Real Salt Lake Player Grades Versus San Jose Earthquakes

Jul 28, 2020, 2:10 PM
Players of Real Salt Lake huddle before a round of 16 match of the MLS Is Back Tournament between S...
Players of Real Salt Lake huddle before a round of 16 match of the MLS Is Back Tournament between San Jose Earthquakes and Real Salt Lake at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex on July 27, 2020 in Reunion, Florida. (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)
(Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Real Salt Lake has been eliminated from the MLS Is Back tournament following a 5-2 defeat at the hands of the San Jose Earthquakes. Despite the eventual scoreline the match was played in exciting fashion. San Jose scored two goals late in the goal to blow the lead out. It was 3-2 up until the 86th minute and there was a lot of action to unpack.

Manager, Freddy Juarez: C Juarez struggled to implement his philosophy and strategy in the game. Historically, Juarez enjoys to possess the football and make the opposition teams chase. San Jose dominated the possession from the get-go, RSL was unable to control the tempo of the game. RSL is not a team that is built to play from behind, something they struggled with against San Jose. His first substitution was made at half time when Donny Toia was taken off for Alvin Jones who struggled to have any impact, rather, Jones’s first passage of play in the game came when he pushed Tommy Thompson in the back to gift the Quakes a penalty in the 49th minute.

Goalkeeper, Zac MacMath: C It was the second consecutive match in which MacMath was poor. He should have saved the first goal of the match by Espinoza and made a number of errors throughout the course of the match. Despite a positive start to the tournament, it seems as though the RSL goalkeeper position is now up for grabs. Can Andrew Putna take advantage of an opportunity if one is presented to him?

Right-back, Aaron Herrera: B Yet again, Herrera was one of the better RSL players on the night. Herrera continues to impress and has quickly become a vital piece to the RSL puzzle. His work rate is exceptional as he constantly finds himself assisting in the attack, while his defense is superb as well. Herrera is a pivotal player for the success of RSL.

Center-back, Justen Glad: B- Glad made a number of big plays to help keep RSL in the contest. His willingness to throw himself at the football is impressive. Glad is a difficult man to beat as his speed in tracking back is remarkable for a center-back. Glad’s impact against San Jose was limited, however. San Jose predominantly attacked down the wings and disallowed Glad to play himself into the game.

Center-back, Marcelo Silva: B Silva was one of the better players for RSL until he was shown red for a nasty challenge in the 86th minute. Silva assisted Kreilach on RSL’s third goal of the evening. He was controlling the play down the spine and utilized his big frame to push the ball out wide. However, much like Glad, found himself defending in space which is every defender’s worst nightmare.

Left-back, Donny Toia: C Toia struggled and was subsequently benched at half-time. Toia had arguably the hardest role on the team trying to defend San Jose’s designated player and star wingman Cristian Espinoza. Espinoza scored the first goal of the match when he found himself one-on-one with Toia who let him slide onto his preferred right food and beat MacMath easily. RSL has issues at left-back, there is no shying away from that.

Center-midfield, Everton Luiz: B- Luiz did everything in his power to limit the influx of ball movement in the midfield by San Jose. Unfortunately, his efforts were not enough. Luiz had no answer to the quick transition that San Jose was threatening with. RSL continued to look stagnant when the ball entered their attacking third. The ball movement and spacing needs to improve for Luiz to play his best brand of soccer.

Center-midfield, Pablo Ruiz: B- Ruiz got his second start for RSL and impressed. Ruiz continues to look more and more comfortable on the ball. He immediately looks to play a through ball to attacking options and does so with ease on his left foot. Ruiz has the potential to be one of the more threatening midfielders for RSL in the near future, he is still developing.

Center-attacking midfield, Damir Kreilach: B Kreilach started to find the ball in space late in the game. During the second half he had three really good looks on goal in which he was able to convert one of them. It took Kreilach too long to play himself into the contest, however. Kreilach is one of the most important players for RSL on any given night and during an elimination game, he needed to offer more earlier in the match.

Right-wing, Albert Rusnak: B- Rusnak’s ability is through the roof. He is a top 10 player in MLS when he plays well. The problem is, he is too inconsistent. He goes missing for long stretches throughout games, much like Kreilach. Rusnak is also more suited to playing more centrally, Juarez opted to play him on the wing, however.

Left-wing, Corey Baird: C Baird found himself in many dangerous positions throughout the course of the evening. He was threatening and constantly running at San Jose. Baird has struggled with his final decision making. Whether it is running into a wall of opposing defenders or taking a heavy touch late in the passage of play. Regardless, Baird is slowly developing into a true winger and will hopefully continue to succeed over the remainder of the year.

Striker: Douglas Martinez Jr. B+ Martinez scored his first goal for RSL with a beautiful scoop over Vega. Martinez was electric throughout the entirety of the match. His energy was impressive and arguably the biggest factor in keeping RSL in the game. Currently, he is the number one striker on the RSL roster and continues to develop the more minutes he plays.

Bench Impact

Left-back, Alvin Jones: C Jones struggled to say the least. He had not played professional football for a while and it showed. He did show glimpses of his ability throughout the second half but was behind the eight ball on too many occasions. It looks like Donny Toia is losing the trust of Juarez, Jones may see more minutes over the remainder of the season, whatever that entails.

Center-midfield, Kyle Beckerman: C Captain Becks came on midway through the second half despite RSL being down two goals in an elimination match. His impact was irrelevant. Beckerman is best suited as a defensive midfielder who can control the tempo and fluidity of a match. He is not a player that you should expect to be involved in the attack. Head scratcher from Juarez. Beckerman ultimately gave away a penalty in the dying seconds of the match when the game was already lost and then received a red card following the conclusion of the match after kicking the ball into the referee once the final whistle blew. Beckerman was set up to fail.

Left-wing, Justin Meram: C Meram has looked sloppy since joining RSL earlier this year. His final touch is lacking and his ability to beat defenders one-on-one is struggling. Meram did offer a slight spark upon his arrival and gave RSL some energy.

Tom Hackett is a Utah and Real Salt Lake Insider for and host of the It’s Utah’s World Podcast (Utah Football themed) and The Lion’s Den Podcast (Real Salt Lake themed). Follow him on Twitter: @TomCantHackett.

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