Here, as opposed to my take in the Golden Boot race, I’ll ride the Rusnak horse all the way. I feel like your attacking midfielder has to be your best player, and with RSL that was often the case with how spectacular Javier Morales was in that role. Though the formation has changed, the necessity to have a sharp and talented player in the vital transition between midfield and forwards it perhaps even greater than before. Albert has to be the teams’ best player, and I expect that his performance and goal/assist numbers will support that.
I could probably copy and paste what Ryan said above me and be perfectly fine. Rusnak is good. He’s really really good, and with solidified chemistry, more games in Petke’s system, and overall maturity he is only going to continue to get better. In the latter part of last years season he really began to catch the eyes of folks throughout MLS, and I expect the upcoming year to be no different. I am particularly excited to see how he interacts with the quick, high pushing full-back style of play that Petke wants to focus on this year.
Not only will Rusnak be Real Salt Lake’s player of the year, but I believe he will give the MLS’s MVP award a run for it’s money. He’s by far the most dynamic player on the 2018 squad, and his vision on the field and awareness of the opposing teams positioning are those of a seasoned veteran beyond his years. I have no problem in saying that his goals could hit double digits and his assists could crown him the 2018 assist king. He seems to be everywhere on the field, and creates a ton of space on and off the ball. I can’t remember ever seeing him complain, or stop short of giving every bit of energy he has to every game.
I guess here at Soapbox we’re all aboard the Rusnak train. I didn’t give him the Golden Boot, however I think taking a look at RSL’s roster he’s perfectly set up to have an outstanding season. A very attack minded midfielder, likely to get a lot of assists (and plenty of goals on top of that) I think fans and people around the league will be impressed by his creativity this season. Rusnak has a knack for finding that perfect pass or the most beautifully placed free kick. With the full preseason under Mike Petke, Rusnak is going to know his job and get it done.
Well while the Rusnak Train is pulling out of the station, the Glad-mobile is revving itself up to 88mph and looks to take us back to the years when RSL had a solid back line leader. While the focus has been on the overhauled front line of Real Salt Lake, many sweeping changes are happening at the back and I pick Justen not only to be the leader but to stand out over the season. We’ve proved we can score goals, this season we’re going to have to prove we can defend and my pick is based on that. Rusnak needs to take a small step to reach Elite, Glad needs a little more of a leap but it’s one he could make and should he, it will be enough to make him the RSL MVP in 2018.
I’m taking a different approach to my player of the year choice. Not that I don’t think Rusnak is going to have an outstanding year, but I feel like Kyle’s still got a lot of gas left in the tank, and he has plenty of leadership and responsibility on his shoulders with all these young players coming up through the ranks. Just like he’s been for many years, I see him being the glue that holds the team together out on the field, and is the liaison between the defense and the attack. Not to mention he had four goals last season, and with his time in MLS coming to a close within the next couple years, maybe we’ll see him let loose with more of those infamous 35-yard rockets that’ll find the back of the net.
Savarino is coming off a 6 goal, 5 assist season where he only played 22 games. Recovering from his surgery he finished preseason strong. The key to his successful season will come from the link up play with Plata and Rusnak. Savarino is apart of the South American takeover in MLS. I expect to see many outside the box curlers into the top corners of the goal. Double digit assists and double digit goals out of 21 year old Venezuelan this season to run away with RSL player of the year award.
Albert Rusnak took six games to score his first goal in MLS and took about half the season to fully acclimate. At that point, he just picked up steam. Think about that for a minute. Rusnak didn’t really get going until half way through the season and still ended up with seven goals and 14 assists. Rusnak will be RSL’s MVP in 2018 and, if he can stay healthy, could very well be in the MLS MVP conversation.