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2018 Player Profiles: Albert Rusnak

The young Slovakian midfielder proved to be an integral part of Real Salt Lake in his second season with the club

After signing with Real Salt Lake in 2017, it quickly became apparent that Albert Rusnak proved to be an essential part of the team and heir to Javier Morales. The following year showed an evolution of Rusnak’s role within the team and proved that he is perhaps the most important player for the success of the team.

2018 saw a massive jump in his minutes, from 2579 (2017) to 2592 (2018), resulting in 13 more minutes in the regular season. That does not include his playoff time. His stats for each season are quite similar; same number of starts, nearly the same number of minutes played, one more game played in 2018 over the previous year but the biggest difference is the shift in goals and assists. In 2017, Albert netted 7 goals and provided 14 assists. In 2018 the goals jumped up to 10 and the assists fell to 7. I don’t think there’s any thing to worry about with his goal scoring or assists. The entire attack improved in 2018, even without a true center forward. There were also more assists from other players this past season over the prior year. That is good improvement for the team as a whole. 2018 was the second highest season in RSL history for goals scored (55) and that improvement saw more goals from more players than years prior.

You can’t truly recount Rusnak’s 2018 without discussing the addition of Damir Kreilach. The Croatian midfielder absolutely crushed it and is, perhaps, the only other player as crucial to the team as Rusnak. Kreilach played all over the pitch, from defensive midfield to the number 10 spot in Albert’s absence, to a false 9 role in the absence of any true center forward. The relationship between Damir and Albert grew as the year progressed, helped the team massively, and gave us such stunners as this:

The year was also marked by some controversy. Rusnak very publicly hinted at contract issues and said he was open to going back to Europe in future. As a European, this statement may seem innocuous, but when a player misses a flight trying to force a contract agreement through, it points to some unrest. Those issues were ultimately solved, but it did cause a sense of unrest around the team.

With the 2019 MLS season fast approaching, expectations remain about the same for Rusnak. He should be the team’s playmaker. It would be interesting to see him on the wing, which is where he often plays for his national team. There’s no doubt that Albert will remain the cornerstone of the attack in 2019.