Atlanta United will play at Real Salt Lake on Saturday in the last of four consecutive road games.
The MLS expansion team is 0-1-2 during the stretch.
The game will start at 9:30 p.m. and be broadcast on Fox Sports Southeast in the South, and CW69 in Atlanta.
Chris Kamrani, has covered Real Salt Lake and MLS for The Salt Lake Tribune since 2013, answered five questions about the game. He can be found on Twitter at @chriskamrani.
Q: What is the biggest difference Mike Petke has made to the team?
A: It’s still hard to gauge where Petke’s been most effective in lifting RSL out of such a lengthy slump, but in the last couple of weeks, he’s undoubtedly instilled more of a sense of belief in the group. The 4-2 thumping at Minnesota United was a wake-up call for RSL, and Petke rode in on the heels of that loss making it known that performances like that wouldn’t fly.
Tactically, he’s asked RSL’s attacking front four to stay high up the field and press considerably more than it had prior. The wide forwards in this formation are asked to not only help create and break down defenses, but to pester the opposition’s back line into nervy moments. And that’s been paying off lately in RSL’s back-to-back wins.
Q: Did you anticipate such a dramatic turnaround in results?
A: No, not initially. RSL hadn’t won a game in nearly eight months. The attack was sputtering and not creating enough chances and RSL, perhaps more than any team in MLS, has been struck with the injury bug. Which makes the 2-0-0 start under Petke all that more impressive. The Snow Game against Vancouver was a must-win, and being able to snap a 13-game winless streak in that fashion, in those elements, seems to have unlocked something good for RSL. Atlanta, however, will provide the stiffest test to date under Petke.
Q: Which player seems to be excelling who wasn’t before?
A: Every club needs its big-name, big-money players to deliver, and Yura Movsisyan appears to have rediscovered his groove. RSL’s point striker battled through a painful heel injury the last two months of 2016, and struggled at times to bury scoring opportunities. Now healthy, Movsisyan has four goals in his last five outings, including goals in three straight games. If RSL is to continue its turnaround, it will need its confident goal-scorer to keep pounding the back of the net.
Q: Which player still needs to improve?
A: It’s not so much as one specific player, but RSL’s defense simply needs to get healthy. In the first month of the season, RSL was whittled down…