What a week it has been for Real Salt Lake; 3 games, 3 wins and 9 points with 3 different starting XI’s in all of the games played. Mike Petke is working tirelessly to make sure his players do not run out of steam mid-way through a game, the depth of the roster is being tested.
It all started on Saturday, May 26th, at Century Link Field when RSL decided to control 54% of possession and snatch their first away victory since August of 2017…In the 61st minute, Bofo Saucedo scored an absolute worldie from 28 yards out beating Stefan Frei at his far post and opening up the scoring account for the young #23. It was everything the club needed following a 4-1 thumping away from home at the hands of the Philadelphia Union. A change in the lineup also took place with Sunny joining Kyle Beckerman at CDM with Albert Rusnak in front of them at CAM, that meant Damir Kreilach was left on the bench to start the match. This not only was a tactical move by Mike Petke, it also gave Kreilach rest knowing that he will start the following two matches while Albert Rusnak leaves for international duty. Rusnak had more space and he made the most of it, feeding balls in behind the defense while the addition of Sunny allowed Beckerman to take a deep sigh of relief. It looked so much better. Danny Acosta was rewarded with a MLS Team of the Week selection as well.
⏪ Highlights from #SEAvRSL pic.twitter.com/Q2s5LRUumw
— Real Salt Lake (@RealSaltLake) May 27, 2018
4 days later the in-form Houston Dynamo came into Rio Tinto Stadium hoping to capitalize on RSL’s slow start to the season. Another change in the line-up occurred for the home team with Nick Besler playing alongside Sunny, giving captain Kyle Beckerman some much-needed rest. As expected, Damir Kreilach moves up into CAM with Rusnak away and Luis Silva gets the nod to start as the striker over Corey Baird. Fortunately, the move to play Silva over Baird paid off as Silva opened the scoring in the 34th minute with a very cute glancing header to beat Joe Willis at his far post, Bofo Saucedo with the devilish cross and the assist. However, with about 10 minutes left in the first half it was evident the Dynamo had picked up the tempo and RSL were struggling to keep up, this barrage continued throughout the early parts of the second half and they were awarded the equalizer thanks to Alberth Ellis in the 75th minute. Real Salt Lake woke up again after the equalizer and put the game away in the 82nd minute when Bofo Saucedo put the ball in from a corner kick and Damir Kreilach chested the ball down the Beckerman for him to nutmeg Willis and smack the ball into the bottom left-hand corner. Another massive victory for RSL, they controlled 56% of possession and were able to pick up another big 3 points.
What a night at the RioT!
⤵️ Take another look at last night's win over Houston. pic.twitter.com/rzeCD0fPQE
— Real Salt Lake (@RealSaltLake) May 31, 2018
On Saturday the 2nd of June RSL hosted the Seattle Sounders for their 3rd game in 7 days and to nobody’s surprise more changes to the starting XI took place, Corey Baird went back to the #9 role over Luis Silva and Kyle Beckerman sent Nick Besler back to the bench. Joao Plata also got the start for Bofo Saucedo however, he did suffer another injury, this time to his lower back, and was substituted in the 41st minute for Bofo. Corey Baird scored a tap-in header in the 57th minute thanks to a deflected Danny Acosta shot and added to his tally of 4 goals on the year which leads all RSL players to date. The final goal came from Luis Silva who capitalized on a fast break opportunity from a Sounders corner kick in which the GK Frei joined the attack, Silva slotted the ball into an open goal from just inside his own half. A massive 2-0 win to give RSL their 9th point in 7 days and catapult them into sole possession of 3rd spot in the West. Mike Petke and Danny Acosta named to MLS Team of the Week with Justin Glad and Nick Rimando listed on the bench.
Masterful moves by Mike Petke and exquisite football by the lads on the pitch all helped RSL regain their confidence and momentum as they look ahead to the second half of the season. Damir Kreilach has proved that he is more than capable of playing CAM in replace of Rusnak and Bofo Saucedo has finally made a name for himself on the biggest stage.
Up next for RSL is Sporting Kansas City in the 4th round of the Open Cup this Wednesday night at the RioT. Expect more changes to be made from Mike Petke as rest is very much required now for many of the players that contributed over the last 3 games.
Follow me on Twitter @TomCantHackett for all your latest RSL updates!