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In His First MLS Start, Sam Johnson Was Best On Ground

(Robert Hitz, Real Salt Lake)

SANDY, Utah – Real Salt Lake lost to the Seattle Sounders 1-0 away from home over the weekend. It was a game of two halves as the Sounders got the better of the visitors in the first 45 minutes, dominating the chances and control of the game. Half time adjustments from head coach Mike Petke seemed to help RSL as the second half was played on the visitors terms.

Sounders captain Nicolás Lodeiro hit a volley, despite falling away from the ball, in the 18th minute and beat Nick Rimando at his near post to put the hosts up 1-0. It turned out to be the difference in the highly contested match.

Jefferson Savarino had the best chance to equalize for RSL as the young Venezuelan found himself one on one with Seattle goalkeeper Stefan Frei in the 75th minute, only to hit the post.

A wonderful effort from the away club in a hostile environment.

Seattle improve their winning record at home against RSL to nine out of a possible 12 games.

Here is how the players were rated after the loss, on a scale of 0-10.

0-5: The player did not play well or did not get enough minutes to judge performance correctly.

6-7: The player played well, but had moments where they did not make good decisions.

8-9: The player was very impressive, had very few mistakes and offered a lot of production.

10: The player played a perfect game. No mistakes, everything the player touched turned to gold.

Goalkeeper

Nick Rimando, 6

Rimando had a good night against a very dangerous Seattle attack. He made two saves, but will be kicking himself for letting Lodeiro beat him at his near post to score the only goal of the match.

Defenders

Right Back: Brooks Lennon, 7

Lennon was solid for the visitors over the course of the 90 minutes. Again, Lennon found himself running up and down the right side of the pitch doing his best to defend but to also get forward when the time called for it. Lennon is still figuring out the role of right back, but seems to be committed to perfecting his craft and becoming the best possible player he can become.

Center Back: Marcelo Silva,7

Silva was having a good evening before going down with injury and consequently coming off in the 87th minute. For the highly touted center back, his career at Real Salt Lake has unfortunately been hampered by muscle injuries over the years. Hopefully the injury sustained over the weekend will not keep him off the pitch for too long, but at age 30 you worry that the recovery will take longer than it should.

Center Back: Nedum Onuoha, 8

Onuoha has been a bright spot for RSL this season. Once again, Onuoha was the rock on defense and used his leadership and skill to help stop the Sounder’s attack and then start the counter for RSL. Onuoha can occasionally try to do too much when the ball is at his feet, regardless, he was again very good against a dangerous attack.

Left Back: Aaron Herrera, 7

Herrera would be the first to tell you that he has not been in the best of form over the last month. However, he was able to rebound against Seattle. Herrera was very good controlling Jordan Morris, a young and exciting American forward.

Midfielders

Center Midfield: Everton Luiz, 8

Luiz has been sensational this season, and was again at his best against the Sounders. Frequently, Luiz would pinch the football deep in his own defense and spark an opportunity for the visitors to capitalize on. Luiz was aggressive with his tackling, but was also very particular with his disposal of the ball when attacking.

Center Midfield: Kyle Beckerman, 7

Beckerman played his role. He sat slightly behind Luiz when RSL had the ball and helped organize the defense throughout the course of the game. Beckerman is clearly not the same player he once was, however his work rate is and continues to be second to none.

Right Wing: Corey Baird, 6

Baird started in his preferred position as opposed to starting at striker. His work rate and explosive attacking play was on full display against the Sounders. Despite not having as big of an impact as he would have liked, Baird held his own and was a threat when RSL were going forward. There is no question that Baird’s future is at right wing for RSL.

Center Attacking Midfield: Albert Rusnak, 7

Rusnak was not as dangerous as he has been in RSL colors, but was good nonetheless. The Slovakian international controlled the attacking side of midfield and is an outlet to the rest of his teammates.

Left Wing: Jefferson Savarino, 8

Savarino was spectacular. He had the best chance of the game for RSL, after he found himself one on one with Stefan Frei, only to hit the post. Savarino needs to work on his finishing as he is constantly beating defenders and putting himself in positions to score. There were two occasions throughout the first half in which Savarino pulled the trigger from 25-30 yards when he should have looked up and seen the likes of Johnson and Rusnak making dangerous runs into the area.

Striker

Striker: Sam Johnson, 9 

Johnson got his first start in MLS over the weekend. He was the best player on the pitch for RSL as he did everything required at the position. RSL has not had a number 9 perform as well as Johnson did since the days of Saborio in 2015. Johnson was able to hold up the ball against big and physical Seattle center backs, and was also able to showcase his speed and athleticism. In the 52nd minute, Johnson hit a shot with his non preffered left foot from just outside the box that went flying by the left post. The contact was exquisite and showed promising signs to the RSL faithful. Johnson should play significant minutes as the season progresses. Unfortunately, due to match fitness he was subbed in the 69th minute to Sebastian Saucedo.

The Bench

Sebastian Saucedo, 5

Bofo entered the match in the 69th minute for striker Sam Johnson. The lineup changed slightly as Baird went to striker and Bofo moved to the right wing. Bofo was explosive and confident in the 21 minutes he played.

Tate Schmitt, 3

Schmitt only got 8 minutes of playing time as he came on in the 85th minute for Corey Baird. His opportunities were limited and was unable to have any impact on the match.

Luis Arriaga, 3

Arriaga only got 6 minutes of action, coming into the match for Marcelo Silva in the 87th minute due to an injury.

Next Up

Real Salt Lake comes home to face Orlando City SC on Saturday at 7 p.m.

RSL homegrown player Danilo Acosta, who is currently on loan to Orlando, returns home to face his former teammates for the first time since leaving.

Orlando is currently in 6th place in the Eastern Conference and are coming off a 4-3 victory over the Colorado Rapids.

The match on Saturday can be streamed for free on KSLSports.com, as well as the KSL TV app.

Reminder

KSLSports.com in collaboration with Real Salt Lake have launched a new podcast. It is the official Real Salt Lake podcast for all your club news and updates. Tom Hackett, Spencer Warne and Director of PR for RSL Matt Gashck break down the games and discuss important club matters.

To listen to The Lion’s Den, click here. It is available on iTunes, Google Play or wherever you get your podcasts. Don’t forger to rate and subscribe!