Real Salt Lake, through 2018, has been one of the more interesting teams in MLS.
We’ve gone from bad to OK to fantastic to bad, and through the year, we’ve circulated through all of those options. Perhaps chief among our flaws is the lack of an out-and-out goalscorer.
The team’s woes, though, are our gain. If we had a Josef Martinez figure, we wouldn’t be able to speculate about who will end up as our leading goalscorer. We don’t, though, so let’s talk.
Albert Rusnak (8g, 6a)
Well, would you look at that? Albert Rusnak has gone through a slightly dry spell — six games without a goal — and scored three in two games. As a result, he’s almost in the lead now, and in the event of a tiebreaker — assists — he’d get the boot.
One lingering question remains: Can Joao Plata pick up his game enough to zip past him? I bet there’s a bonus involved if they do, so this race could actually get really exciting.
Joao Plata (8g, 5a)
Until July 14, Plata was pretty much out of the running for the golden boot. He’d scored just three goals in the first four months of the season, found himself dropped, and suffered a few untimely injuries. He’s very much back in the running now, and if he ends up in double digits, it’ll be his best output since 2014 — but five more goals and he’d equal that. This could be a lot of fun.
Damir Kreilach (7g, 6a)
I know somebody with a bigger name will probably be handed MLS’s Newcomer of the Year award, but Kreilach has had a tremendous impact on Real Salt Lake since joining the club. He’s only sat out one game, and he has two substitute appearances. Every other game, he’s started. We’ve played him at defensive midfield, attacking midfield, and forward. It’s clear that he’s being targeted as an important player for this club in the long term, and he’s started that relationship off very well.
Can he get past Rusnak and Plata? There’s a certain irony in that they’re both more likely to score if Kreilach is playing well, so I don’t think it’ll happen — but he’s close enough that it will be a tight race all the same.
The Dark Horse
Corey Baird (6g, 4a)
Corey Baird is currently sitting with six goals after a lengthy period without one, and if he gets hot at the right time, he could score another six more. I don’t think it’s terribly likely, but that’s not why you have dark horse candidates, right? Baird is certainly a real surprise on this team, and his goal output now has been fantastic.
Still, you’d be wrong to sleep on him.
Jefferson Savarino (5g, 8a)
I really don’t think Savarino has much of a chance here. He’s definitely the favorite in our assists race, but he’s been a little quiet on the goalscoring front this year. But for his tremendous effort against Colorado, he’d be out of the running. I don’t think he’s a dark horse, but I do think he deserves recognition.
Luis Silva (5g, 0a)
So, I don’t really know what happened to Luis Silva. He was playing well, scoring goals, and doing what he needed to do, and he succumbed to the injury demons. He could end up reaching last year’s total of seven goals, but I don’t think he’s going to be getting regular minutes. He’s going to need to score off the bench.