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Real Salt Lake, Minnesota United put hot streaks on line

(Image: Twitter/realsaltlake)

Real Salt Lake enters Saturday’s match at home against Minnesota United FC with just one loss in the past five matches, but RSL will be without its leading scorer on Saturday and for possibly six to eight more weeks.

Designated player Sam Johnson already has missed the past two games with what is being reported as a quadriceps injury, and it’s now a long-term problem. Johnson has eight goals in 16 games this season to lead his team.

As RSL presses on, it finds itself above the playoff line in the Western Conference standings with a 9-9-2 record (29 points). Saturday’s game at Rio Tinto Stadium will be a matchup of two sides who are playoff contenders.

“Just because Sam (is out), it doesn’t completely change the way I want to play,” RSL head coach Mike Petke told the Salt Lake Tribune.

One player who could help make up for Johnson’s absence is forward Jefferson Savarino, the reigning MLS player of the week for his two-goal, one-assist performance in a 4-0 win over the Philadelphia Union last week. Savarino has five goals on the season.

Real Salt Lake is 7-2-0 at home this season.

Minnesota United (10-7-3, 33 points) is also playing well, with a four-game win streak. Forward Darwin Quintero leads the team with six goals, while goalkeeper Vito Mannone has backed up the Loons defense with 66 saves, third-most in the league.

Both were rested Wednesday night when MNUFC hosted Aston Villa of England in a friendly. Mannone’s emergence creates a playing-time decision with veteran goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth now back from injury.

The Loons have added another player to help with the attack in midfielder Robin Lod, who was signed with targeted allocation money from Liga 2 side Sporting de Gijon in Spain. The native of Finland might not yet be ready to contribute, however, with some personal matters to attend to in his homeland.

“Two really good feet. Can play both sides, can play underneath, play through the middle, so I just think he will be a really big piece for us moving forward this year,” Minnesota United head coach Adrian Heath told the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

The Loons could be without midfielder Osvaldo Alonso, who is dealing with a shoulder injury.

REUTERS/Field Level Media

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