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Know Thy Enemy: Scott Caldwell’s Homecoming Edition with RSL Soapbox

Scott Caldwell will be playing at Gillette Stadium in a slightly different shade of red and blue this week and we couldn’t be happier for him.

Seattle Sounders v Real Salt Lake Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images

Scott Caldwell traded in his usual navy and red for claret and blue and it seems to be working out for the Braintree, MA, native and former New England Revolution homegrown.

Just a couple of games into his Real Salt Lake career, Scotty has two starts, 179 minutes played, and two yellow cards in two games which are numbers sure to make Kyle Beckerman and Jermaine Jones proud.

It was very clear last year that Scotty wasn’t going to be getting playing time over Matt Polster at holding midfield but only getting two starts and not even 200 total minutes last year clearly meant he wasn’t being rated by Bruce Arena and the Revs staff. Why, I have no idea, because Caldwell is the exact type of player you should want to bring in off the bench a lot to help solve that issue where Matt Polster was always in a 1-vs-3 late in games.

But the Revs loss appears to be RSL’s gain this year as Scotty hasn’t lost a step and is doing so in a 3-4-3 formation next to Pablo Ruiz in the middle of the park. This effectively makes Andrew Farrell the last of the “old guard” from the Jay Heaps era and the 2014 MLS Cup run with Kelyn Rowe and Diego Fagundez also moving on to Seattle and Austin respectively.

Now, Revs fans know that Scotty isn’t going to be piling up the goals or assists but that’s not why he’s on the field. He’s there to do a lot of the little things that makes scoring goals easier from solid positional play, ball recoveries, and high pass completion numbers. I assume Caldwell spent a lot of time playing against Carles Gil in training so maybe he has some good scouting information on how to stop the reigning MVP. Assuming he starts at all with the Revs in the middle of their CCL quarterfinals.

Obviously not all good things can last forever and we couldn’t be happier to see Scott get the playing time he deserves and is capable of, even if that means it’s not with New England.

As always we chat with our good friend Matt Montgomery over at RSL Soapbox about of course Scott Caldwell’s impact in Utah and also an extremely lengthy injury list for RSL that might force them to rotate a lot of players while the Revs might rotate their lineup for the CCL. I already complained last week that MLS shouldn’t have scheduled this game in the first place, so it will be interesting to see how many regular first teamers the Revs and RSL combine to start tomorrow due to rest and/or attrition.

As always, you can check out my answers to Matt’s questions over on their site.

TBM: Is Scotty Caldwell doing okay? Does he have regular access to a Dunkin Donuts? But more importantly how is he fitting on the field for RSL after two starts in what I think is a 3-4-3 formation?

MM: I didn’t know a whole lot about Scott Caldwell when he joined Real Salt Lake, but he’s started our first two matches, and it sure looks like he could become a regular figure before (er, if?) we sign a high-profile designated player. I’m definitely surprised, which is perhaps not fair to Caldwell, but seeing a big drop in minutes from 2018-forward certainly didn’t instill me with confidence. But he’s stepped into a position of real need and played about as well as anybody could have asked. He’s given enough midfield stability that the 3-4-3 has had a shot at working, and while I don’t know what the long-term outlook for Caldwell is, the near-future view is positive.

TBM: Two shutouts in two games so far, and a 1-0 win at home to Seattle last week, what’s been the most impressive about RSL so far in 2022 and does this team look like a squad that is much improved from the team that grabbed the last playoff spot in the West last year on Decision Day?

MM: So, uh, this is weird, but Scott Caldwell is really our only improvement of note, in that he’s not replaced a player directly. Our only other addition is Sergio Cordova, who has much to prove before he’s an improvement over Anderson Julio. We haven’t replaced Albert Rusnak, we have a solitary left back (Tate Schmitt, whose experience is only in USL-level competition), and we have about sixteen players out injured. (OK — maybe I’m exaggerating here. Cut that in half. I think we have eight players injured right now. Maybe more.)

As for what’s impressive, it’s that we’ve managed to cope with all of that. Damir Kreilach was injured coming into preseason, played a match, and now is definitely out on Saturday. Rusnak hasn’t been replaced at all (Kreilach is pegged to play the attacking midfielder position, but given he’s injured, that isn’t an immediate consideration.) Rubio Rubin is out. David Ochoa is out. Zac MacMath is even “questionable” for the match.

That’s the impressive part, for me. We’ve coped with all that really well in the first two matches of the season. It’s a long season yet, and I think worry is justified, but for now, I’m feeling moderately encouraged.

TBM: That’s a lengthy injury report for RSL this early in the year, what is the latest on who might be unavailable and what changes head coach Pablo Mastroeni will have to make to his starting lineup?

MM: So, here’s my understanding:

- Damir Kreilach is out

- Aaron Herrera is out

- David Ochoa is out

- Rubio Rubin is out

- Nick Besler is out

- Zac MacMath is “questionable”

- Our two young goalkeepers, Jeff Dewsnup and Gavin Beavers, are out

So, uh, there’s three goalkeepers out and one injured. I hope your players have forgotten how to shoot. As for how to replace those players — I dunno, you just have to put players in who might be able to play. That’s about all you can do when four starters are out.

Lineup/Predictions/Etc

In a 3-4-3:

Tomas Gomez (short-term signing); Holt, Glad, Silva; Brody, Ruiz, Caldwell, Schmitt; Chang, Wood, Meram

You might see Jonathan Menendez instead of Justin Meram, or you might see Jasper Loeffelsend, too. Your guess might be as good as mine. The bigger question: Who’s on the bench? I don’t know that we can field a full bench meaningfully.

As for a scoreline prediction, you choose a scoreline that makes you happy — that’s way more likely, I think, and I’m sad about it.