Here are six winners and two losers from RSL’s huge win.
Winner: The golden boot race
The last time Real Salt Lake had a player with double-digit goals? 2014, when Joao Plata scored 13. But the last time they had two players in double digits? That’s 2011, when Alvaro Saborio and Fabian Espindola had 11 and 10, respectively.
It’s looking likely that Damir Kreilach and Albert Rusnak will each notch more, and that’s really something. This is a tandem that can do amazing things, and if you’d told me that would be the case at the start of the season, I would have been even more excited.
Winner: Damir Kreilach and his first RSL hat trick
I might be wrong about this, so it’s not in the heading here, but I actually think that Damir Kreilach got his first-ever hat trick. That, to me, is a real sign that we’ve got the right player. He’s a spectacular player, and even if he’s not a full-time forward, he’s done so well at filling specific parts of that role that I just have to take my hat off to him — but also to Mike Petke.
Winner: Mike Petke
See, I had my doubts about Kreilach as a forward, even if I know that he can get on the end of some good shots from the midfield. His late runs are just really good, and his finishing is surprisingly excellent. But a forward? I didn’t picture him being the sort of player that really unifies the attack like that, but he is. That’s some excellent maneuvering.
Loser: RSL’s early defending
After less than a minute of play, Real Salt Lake was down a goal. That’s not exactly great stuff from our team; when Jonathan dos Santos scored, I thought it reflected pretty poorly on our defensive line. They recovered well, but for the first 15 minutes, I was worried.
Winner: Sunny and Kyle Beckerman as a tandem
Hey, so, we are going to ignore Sunny and Kyle Beckerman as a midfield tandem a little bit as we talk about this game, and that’s a shame. It’s also sort of inevitable, given the magnitude of victory and just how good our attack looked. But I’d still like to take a minute and recognize that they were dominant in a match where we needed it, with the Galaxy struggling to really build anything of note. Sure, that’s on them, too, but Beckerman looked renewed, and Sunny looked like the heir apparent to Beckerman’s throne. We’re in a good place right now.
Winner: Aaron Herrera
Every time I see him play, I’m more impressed. Aaron Herrera, spelling at left back but naturally right footed, has been a tremendous asset in the team’s good run of form. At one point, his defensive sprint saved a likely goal, and those are the things we sometimes forget about after a huge win. But with the match hanging in the balance, he put in the effort. Also, I forgot just how fast he is. He’s very fast.
Winner: RSL fans
Is this like Time naming “you” the person of the year in 2006? Maybe. This was the most excited, fun crowd I’ve seen at Rio Tinto in a long time. We can all get a little angst-ridden there, and having a truly fun match without much controversy was a perfect way to avoid that. It really was cathartic. This is also the first time I’ve seen the wave at a soccer game and thought it was fantastic: Up 6-2, everyone was just having the time of their lives.
Loser: The duck, and also Zlatan Ibrahimovic
I’m sorry, duck. You were fun, and I enjoyed you, but you really should have scored a goal.
Oh, also, Zlatan didn’t score, and he bled all over his shirt. I still don’t know what happened there.
On that note, it was always going to be hard for us to collectively move past the duck as a talking point, but a 6-2 win is sure one way to do it. It truly was a Shawshank Redemption.