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Real Salt Lake vs. New York Red Bulls: Plata, Allen win Men of the Match

RSL’s first preseason exhibition showed who’s ready to hit the ground running.

MLS: New York Red Bulls at Real Salt Lake Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

RSL’s first preseason match against the New York Red Bulls did not show us a lot, but it did show us who is ready to hit the ground running. Preseason is somewhat unique because there are a lot of player combinations we likely won’t see in the regular season and wholesale substitutions at the half. For that reason, I will give two “Men of the Match” for these types of games.

For the first half, Joao Plata looked like the best player on the field. He was head and shoulders above the rest, not literally of course, in how much he threatened. The vast majority of Real Salt Lake’s scoring chances over the course of the first 45 minutes went through Plata. He did not score a goal, which at this point is not that important. What is important, however, is that he looked sharper than the rest of the players and looked like a focal point whether intentionally or not. He was in the right spaces to receive the ball and did well with it when he had it. Maybe he’s feeling good about his contract extension?

In the second half, it’s hard not to give the award to Jordan Allen. He scored the game’s lone goal off of a nice ball from Ricardo Velazco. JA70 headed the ball home towards the far post and built some confidence early in the preseason to hopefully propel him going forward. Allen has stated that he wants to lock down that starting spot and came out with some aggression with some good looks at goal. If he keeps this up, his speed and skill on the ball will be valuable this season.