Real Salt Lake vs. Minnesota United FC Prediction, Preview and Odds - 5/29/21
Real Salt Lake takes on Minnesota United in only Real’s sixth game of the 2021 season, while Minnesota heads out on the field for the seventh time this season. The game, slated to be played on Saturday night in Utah, already seems like a game that can shape the Western Conference standings even though it’s still early in the season. Real Salt Lake sits in eighth place with eight points, just a point out of a playoff spot, while Minnesota sits 12th in the Western Conference standings and at six points, is only three points out of a playoff spot. These teams already squared off once this season, just last month, with Real Salt Lake taking a 2-1 win on the road, highlighted by David Ochoa’s antics in the win. Last year saw the two teams draw twice and Minnesota take a 4-0 win in the third game of the season between the two teams, as well as taking a 3-1 win back in 2019. Minnesota has had Salt Lake’s number in this series of late and Saturday will be an opportunity for Real Salt Lake to make it two in a row. Which team will get the valuable points from Saturday night’s game?
RSL Eyes Playoff Spot
Real Salt Lake will have some confidence coming into this one, even given that Minnesota has dominated the series over the last few years. RSL already won once this year though, back on April 24th, and will be looking to carry over that win to Saturday’s home game. RSL sits just outside a playoff spot in the early going this season and after not-qualifying for the MLS Playoffs last season, they’ll be looking to make it back to postseason play, especially with the talent on their roster. In the first meeting between the teams last month, RSL was dominated by nearly every offensive metric, except for the one that matters, the team that wins the game. Minnesota outshot Real 23-11 overall and out possessed them 56-44, but Real Salt Lake made it count when they had to, which is a sign of a team that is quickly gaining confidence in each other week by week.
Real Salt Lake has eight goals on the year as a team, with USMNT member Rubio Rubin leading the way with four goals. Damir Kreilach, the team’s leading scorer in two of the last three years, has two goals, as does Anderson Julio. Julio had two goals in the first meetings between these two teams this season and will be feeling great to take the court knowing how well he lit up the scoreboard last time out against Minnesota. Kreilach has also added a team-high three assists, with Rubio right behind him at two, to show the strong duo that’s forming out west. Between Kreilach and Rubio, the two have combined for six of the eight goals and five of the eight assists. Minnesota will have a tall task to slow those two down and will need to be focused and locked in on how Kreilach and Rubio play off each other to avoid them getting too comfortable with each other.
One good thing for Real Salt Lake is that they have one of the best goalkeepers in the league in David Ochoa. While the last time these two teams played led to some fireworks afterward, Ochoa should feel confident knowing he took down this team just a few weeks ago. In the back is also Justen Glad, one of the most experienced defenders on the defense even despite his age only being 24. Justin Meram is another player to keep an eye on as he brings vast amounts of experience to the starting lineup and should have some tricks and tips for the Chicago starters as Real Salt Lake looks to change the historical narrative of this series.
United In The Basement
Minnesota United seems to be playing with fire early on this season as they sit close to the basement in the Western Conference standings. After not qualifying for the MLS Playoffs in their first two years of the league, a first-round loss in 2019 and then a semifinals loss in 2020 has helped shape the direction of the club. Minnesota has actually won two matches in a row after dropping their first four to start the season. The last two weeks of wins came across FC Dallas and Vancouver, and United has momentum that Real Salt Lake has been missing of late. Last week against FC Dallas it took a stoppage time goal for the Loons to see the three points through, even after leading in shots 27-6 and shots on goal 7-2. Two weeks ago against Vancouver, it took another second-half goal to secure the win as they outshot their opponents again in that one.
Minnesota has only scored five goals this year, with Robin Lod leading the way with two of those goals. Lod also leads with two assists in five games, while Justin McMaster has the only other assist on the roster. Minnesota still has some dangerous names on that roster, between Will Trapp, another U.S. Soccer product, and longtime scorer Ethan Finlay. Juan Agudelo is a name many fans know of, but it’s still uncertain on if he’ll be a player that can be relied on for much this season and has appeared in only two games so far this season. In the first meeting between the two teams it was Lod who got Minnesota on the scoreboard and he’ll be looking to carry over that confidence and momentum in another crucial MLS game.
Pick: Real Salt Lake (+100)
Real Salt Lake already won the first meeting of the season just a little over a month ago and now that the return match is scheduled for Utah, should mean that they carry over plenty of confidence and momentum. Real Salt Lake is actually fifth in the league in goals scored, while Minnesota is 23rd in the league in goal defense. Add in that Real Salt Lake is first in first-half goals in the league, might mean they continue to come out of the gates fast and if Minnesota gets behind early, they just don’t have the confidence or talent for it to be worthwhile or believable that they’ll come back. Real Salt Lake also has a strong defense that shouldn’t have any trouble with slowing down Minnesota, especially given the lack of offensive options for Minnesota United up top and on the wings. Age is a big aspect in the game and Minnesota is a little older and a little more out of energy, when collided with everyone being young and energized for this new-age Real Salt Lake team it’s a no-brainer that RSL will continue to find ways to win and prove themselves worthy of a playoff spot.
Pick: Over 2.5
In the last five games for Real Salt Lake, at least three goals have been scored in four of their last five. For Minnesota, at least three goals have been scored in two of their last five games overall. In games between the two teams, at least three goals have been scored three out of the five times, including just a month ago. With the veterans in Minnesota, one of them should be able to find the back of the net, and while it won’t be enough against Real Salt Lake on Saturday, it might continue to set the tone. RSL’s lineup still has Julio waiting in the wings and then Damir Kreilach, the team’s leading scorer two years ago, where both can be expected to contribute some offense and get their team going early and often on Saturday to stay ahead.