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Revolution vs. Real Salt Lake: Storylines to follow in week 11

Will Joao Plata finally find his form? That, and four other headlines to track.

MLS: New England Revolution at Real Salt Lake Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

The Revolution and Real Salt Lake, two clubs in need of a breakthrough performance, will meet on Saturday at Gillette Stadium. Here are five headlines to track ahead of the week 11 matchup:

1. Which club will stop the bleeding first?

Still looking for win number three, the Revolution and Real Salt Lake have arrived at a crossroads this season. The Revs last won on April 8; RSL last won on April 15. And while there’s still five months of soccer left to play, both teams need to right the ship in a hurry to avoid entering the summer in an early-season hole.

To do so, Real Salt Lake must tighten up defensively, as opponents have outscored the club by nine goals in 2017. Only Minnesota United has conceded more goals this season (25) than Real Sale Lake (18). The Revs haven’t fared much better, conceding 16 goals of its own (1.6 goals per match). Which club will break out of its rut this weekend?

2. Will Joao Plata find his form?

Quick, smooth over the ball and deadly on the finish, Plata has terrorized opposing defenses throughout his seven-year MLS career. But the Ecuadorian forward has yet to find his form in 2017, failing to record a goal in six appearances.

To make matters worse, Plata recently aggravated RSL head man Mike Petke after missing a flight to Salt Lake City and showing up late to practice the next day. Then, RSL acquired promising young forward Jefferson Savarino, who could soon push Plata for minutes.

While Plata, 25, has plenty of career ahead, his tenure in Salt Lake City could be nearing its end. Will the speedy forward continue his downward slide this weekend? Or will he finally find his form?

3. Will Kelyn Rowe make another start at left back?

Over the past two seasons, Rowe’s versatility has allowed Jay Heaps to make crafty adjustments to his Starting XI and in-game lineup. Lately, that adjustment has included Rowe starting at left back in place of veteran Chris Tierney. Rowe has typically then moved into the midfield in the second half.

While Rowe has held his own as a member of the Revolution back line, he reportedly prefers to play in an attacking midfield role. That’s undoubtedly where he plays his best soccer.

How will Heaps respond? Will he keep Rowe at left back, or give Tierney another start and push Rowe into the midfield?

4. Will Juan Agudelo see the field?

The Revolution forward, who has scored six goals in 10 matches this season, unexpectedly landed on the injury report this week. Officially listed as questionable, Agudelo is recovering from an upper extremity injury.

If he doesn’t start, the Revolution will count on Kei Kamara—assuming he rejoins the team after welcoming a baby boy into his family on Friday—to turn in a full shift.

5. Can the Revolution end its slide vs. Real Salt Lake?

History doesn’t favor the Revolution ahead of this weekend’s match against RSL. In the previous nine meetings between the two sides, the Revs have won just once. In the past seven meetings, the Revs have conceded 18 goals.

Things have looked up lately, as the Revolution have recorded back-to-back clean sheets against the Royals, winning once and drawing once. The club will look to maintain that trend on Saturday when Chris Wingert & Co. come to town.