldn’t go unnoticed, because we thought he was the answer to our scoring woes. If this becomes a pattern, we might want to ask questions. I’m hoping — and relatively certain — it isn’t a pattern, though.

3. There are several newcomers for RSL this season. Which one are you most excited by so far?

It’s got to be Damir Kreilach. We’ve missed the two-way midfielder we had with both Will Johnson and Ned Grabavoy — they occupied two different styles of play, certainly, but they were willing to defend and attack in equal measure. Kreilach has also been an excellent goalscorer for Union Berlin, and that would be a nice addition to our play. But the biggest thing, for me, is that he will be the combinatory player we need to really unleash our forward line.

4. (Bonus) Prediction for this game?

2-1, with LAFC making us nervous late. I’d make some joke about the ghosts of Chivas, but really, I don’t want to think about all the times that Chivas USA was terrible and RSL still managed to lose. So yeah. 2-1.

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

What do you think? Leave a comment below!