For the second time in one week Real Salt Lake beat the Western Conference leaders at home. On Wednesday, July 4th, RSL beat the then leaders Sporting KC and just 3 days later they beat new Western Conference leaders FC Dallas 2-0. How? Rio Tinto Stadium. RSL is a different team playing at home compared to on the road. This season alone, they are 1-7-1 (W-L-T) on the road compared to their home record of 8-1-1…In RSL’s defense, they have caught some unfortunate breaks on the road this season regarding the scheduling, they have traveled to all corners of the country already and we are just over the half-way point of the season.
Here are my takeaways from the FC Dallas matchup:
Jefferson Savarino, take a bow.
Jefferson Savarino played his best game in the Claret and Cobalt since he joined the club midway through 2017. He was phenomenal with his ability to beat defenders off the dribble (as always) and getting into dangerous positions to help move the football forward but what separated this performance from his previous ones was his work rate. He did not stop running up and down the pitch all night long, it was exciting. Mike Petke addressed this in his postgame press conference stating that he had been preaching to Savarino for weeks to help out more on the defensive side and tonight he delivered. In fact, Savarino played so well that he received a match ball from Mike Petke (which Petke admitted was the first given out this year) and made MLS Team Of The Week honors. Well done to the young Venezuelan phenom, here’s hoping performances like that come frequently over the remaining games from him.
Kreilach adds composure.
The big Croatian standing at 6’1 seems to stand head and shoulders above most other midfielders in the league and finally, we are seeing a more comfortable Kreilach than what was on show earlier this season. He is getting on the football more, he looks calm and poised. You knew from the get-go that Kreilach was going to make the move to the MLS work, he seemed determined and motivated and was always very polite and happy when approached. On Saturday night against FC Dallas, he played alongside Kyle Beckerman in the midfield and I thought linked up very nicely, he is moving better and looks a lot more confident than he once did earlier this year. He is a big piece to the puzzle for RSL making a deep playoff push.
Joao Plata has gone missing.
I do not have the answer, but I do know that Plata has spent the last 180 minutes of football on the bench for Real Salt Lake, this all happening after coming on in the 61st minute against Columbus Crew and getting his teams only assist in the match. He also created plenty of chances and was unfortunate not to get the equalizer late on in that contest. Maybe the soft tissue injuries in which Plata suffered earlier on in the year are lingering and the club is being very careful with his minutes? Or they are shopping him and seeing if there are any potential buyers, remember the transfer window opens on July 10th…
3 points, 2 goals, 1 birthday boy. Here are last night's highlights! pic.twitter.com/Tx1jSjFRJP
— Real Salt Lake (@RealSaltLake) July 8, 2018
Next up for RSL is a friendly match with Eintracht Frankfurt from the Bundesliga 1. They finished 11th (out of 18) and possess top-flight European talent such as Ante Rebic, who unfortunately for RSL fans, is still playing for his home country Croatia in the World Cup.
Kickoff at Rio Tinto Stadium is set for 8 pm on Tuesday the 10th of July. Make sure you catch the pregame show on ESPN 700 with myself and Spencer Warne starting at 7 pm.
For all your Real Salt Lake updates check me out on Twitter @TomCantHackett