Real Salt Lake: 2020 Preview – No Jefferson Savarino, no playoffs?

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Real Salt Lake

MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA – SEPTEMBER 15: Albert Rusnak #11 of Real Salt Lake is congratulated by Donny Toia #4 and Everton Luiz after Rusnak scored a goal in the first half against Minnesota United during the game at Allianz Field on September 15, 2019 in St Paul, Minnesota. United defeated Salt Lake 3-1. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)

With less than a month to go until the start of the 2020 MLS campaign, we are taking a look at how each team has evolved since last year and their chances this term. This time, Real Salt Lake.

For the first time in five seasons, Real Salt Lake finished inside the top three in the Western Conference as they ended the regular season in third place. Prior to the 2015 campaign, the club finished inside the top three in the West for five successive terms before a recent dip in form. In 2019, they were back to their best.

Salt Lake hosted the Portland Timbers in the opening round of the playoffs, winning thanks to a late Jefferson Savarino goal, but were thwarted at the same stage as last season when they lost to the eventual MLS Cup champions, the Seattle Sounders.

There was disappointment in the country’s domestic cup competition as well as Real Salt Lake were knocked out of the U.S. Open Cup in the fourth round, beaten 3-0 at home by Los Angeles FC. RSL were also one of three MLS sides to lose in the quarter-finals, beaten by Tigres UANL 1-0.

Here is how things shape up for Real Salt Lake ahead of the 2020 season.

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON – OCTOBER 23: Jefferson Savarino #7 of Real Salt Lake moves the ball down the pitch during the match against the Seattle Sounders at CenturyLink Field on October 23, 2019 in Seattle, Washington. The Seattle Sounders top the Real Salt Lake 2-0 to win the Western Conference Semifinal. (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)

Best Performers

Three members of Real Salt Lake’s 2019 squad made it over the WhoScored 7/10 average rating for their performances over the regular season. Not coincidentally, they were the club’s three top-scorers in MLS.

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RSL’s top performer last season was Jefferson Savarino. The young forward, who plays both out wide and through the middle, scored eight times and aisssted five more goals in his 28 appearances. Albert Rusnak was the only member of the squad to score double-digit goals in 2019, and along with Damir Kreilach, the pair complete RSL’s 7/10 members.

Aaron Herrera was the club’s best-performing defender last term, averaging out to a 6.86/10 from the left-back role which he made his own, while Nick Rimando was, once again, a force to be reckoned with in between the sticks.

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