RSL’s Depth Was Difference In Win Over Vancouver
SANDY, Utah – Real Salt Lake picked up their first win of the season with a 1-0 result over the Vancouver Whitecaps.
It was RSL’s home opener and the team played well in front of over 17,000 fans.
Albert Rusnak scored his second goal of the season off of a penalty kick in the 21st minute, which was the difference in the match. Rusnak has scored RSL’s two goals this season.
The penalty was awarded to Real after forward Corey Baird was on the attack in Vancouver’s 18-yard box, when he was tripped up by a Whitecaps defender.
Sam Johnson’s Spark
Recently signed forward Sam Johnson seems to be more comfortable with his new club in Real Salt Lake. He came into the game in the second half and was a big reason for the success in the second half. Johnson maintained the attacking mindset as he pushed the ball forward.
Although he didn’t find the back of the net, he kept Vancouver from possessing the ball in RSL’s defensive half. His ability to get the ball in the air is a big advantage for the club.
“Sam’s got quality. I’ve been in this league for 20 years now,” said RSL head coach Mike Petke after the game. “I’ve been around foreign players every year. To come and get adjusted to a league like this is not very easy. Sam is doing very well, and he is somebody who I know is going to play a big roll for us starting now into the future. I thought he had some good touches. I thought he worked his a** off, won some head balls, and had a chance getting to goal which is partly him making himself available in that moment and partially us finding him,” he added.
Defense Continued Momentum
After a great performance in the 1-1 draw against Houston last week, defensive midfield tandem Kyle Beckerman and Everton Luiz had another solid week together for RSL. They did a great job of controlling the midfield early in the first half. Vancouver came out of the halftime break with more urgency, but after about 10
Defender Aaron Herrera had a sensational game as he shut down the attackers of the Whitecaps. It was a collective effort on the back line for Real Salt Lake to pick up the shutout.
Petke was pleased with his defense for the second straight week.
“Yeah, like we said during pre-season we really focused on that, because we’re on the road so much the first 15 games. Last weekend’s performance one shot on goal was excellent,” Petke said. “Tonight, I thought the first half all around complete control of the game from us and defensively we were extremely sound. The second half they obviously are trailing one nothing they come out of halftime and have a bit more energy, they have changed a bit tactically and we were able to hold off for the 1-nothing win – it was an excellent performance,” he said.
RSL will face D.C. United on Saturday at 6 p.m. The game will be streamed on the KSL TV app and KSLSports.com.