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$RSL Stock Report: Plata’s back, Savarino rises to the top

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Real Salt Lake’s turnaround sees a rise in player stock.

MLS: Colorado Rapids at Real Salt Lake Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been a long time since we compiled an RSL stock report — and by a long time, really, I mean about three months.

And that’s largely because for the most part, every player has been up. At last reckoning, Yura Movsisyan was down and Luis Silva is up. That trend very much continued since I wrote that, with Silva winning the starting position, Movsisyan continuing on the bench, and things really just smoothing out.

But it’s time we talk about it all again, and I promise I’m not going to talk about Movsisyan and Silva.

Not too much, at least.

Up: Joao Plata

I’ll often try to balance ups and downs, but it’s really hard — our turnaround in the last two months has been swift and has involved many players. As a result, you’re going to get more ups than downs.

This is the first time all season I’ve given Plata an up. He had a serious lull, but he’s committed now, and it’s easy to see why he’s one of the most important players at Real Salt Lake. I was dismissive of this possibility, and I shouldn’t have been.

Plata might not be scoring every game, but he’s scoring, and he’s very active now. He defends, he gets forward, he’s involved — this is the Plata we knew we had before. It’s nice having back.

Up: Jefferson Savarino

Savarino came alive in July with a sudden jolt of energy, scoring his first two goals for the club in an Independence Day smash-and-grab against LA Galaxy. That was the match that signaled our turnaround in 2017. Is it a coincidence that Savarino started playing really well and we improved? I don’t think so.

He’s a definite up for me, and I’m really looking forward to the day when we bring him in on a long-term contract from his loan. I feel like it’s coming.

Down: Demar Phillips

It’s been some time since Demar Phillips played for Real Salt Lake — July 19, precisely — and even then, it was only two games, and before that, it was May 13 when he last made an appearance.

He’s been injured with startling frequency and intensity, and he’ll end this season having played — at absolute most — 16 games. Even that’s unlikely, because Mike Petke has indicated he’s at least a couple weeks out.

It’s at a point now where you have to seriously wonder if Phillips will continue at RSL in 2018. He’ll soon be 34, and I’ve got to say, it doesn’t seem likely.

Up: Connor Sparrow

With every crisis comes an opportunity, and the injury to Matt VanOekel had some interesting knock-on effects. Lalo Fernandez stopped getting regular minutes — he became RSL’s bench goalkeeper behind Nick Rimando — and Real Monarchs’ Connor Sparrow got even more minutes. The result? When Fernandez left for Tigres on a transfer, Sparrow was deemed ready for a well-deserved move to the first team.

Sparrow’s a strong goalkeeper with an excellent presence, and he’s already proving a capable penalty stopper. It certainly helps that penalties in USL seem to be a bit worse than anywhere else, but you can only stop what’s given to you.

Up: Yura Movsisyan

June 21: Down

I know, I know. I said I wouldn’t hone in on those two. I’d actually just like to pop in here to say that Movsisyan’s stock has gone up for me — it plummeted for a while, especially with his attitude proving a bit acerbic at times. But it bottomed out, and now it’s slowly risen back up a bit. Is it where it should be? Hardly. But by now, Movsisyan has started showing well, scoring the odd goal here or there, and proving a positive contributor. That’s much, much further ahead of where he was in June.