There were plenty of fireworks in the eight goal Independence Day match. Real Salt Lake finally got things rolling and earned three points on the road.
It felt like a long time coming for RSL fans. Real Salt Lake have shown flashes of promise over the recent weeks, but have been unable to finish their chances while also making mistakes on defense. Things finally started clicking against the Galaxy. The flood gates opened and Albert Rusnák, Jefferson Savarino, Joao Plata, Kyle Beckerman, and Yura Movsisyan all finished their chances. After last night, Real now sits behind only NYCFC in shots on goal, so hopefully this is a sign of more things to come.
Here are some things that stood out from the match.
A Complete Game
On top of the finishing, the defense played well most of the match. Aaron Maund looking like the standout center back he has been in the two previous seasons with RSL. He kept the Galaxy off the board in the 16th minute with another one of his classic goal-line clearances. Veterans Tony Beltran and Demar Phillips both played well on the outside, and played a key part in linking the back line to the attack.
The strong play of the team was great, but just adds to the frustration that comes when they play as flat as they have in the matches leading up to this match. While the Galaxy were missing a few pieces and have struggled at home, this is the type of results that give RSL Nation hope that there is still time for them to turn things around and push for a playoff spot.
As we are just over the midpoint of the season, there is still time to do just that. With Marcelo Silva likely to help the defense take a step forward, if the attack really can start putting their chances away regularly, RSL could definitely claw their way above the red line and make a run, but there is very little room for error at this point.
The Attacking Flurry
Albert Rusnák immediately made his presence felt in his first full return to the first team. Not only with the opening goal, but with several key passes through the middle. He found Demar Phillips with a beautiful cross that allowed Phillips take advantage of the space and find Yura Movsisyan for a goal. Rusnák should be available in the immediate future, and more performances like this one is sure to garner attention.
Jefferson Savarino also had himself quite the night. He finished two chances in this one, the first a beautiful strike from the top of the box after a Rusnák corner was deflected, then he was in the right place at the right time for a simple tap-in on a Rusnák shot that was blocked. His finishing abilities were part of what attracted the team to his play at Zulia FC, and now that he has gotten his first (and second) goal, hopefully he also starts to finish his chances regularly.
Speaking of finishing, Yura finished another chance and got a goal. It was buried under the other goals, but it was still a nice finish, and one that he had been missing previously. Regardless of your feelings on Yura, his salary, his celebrations, or his comments, RSL is better when Yura scores, so hopefully this is the sign of things to come, as he has now scored in two of the last three games.
Underrated: The Midfield
Kyle Beckerman and Luke Mulholland did well behind Rusnák both in provided defensive coverage as well as linking up play. At several points during the match, RSL was able to string together several short passes in limited space. Most notably was the series of passes between Rusnák, Mulholland, Joao Plata, and Brooks Lennon, which led to the highlight-reel goal by Plata.
Much like the defense, their performance only stands out as what can be expected of them on a good day. While the Galaxy added some reserves into their lineup, they paid for by getting ran off the field by a first choice RSL XI, which is what good teams are supposed to do when teams play depth against them.
Hopefully this is a sign that Real Salt Lake is transitioning back into being one of those good teams.