Here we are, halfway through the season. Given that it has been an up and down ride for the first 17 games, I thought it would be interesting to look at player performances thus far according to RSL Soapbox Player Ratings to this point. Frankly, I surprised myself with how some of these average scores turned out. Some players have done better overall than I thought while others have struggled.
Before I dig in, there are a few things you should understand.
First, given that Real Salt Lake has played 17 games thus far, I only included those that have played eight games or more, roughly half of the games through the Columbus game. This leaves out a few players like Sunny, Nick Besler, Pablo Ruiz, Adam Henley, and um... Alfredo Ortuño, who have not featured as often but have had an impact on games none the less.
Second, I get a decent amount of comments from readers disagreeing with my player ratings almost every game. First of all, thanks for reading and commenting. Disagreements are to be expected since everyone has their own perspective of the game and of individual performances. But I will say this: I have pretty strict criteria for how I give player ratings and I try my best to be consistent in how I rate players regardless of the scoreline, regardless of what they did the game prior. and regardless of what their teammates did. In other words, I make an honest attempt at removing my bias or anyone else’s and award truly individual player ratings.
Third, when I give ratings every game, every player starts at a “5” and works their way up or down as the game goes on based on how they affected the game. I probably don’t get it right all the time, but that’s how I do it.
Fourth, I think we can all agree that so far this season, there have been some good games and some not-so-good games. Accordingly, the margin between players’ ratings was pretty small. So don’t get too caught up in the order. I view this as an approximation of who is showing well so far in 2018, not an exact science.
Before reading further, ask yourself what players you think have done the best so far this year? What players have under performed?
According to player ratings, things shook out as follows:
13 - Luis Silva. SIlva has not had a poor season, so this was one of my biggest surprises. Upon further reflection, however, he has had a just above average season which is about where he ended up on the roster.
12 - Jefferson Savarino. Most of us thought Savarino was going to hit the ground running this year. He came onto the scene in 2017 and turned some heads. Either teams have figured him out a bit more this year, or he has yet to find his groove.
11 - Nick Rimando. Rimando has not had a poor season either, but RSL’s goal differential is not good. RSL is tied for second worst in the league behind Orlando City. So while it’s not all Rimando’s fault, clearly it’s not as good as it should be. He is still invaluable as long as he can keep playing because he does manage to make big saves in the right moments. However, I would argue he hasn’t made as many of those big saves in 2018 as he has over the past handful of seasons.
11- Justen Glad. Glad and Rimando ended up with the exact same average score over 17 games. Glad is an interesting case because I think he is one of RSL’s most promising young players. He had a rough start to the season, but seems to be rounding out into form over the past handful of games.
9 - Brooks Lennon. Lennon would probably be higher if he was playing his natural position. Much to his credit, he has filled in admirably in the back and continues to improve at the position. He’s proving his versatility.
9 - Kyle Beckerman. Beckerman and Lennon ended up with the same score as well. Beckerman does not cover the ground he once did and has probably lost a bit of speed, but let me be clear - he’s an American hero and he more than anyone turned RSL around about 10 years ago. But we’re not talking 10 years ago, we’re talking 2018. He’s had some excellent games and a bunch of decent or average games. So this is where he ended up.
7 - Danny Acosta. Acosta had a horrible first game and was riding the bench for a good long while. Now that he is back in the starting lineup, he has really helped RSL be more solid defensively. Not to say he hasn’t made a few mistakes along the way, but his future is getting brighter all the time.
6 - Damir Kreilach. I might be higher on Kreilach on most, but believe it or not, I expected him to end up higher than 6th. He has provided some goals and some skill on the ball that will only get better and more effective as time goes on. He didn’t have a preseason, mind you. So he’s done well for himself.
5 - Marcelo Silva - Getting Silva back from injury provided the edge RSL needed in back. He is gritty and smart, a nice combination to have at center back.
4 - Bofo Saucedo - The Utah kid is having a breakout season. He has one goal to his name so far, but he also has three assists. By and large he is proving he deserves to be on the field with his threatening attacking play.
3 - Joao Plata - Plata has come of the bench a decent amount in 2018, but as a starter or as a reserve player he consistently provides RSL with a unique attacking option. He is crafty and defenders are forced to pay him a lot of attention. He has three goals and an assist in just 638 minutes.
2 - Corey Baird. Who of us expected Baird to make the contribution he has thus far? With four goals, two assists, and an unbelievable engine, this kid made the most of his opportunities.
1 - Albert Rusnak. It is hard to argue that Rusnak is not RSL’s best player. He has three goals and four assists so far. He is the catalyst for the offense. His touch and ball control are second to none in MLS. While I expected him to be filling the stat sheet more at this point, he is still having a nice year. RSL found a gem in this one.
So there you have it. Make a comment and let me know where I got it right or wrong so far. If I got it wrong, what’s your order?