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Five observations from RSL’s 2-1 win over Portland Timbers

The kids are more than just alright.

MLS: Portland Timbers at Real Salt Lake Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Well, I’ll be damned if that wasn’t the biggest win we’ve seen at Rio Tinto Stadium in a long time. We won one of those must-win games, and we have two more at the stadium coming up.

As usual, I’ve got some thoughts, and I’m going to hoist them at you, because really, what better do I have to do?

1. Luke Mulholland was massive

I’ve been frankly critical of Luke Mulholland for some time, but this was one of those nights where he really looked like he deserved a starting spot. Against a team like Portland, his energetic midfield play helped make a difference, and he really did look like he was playing the box-to-box role we need from him.

Maybe it’s the pressure from Sunny behind him, or maybe it’s external, but that was one of Mulholland’s better games in 2017, to my memory. He didn’t have any key passes, and he only had two crosses, but he didn’t need more. He helped connect things, and he really put some good pressure on the Portland defense.

2. Jefferson Savarino is the real deal

He’s not perfect — he’s still young, after all — but he’s rapidly becoming one of the biggest players at our little club. His ability to shoot from ridiculous angles and score even more ridiculous goals should be talked about everywhere.

You know what’s great about this goal, aside from everything? If we keep doing things like this, teams will start adjusting their marking specifically to account for Savarino. That might not work out well for Savarino, but it will open new angles, channels and options for Joao Plata and our striker on the night.

Anyway, that goal? It’s like Savarino’s playing the game on easy. Unreal.

3. Rusnak is our leading scorer

If you consider goals with assists as a tiebreaker, Albert Rusnak would win RSL’s Golden Boot race if the season ended today. We have four games left to see what happens here, but Rusnak being in the lead is delightful. He’s been a great contributor to this team, and when he’s on, he’s magical.

The magic is definitely of a different sort than the last man to play his position, but it’s magic all the same.

Seriously. That goal. Wow.

4. We’re imperfect

No surprises here, but there’s still a lot of work before we’re the finished product. We gave up a bunch of preventable opportunities, and we certainly didn’t finish every good chance we got. Obviously, no team will finish everything, but if we can increase our success rate even slightly, we’ll be not totally dissimilar to Toronto FC in the East, and that’s saying something

5. Petke turned this team around

Remember when we lost by four-goal margins twice in one week? This team doesn’t even look remotely similar to that one. We’ve gone from looking like the worst in the league to looking like we can compete with the best.

Sports Club Stats shows us as jumping 7 percentage points with this win, and if we keep this up, we’ll make it. Will we? It’s going to be a wild, wild ride.