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2019 RSL Post-Season Awards

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We are comparing our 2019 preseason predictions to the end of season awards.

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

It’s easy to make predictions, anyone can do it, but it takes a lot of guts to go back later and see just how great your predictions were. We here at the Soapbox aren’t afraid. We suck at foreseeing the future as much as any other talking head at a major sports news outlet and we aren’t afraid to admit it.

All the way back on February 28th we published an article titled RSL Soapbox’s 2019 Season Predictions where we had our staff pick who they thought would take top prize in a variety of statistical categories for RSL.

The categories are as follows:

  • Team MVP
  • Golden Boot
  • Silver Assist
  • Defender of the Year
  • Most Minutes Played
  • New Comer of the Year
  • Season Points Total
  • Whether RSL would make the playoffs
  • What Silverware RSL would take home

True to our word, here are our preseason predictions and the corresponding 2019 results.

Team MVP

Our Prediction: Albert Rusnák

Actual Winner: Everton Luiz

Albert was the safe and obvious choice at the beginning of the year. He’s a DP, in the most critical role on the field and is the highest paid player in RSL history. Can you blame us? Besides, no one really knew what we had with Everton Luiz. He had just arrived on loan from the Serie A side SPAL as a TAM player.

In his first season he featured in 27 matches, starting 24 of them and leading the team in tackles for large swathes of the year. If it weren’t for a 7 match absence due to injury he could have had not just a great year, but a banner year. Everton finished 1st on the team in tackles with a whopping 72. That is 9 tackles ahead of 2nd place on far less minutes played.

I don’ t think there is a single RSL fan who is upset that his loan option has supposedly been exercised and we will see him with RSL in 2020, even if he will miss the first game due to red card suspension.

MLS: MLS Cup Conference Semifinals-Real Salt Lake at Seattle Sounders FC Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Golden Boot

Our Prediction: Sam Johnson

Actual Winner: Albert Rusnák

Although he missed out on being the most valuable player, Albert certainly made his mark on the score sheet by leading the team with 10 goals. This is the 2nd time in 3 years that Albert has taken home the Golden Boot with him also winning it in his debut 2017 season with the same goal tally of 10. He is only the 4th player in club history to win it more than once.

Sam Johnson did in fact finish in 2nd place with 9 goals, just behind Rusnák so we weren’t way off base. Not bad considering he played considerably less minutes and that none of Sam’s goals were PK’s whereas 4 of Albert’s 10 goals were from the spot. Either way, we long for the days when our Golden Boot winner was in the high teens in goals scored.

MLS: Philadelphia Union at Real Salt Lake Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

Silver Assist

Our Prediction: Albert Rusnák

Actual Winner: Kyle Beckerman

Who would’ve thought that the captain would finish the season at the top of the assists table? Not us obviously. To be fair, it finished in a 4 way tie with Savarino, Rusnák and Kreilach. However, Kyle did it in less minutes than the other three and had as many game winning assists as the other three players combined (3). What was the most surprising to us is that although Albert also finished with 5 assists, not a single one was a game winning assist. That is a really interesting factoid for someone who’s job is to create opportunities for others.

Not sure what to make of that but certainly not what we were accustomed to seeing from that position before Albert joined RSL.

MLS: Sporting Kansas City at Real Salt Lake Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

Defender of the Year

Our Prediction: Aaron Herrera

Actual Winner: Aaron Herrera

Hey, we got one right! See, you can trust us! Aaron Herrera becomes the 3rd home grown player in a row to win this award, joining Brooks Lennon from 2018 and Justen Glad from 2016 & 2017. It appears that Real Salt Lake has quite the pipeline established and is pumping out solid defenders from the academy.

Aaron was an extremely stable presence on the RSL backline all year starting in 31 games and playing more minutes than anyone else on the roster at 2,768 minutes. Aaron finished in 1st on the team in interceptions with 57, and 2nd on the team in assists with 4. Not to mention what could have been an all-time great RSL goal against Portland in the playoffs when he stuck this beauty.

Minutes Played

Our Prediction: Nick Rimando

Actual Winner: Aaron Herrera

We won’t belabor the point because we already made it above but Aaron Herrera was vital to this team’s success and it showed by his 2,768 minutes played. He was often tasked with defending the very best attackers in MLS, guys who make 50x his salary and he did so capably. He needs a long term contract asap, and for far more than his current $81k.

MLS: Real Salt Lake at New England Revolution Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Newcomer of the Year

Our Prediction: Sam Johnson

Actual Winner: Everton Luiz

How do you not give it to the newcomer who also happened to win the Most Valuable Player award. I still stand by the fact that Sam could have won it had he seen more minutes. The dude scored 9 goals in only 12 shots on target, that is insane. But with rumors of poor behavior or struggles to get along with teammates maybe there was more going on there than just the coaches not rating him.

Everton is the future for the defensive side of our midfield and we hope that he becomes a staple in the midfield for years to come!

MLS: Minnesota United FC at Real Salt Lake Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

Season Points Total

Our Prediction: Median of 50 with a low of 46 and high of 54.

Actual Points Total: 53

I think we can count this as a win for the Soapbox. Our team predicted on average that RSL would finish with 50 points, we were only 3 points off. Not bad considering that not too may people would have pegged this team to finish 3rd in the west when the season started.

Our lowest prediction by an editor was 46 (Wirtjo Leonard) and our highest prediction was 54 points (yours truly, Miles Dunn). We had one contributor who went full Nostradamus and predicted 53 points on the season, congrats Ryan Sanders! He should probably hit up Wendover one of these days.

Playoff Berth

Our Prediction: 66% said yes, 34% said no

Actual Result: We made the playoffs!

Not much to say here, other than to throw a little shade at Matt Montgomery and Wirtjo Leonard, our two resident pessimists who predicted we’d miss the playoffs. Frankly, I think had Petke stuck around the full season they probably would have been right so don’t fault them too much.

Who could’ve predicted a cat, a Liga MX team, and one 4-letter slur would coalesce in the way they did to alter our season so drastically?

Silverware Won

Our prediction: The Rocky Mountain Cup

Actual Result: The Rocky Mountain Cup

The vast majority picked us to win the Rocky Mountain Cup. Only one contributor was so audacious to include any other silverware beyond that. I predicted we’d win the Open Cup. I thought we had a deep enough lineup to really push for it but yeah, I suck.

Bonus Awards

Humanitarian Award

Kyle Beckerman for all the work he has done on Native American reservations to bring electricity to the Navajo people. He has been doing some really awesome work in the community and this is the second year in a row he has won the award.

Coach of the Year

Normally this wouldn’t be a thing but hey, we had two coaches. This one goes to Freddy Juarez. To step in as an interim and drive this team not only into the playoff picture but all the way up to 3rd in the west was a big accomplishment. On top of that, his squad hosted and won their first home playoff game since 2013, Jason Kreis’s last year at the helm. Let that sink in.

Freddy performed admirably despite the chaos surrounding the front office, the loss of Petke and Waibel, and pending lawsuits against the club. Whatever happens next year the fans should be grateful for the level at which the team performed under Juarez’s direction.

That’s all folks, we can’t wait to see what the offseason brings and we look forward to dusting off the crystal ball next February to predict what we hope will be an exciting 2020 season. For more info on RSL’s season awards you can check them out here.