Clearly, RSL inserted some newer faces into the lineup with the notable absences of the likes of Nick Rimando, Kyle Beckerman, Juan Manuel Martinez, Javier Morales, and Jamison Olave. Things turned out much better than many of us likely expected. This was quite possibly RSL's most complete performance in MLS play so far this year, and that against Sporting KC in Kansas City. Real Salt Lake looked every bit the better team on the night, even without many of their veteran leaders.
So who shined when the opportunity presented itself? Three names stick out: Justen Glad, Luke Mulholland, and Joao Plata. Many RSL fans would prefer that Justen Glad be the consistent starter from here on, and they got their first good look at him in 2016 on Saturday night. He didn't just do well, he excelled. Did Glad have the perfect game? No. He had a couple of poor clearances and let Dom Dwyer beat him once or twice which could have been costly. Overall, he had an extremely solid performance. Dwyer was ineffective and frustrated for much of the night, Glad got his first goal, and he played with confidence. This will make decisions difficult for Cassar going forward. Glad will likely still have inconsistent performances, so how often and which games he plays coupled with the expected acquisition of a new CB will be compelling to watch.
Luke Mulholland, who started most of last season, got his first start in KC and did well to show why he should be on the field more often. He scored the dagger goal most notably, but he reminded us why his offensive threat is worth having on the pitch.
And lastly, Joao Plata. Joao was already a starter, sure. But how clear is it now that Plata's injury really hurt us last year? A healthy Joao Plata is driving the offense so far. He has three goals and three assists so far this season after notching another assist to set up Justen Glad. I'm stating the obvious here, but those kind of stats over four games are really impressive. If he keeps that up or something close to it, he really could be on par for a milestone season for the club and would have to be in the MVP conversation. Of course, we shouldn't get too excited because a lot can happen over the course of a season, but let's enjoy these performances now.