Real Salt Lake, the only American club to reach the final of the Concacaf Champions League, opens the 2016 quarterfinals at Mexico's Tigres on Wednesday. RSL is the only one of the four MLS
representatives in the final eight that did not make the 2015 MLS playoffs. The Tigres' series will give it a chance to put a new foot forward.
For now, Jeff Cassar has largely
kept last year's team intact. Eight players are gone, but none of them started more than half of RSL's games.
Two new acquisitions in the starting lineup are Nigerian midfielder Sunny
Obayan and Yura Movsisyan, who returns for his second tour with RSL after six seasons in Denmark and Russia. Movsisyan is a major upgrade for RSL up front, where he joins Joao
Plata and Juan Manuel Martinez, who arrived in the middle of the 2015 season.
The big concern remains at center back, where Chris Schuler was not retained after playing
only five games during an injury-stricken 2015 campaign. Nigerian Jerry Akaminko was brought into training camp in Arizona but left without being signed. That means Aaron Maund will
likely slot in at center back alongside veteran Jamison Olave.
Real Salt Lake Probable XI: Rimando; Beltran, Olave, Maund, Phillips; Beckerman, Obayan, Morales; Martinez, Movsisyan, Plata.
TIGRES. Monterrey-based Tigres is one of the most popular clubs in Mexico and coming off a highly successful 2015 when it finished second in
the Copa Libertadores and won Liga MX's Torneo Apertura in December.
Through seven games in the Torneo Apertura, Tigres is tied for fifth place with three wins, two losses and two ties.
It will be without injured midfielder Javier Aquino (tendinitis), but it is loaded up front with Frenchman Andre-Pierre Gignac (22 goals in 27 games), Brazilian Rafael Sobis and
Mexican speedster Jurgen Damm.