Real Salt Lake sits with 14 points through 6 games of the season. While realistically the first half of the game was not the prettiest game that we have seen from the Claret and Cobalt, the outcome was a win, and that is what matters.
In the second half, things just started to click with RSL. Their passes were better. The positioning improved and the defense was up to the challenge of the fast paced Whitecaps. There were a few players who were consistent through the game, but this week's player who made a difference is Juan Manuel "Burrito" Martinez.
The consistency of the attack from RSL is a revelation compared to what we saw in the 2015 season where goals came few and far between. So far this season, and especially last night, every time RSL had a chance to score, they did not miss by much. It seemed as though it was a cross bar that saved the opposing team or the shot was just above the crossbar. But, there was a shot that put RSL on the score board and it came from Burrito. It was a beautiful set up and assist by Joao Plata, Burrito has able to hold the ball for just a second to commit the defender to chase him just enough to to cut back and shoot the ball to the far post and have the game's only goal.
Burrito's goal was not the only reason we picked him as the player who made a difference, it is his ball handling skills that separated him from the rest of the players. His quick thinking and his ability to take on multiple defenders and come out running is nothing short of spectacular. His partnership with Tony Beltran is a thing of beauty.
Evidenced many times this season, Burrito will take on defenders while Beltran will go past them and just when the defenders commit to Burrito, he makes a beautiful pass to Beltran to keep the run of play going. He is also able to play from the left and the right side of the field and still create chances. Can he get better? I think we are just starting to see what Burrito can do.
Real Salt Lake goes on the road to face another Western Conference opponent: LA Galaxy. They will take on the star-studded team and play for another three points on the road.