Both Real Salt Lake and NYC FC are struggling to live up to the record they set last year. NYC FC had a disastrous start to the season, failing to get a victory until their seventh outing. This left fans in despair as draw followed draw followed draw, with the exception of a shocking 4-0 loss to Toronto FC.
They’ve improved over the year though, having a much more impressive and fruitful summer. They come into this game with dual victories over both Colorado Rapids and Sporting Kansas City.
Real Salt Lake have struggled to bounce back in a similar way, with a trio of wins in May being the closest they’ve come to turning their season around. As a contrast, they come into this following a goalless draw against FC Dallas. There’s little doubt who has the momentum here.
Real Salt Lake vs NYC FC Prediction: Real Salt Lake 1-2 NYC FC
Momentum and points aren’t everything. The fact is that Real Salt Lake have, for the most part, performed extremely well against some terribly tough competition. It’s also widely considered to be this time of the year when the playoff push begins. That means we often see big shifts in the rankings from this point on. However, we’re still not convinced. Real Salt Lake may be the bookmakers’ favourites but we have to go with what we’ve seen this season. We actually think NYC FC will scrape by with a very hard-fought victory. With that in mind, our scoreline prediction is 2-1 to the away side.
Our recommended tip: Both teams to score
This recommended tip is largely based on NYC FC’s all around record of high-scoring matches. While Real Salt Lake often leave a clean sheet on either side, such a result is quite unusual for NYC. Their last four games saw at least three goals and at least one for each side. In fact, five or more goals aren’t unusual in their games. We think that, with such a high-risk style, Real Salt Lake will be forced into the type of clash where both teams scoring seems very likely. If you agree with our prediction, you can get low-risk 8/15 odds from Ladbrokes.
Another reason to be confident in the possibility of an away side victory here is their last outing. In the 2018 season, NYC FC went 4-0 against Real Salt Lake in an utterly comprehensive victory. Of course, dampening the psychological edge that NYC should have in those circumstances is the fact that Real Salt Lake were victorious in all three of their previous encounters. Nonetheless, NYC FC have proven they have what it takes. Although, we do have to give the overall historical advantage to Real Salt Lake – one win isn’t quite enough to turn the tide.
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Players to watch: Nick Rimando & Héber
Real Salt Lake: Nick Rimando
The key to winning this game for Real Salt Lake has to be in preventing the kind of offensive onslaughts that NYC FC are known for. To their advantage, their goalkeeper – veteran Nick Rimando – is one of the best men for the job in the entirety of Major League Soccer. He’s kept seven clean sheets this season, leading to victory in the vast majority. While we’re not sure he’ll manage to keep NYC FC entirely at bay, his skills may be what gives his team the edge to win.
NYC FC: Héber
There’s nothing particularly complicated or surprising about this pick: key to NYC FC’s offensive is Héber. He’s their highest goalscorer by a significant margin, with only Maximiliano Moralez coming anywhere close. Not only that but he helped secure victory in their last two games, scoring on each occasion.