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The Salt: Draws, subs and bad beards

MLS: Colorado Rapids at Real Salt Lake Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports


It’s a nice day, isn’t it? It’s down to 76 degrees this morning, which is almost — almost! — enough to make me forget about Saturday’s travesty.

In my last column, I ranted about video review. I want you to know I’m not going to do that today. Yes, they called a penalty after video review, and yes, it wasn’t nearly as clear-cut as some of the penalties or fouls that haven’t been called in our favor, but you know what, you can’t ask for video review and then get upset when referees start using it more. Or, well, you can, but not for just that one specific reason.

Moving on, then.

Aaron Herrera

OK, so this was interesting: Aaron Herrera, full back, got his first start. I actually think he did pretty well, all things being equal. I still don’t know what exactly got him the start ahead of Danilo Acosta, but sometimes, you have to give young players opportunities. If he earned it, he earned it. That’s all that really matters, right?

But here’s the thing. I think it’s fine that he played. I think he did well individually. But I tend to lean on the “fewer changes” side of things, and we already had one change forced into our backline with Marcelo Silva’s absence, and maybe we should have left it that way with Danilo Acosta starting.

Here’s the other thing about this. Our system demands — demands! — players in wide positions that are willing to commit defensively. Joao Plata is not one of those players, and with him in front of Herrera, he had to do a bit of double duty. It didn’t help our cause.

Alfredo Ortuño

I still just don’t get this. Alfredo Ortuño is not a Real Salt Lake player. Not really. I’ve seen rumors that an announcement in Spain is set to happen today. I don’t really want to worry about what we got wrong with the signing. Instead, I think it’s interesting that this is happening to MLS teams across the league. We’ve seen it in Toronto and Seattle, as examples. They’ve signed players — Ager Aketxe and Magnus Wolff Eikrem, respectively — in the offseason, and now they’re on their way out the door.

I’m not terribly interested in the specifics of our case (just kidding, I am, but not in the context of what I’m saying here). Rather, I’m curious why so many MLS teams are getting mid-tier European signings wrong. Is this symptomatic of something? Is the league at a point where we can expect this to happen repeatedly?

Just imagine if we had a true forward on our roster to play on Saturday. Someone who could hold the ball up a bit while we were utterly terrible in the midfield. I’d like that.

Substitution patterns

Once RSL lost control of the game, we didn’t do anything to get it back. Colorado made an adjustment to make their game effective, bringing on Enzo Martinez (we’ll talk about him in a minute.) We waited until it was truly gone to bring on Sebastian Saucedo, which didn’t truly pan out. We needed something in the midfield, and we needed to give back some of the bite that Colorado was dishing out. We waited until the 85th minute to bring on Sunny.

It simply wasn’t great soccer from us, and our substitution patterns matched that. Fair play to Colorado.

Enzo Martinez, MLS player

Remember when Enzo Martinez was a Real Salt Lake player? If you don’t, I forgive you. He didn’t play. Ever. Not once. He was on our roster for two years, and he didn’t get an appearance in even an Open Cup game. It’s one of the failings of the Jason Kreis way, I think. He didn’t love to give players chances if they didn’t earn them.

But while that was a failing, it was also his biggest strength. Did Martinez deserve to play? I don’t know. Maybe? But it’s sure interesting to see him in MLS. He’s not the most nuanced player, but he worked his tail off.

At any rate, Enzo, we probably need to talk about that beard. I’ve got just the man for you to talk to.

Vulture Festival Presented By AT&T - Milk Studios, Day 2 Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images for Vulture Festival

Other things

We don’t always have to talk about soccer. Here’s some of what I’ve been enjoying in media.

Comics: I just started reading The Immortal Hulk, which released recently. I have a pretty big backlog of comics to get through right now, so it’s a good thing tomorrow’s a holiday, and I’m taking today off.

Books (Fiction): Ursula K. LeGuin, The Left Hand of Darkness. I’ll be honest. I know this book is important, but it’s been hard to get through the opening 100 pages. I’ll keep going.

Television: Ghosted. I somehow missed this when it aired, but it’s an inane sci-fi buddy cop TV series. I like it, I think?

Board Games: I played a game of Carcassonne last night. I really like that game. (I lost badly to my wife.)

Video Games: Golf Story on the Nintendo Switch. It’s a fun little RPG with actual* golfing and a trope-filled story. I think that’s on purpose.

Things not mentioned

  • Tim Howard’s stupid celebration after the match
  • How much I hate weather delays
  • How I kind of think this game was a throw-away after the delay
  • Why isn’t Damir Kreilach starting at the 9??!?!?!
  • Who moves in the summer, and who moves after the season?

Next week on The Salt: Can RSL manage a second road win on the season against the actual worst team in MLS? Can RSL make the playoffs?! Will we still have Ortuño on the books?!?! WHY IS EVERYONE INJURED!!!