Winner: Corey Baird
His cross in for Damir Kreilach’s goal was magnificent, and that’s a big part of the recognition here, but I also saw some good work-rate from the sophomore MLS player. He’s very much been the player to supplant Sam Johnson in the lineup in recent weeks, and there have been plenty of questions around that. But he showed today — and last week — that he brings a great deal of value.
Loser: Albert Rusnak
I don’t know what got into Albert Rusnak, but his normally safe possession play was a shadow of what we saw even last week. Maybe it was the turf, maybe it was something else (distraction? a new car to double-park? I dunno), but he had an off-game, and multiple times, he very nearly cost us.
Winner: Justen Glad
After being dropped last match for Marcelo Silva, Glad stepped right back into his starting spot and performed at a high level. That’s a difficult task for young players, and we saw last year that it impacted Glad negatively after he was dropped just before the playoffs started.
This time? He showed exactly why he should be starting. That’s a great response.
Winner: Freddy Juarez
It would have been easy to fold after Mike Petke was fired.
It would have been easy to fold when Mike Petke filed a lawsuit against the club.
It would have been easy to fold once Craig Waibel was unceremoniously fired.
Freddy Juarez has somehow, someway kept this team together. Certainly the veteran leadership in the locker room deserves credit, too, but third place in the West is very good.
It’s awesome for the players. After everything that’s gone on this year, they deserve a home game. — Freddy Juarez post-match
Some Freddy Juarez quick stats:
- 7 of 13 matches as interim coach have been wins
- 4 of 13 matches were losses. That’s as many as the club lost in the first six games of the season.
- 23 points from 13 games is 1.77 points per game. Prior to his appointment, RSL was on 1.43 points per game.
So not only did Juarez keep his side moving despite the surrounding chaos, but he improved on what came before. Does this mean he’s the coach for the future? I don’t know, and I don’t know when we’ll find out. But I think it’s safe to say that he’s performed above my expectations.
We waited quite a long time to see a substitute — it was around the 80th minute that we got our first one. That’s on average not enough time to influence a game, either positively or negatively, and we were under the gun for some time. This also falls to Freddy Juarez, of course — and I think it’s something that is a bit nontraditional about his coaching style. Does it work? I don’t know. I mean, I guess the results are there. It might also be that he’s not entirely comfortable with his bench options. Or it could be that he’s philosophically a late-sub guy. I don’t know.
Loser: Sam Johnson
I know there was some talk of holding back Johnson from this match to protect him from potential injury on turf, and maybe that was it. But we’ve seen him more or less removed from this Juarez-led side. He’s scored just one goal since the Gold Cup break. Is there something going on here we don’t know about? Whatever’s going on, I certainly think we saw today our most probable lineup in the playoffs.
Winner: Nick Rimando
One more home match. Rather, at least one more home match.
I’m just glad we’ll get a little more time to appreciate the best goalkeeper to wear a Real Salt Lake shirt.
Winner: Tony Beltran
As the color commentator on the local broadcast, Tony Beltran was the image of perfection. His commentary was insightful, he enunciated his words, and he brought a nice presence to the broadcast. There’s no surprise in the fact that he’s good at this, but it was sure nice to see.