Real Salt Lake’s 3-1 loss to V-Varen Nagasaki, a second-division Japanese side, seems, on the face of it, to be a bit problematic.
That said, it’s still early in preseason, and there’s plenty of time for this team to improve before the season starts. Oh, and Vancouver Whitecaps lost to Iwaki FC, the team we beat on Friday. Silver linings, right?
Here are two winners and three losers from the match.
Winner: Justen Glad
Alright, hear me out here. Justen Glad had a poor showing against Iwaki FC. It was enough that I would have called him one of the losers of that match, had I written this column. (I don’t mean to call him a ‘loser’ outright. I like him a lot, and I think he’s a great kid. I’ll stop now.) But in seeing this match, which didn’t feature him at all, it brought to light that all of our center backs are not in a good spot right now collectively. Sure, Glad’s flub against Iwaki FC was bad, but there were several bad flubs in this one, too.
Loser: Albert Rusnak
So, here’s the thing. I don’t blame Rusnak for this. That said, I don’t think he had a great game. Of course, it’s terribly difficult to have a good game when you’re not being fed the ball, and as a creative player, he needs to hold the ball sometimes. He simply didn’t much, and that made for a tough match.
Winner: Julian Vazquez
Um, hello. WOW. Julian Vazquez hit an absolute screamer of a shot from outside the box to put us within a goal of drawing things level. I know he’s young and just getting his feet under him at a professional level, but my word — let’s not forget that he’s capable of such things. Here’s hoping we get to see plenty of that this year for Real Monarchs and, if things go well enough, RSL.
Loser: Andrew Putna
Ah, I hate to bring this up, but I don’t think Andrew Putna had particularly good games. He made a few good saves, but he looked easily put off his game, and that made for a difficult match at the back. There seemed to be a broader lack of confidence going on defensively, and I’m very curious about that. I’d love to understand the root cause here, but I also know there’s very little chance of that. Onward and upward, I guess.
Loser: Pablo Ruiz
At just 20 years old, Pablo Ruiz has a lot ahead of him. Sometimes, we get to see glimpses of that. His long passes are pinpoint; his free kicks are, at times, immaculate. Unfortunately, there are plenty of times where he just doesn’t look ready — and I know it’s preseason, so I don’t want to take this to any real conclusions about his role in the team. But I do know that if I see another Ruiz long ball when we have an attacking midfielder in front of him waiting for the ball, my eyeballs might just roll out of my head.