RSL defeats BYU 1-0 as Chris Wingert returns to action

Denzel Eslinger

Real Salt Lake defeated BYU 1-0 in a "friendly" — a chippy, bad-tackle-laden match at Rio Tinto on Monday night, with John Stertzer scoring in the final moments of the first half to give RSL the win.

The story of the night may not have been the win, as veteran defender Chris Wingert returned to action after missing preseason with a broken foot. His 30 minutes of play will give encouragement to the training staff, who will undoubtedly have been watching his fitness levels very closely.

The match was filled with bad tackles and poor challenges from an aggressive BYU side, one of which provoked a retaliatory tackle and subsequent yellow card from Kwame Watson-Siriboe.

Perhaps more surprising though is that Yordany Alvarez didn't see a yellow card at all - an improvement, to be sure. Alvarez spent the first half playing on the right side of the diamond, where he looked a bit lost; he looked a better player deep in the diamond.

Former RSL-AZ academy player Jordan Allen, 17, looked a cut above in his starting role, and during the second half, he put on a real display of footwork and ball retention. He was partnered up top alongside Olmes Garcia and played the slightly more withdrawn second-striker role.

Garcia, too, looked incredible. His skill on the ball, strength, and positioning sense were on full display during his 90-minute performance, though he did tire a bit as the match progressed.

Academy players Coco Navarro and Ive Burnett also saw time in the match, with the former, a midfielder, coming on for Allen in the second half. Navarro scored for Real Salt Lake's reserves against Colorado two weeks ago but didn't have the benefit of an unorganized back line to attack at.

Enzo Martinez played 90 minutes, half of it as a deep-lying midfielder, half as a box-to-box player in the diamond. Throughout, he looked efficient and composed - but as established players return to the first team, he may find first team minutes again difficult to come by.

Khari Stephenson also played 90 minutes as he works his way back from injury.

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