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The Salt: Lucky RSL assists skilled RSL; life without Sam Johnson

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After a big win, I’m here to spoil the party.

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

Hello!

It was quite a good win from Real Salt Lake on Saturday, don’t you think? Yeah, I’d say so, myself. Of course, I wouldn’t describe it as perfect — not with the first controversial decision.

Damir Kreilach, master of luck

Maybe I shouldn’t trouble myself with it, but it feels a bit like we got away with one when Damir Kreilach wasn’t sent off by Liviu Petrescu. His tackle early in the match — the one that saw a video-assisted review — was particularly nasty. He raked his cleats down Kacper Przybylko’s ankle, and a red card wouldn’t have been surprising. In fact, I’d say a not-red-card was surprising, but such is the way in MLS sometimes.

It was Kreilach’s only foul of the match, so perhaps the decision wasn’t as bad as I’m thinking, but you all know that if we’d been on the other end of that tackle we’d be braying for blood.

Do I feel dirty about the win? No, of course not. We’ve had decisions not go our way enough times that the opposite is simply a nice change. It may showcase a broader problem with referees, but I think it actually showcases a broader problem with supporters. Oh well.

The rest of the match

OK, so I know I described the match as not perfect, but it’s sure hard to look at the rest of the match with those glasses. After all, we were not only good, but we were extremely good throughout. Extremely! I hate superlatives, so you know what that must mean. (That’s obviously not true. Call me on it.)

The goals? Those were good. I enjoyed those quite a bit. It seemed a bit like every good opportunity we had in front of us, we took. I don’t even really remember any opportunities that went left unscored. I’m probably wrong about that, so let’s go to the stats.

We took 14 shots, 8 of which were on target. Three remaining shots were blocked, and a further three were off target. That’s actually a pretty impressive rate, and it contributed to the good feelings around the match.

But you know what’s weird? Our plays started deep. And not just a little deep. Aaron Herrera’s assist on Jefferson Savarino’s first goal? That was at the base of the middle third — pretty far back, really. That’s a superb pass to get there, but let’s keep watching before we go into that rabbit hole.

The other goals? I actually think those come from us somehow capitalizing on defensive errors. It’s been a long while since we’ve seen that regularly — and likely never three times in a match against a very good team — but man alive, we did it this time. This was like a vintage Joe Nasco performance for Colorado in terms of Salt Lake impact. (Remember that one? It was great. Chris Schuler had a brace.)

How do you account for that? How do you account for the fact that our most dangerous moments came in direct opposition? I think this is the team that Mike Petke is trying to build. When he came back from his coaching training recently, he talked about how he thought maybe the team could express more of their identity, and that was something he wanted to focus on. I think this is that coming around. It’s really quite something.

Now, does this mean we’ll be great the rest of the year? Of course not. There’s still plenty to prove. Four goals on the best team in the East — that team being a shadow of the best team in the West — is something, but in the end, it should be a blip on the scale. Something positive, but not something game-changing. It should very much be overshadowed. So yeah, I liked this match a lot, but I’m holding on to hope that it’s not something I’ll be dwelling on come season’s end.

Sam Johnson?

We’re without Sam Johnson for most of the remaining season, and that’s a little scary. He’s been very, very good when he starts, and he very much showed what his impact on this team can be.

So it’s back to Damir Kreilach up top again, and while that’s great in a pinch, I think we get more out of the master in other positions — chiefly, attacking midfield.

Without Sam Johnson, we lack a lethal, consistently dangerous goalscoring threat. Maybe we’ll be just fine without him — here’s hoping, right? — but it’ll have to come as a surprise.

The big question I’d have is how this affects us moving forward from a roster construction perspective. The transfer window is open, and if we wanted to bring somebody in on loan to execute at forward, maybe we should. Or maybe we shouldn’t, for fear that it could disrupt our homegrown options.

I don’t really know here. What do you think?

Off-topic

So, how about Super Mario Maker 2, huh?! It’s a great game, as was widely expected. I still have yet to make my own level, but you can bet that once I do, I’ll be making the lot of you play it.

In addition to that, I’ve been playing Trials of Mana, a Super Nintendo RPG sequel to Secret of Mana that didn’t see release in the U.S. for 24 years. That’s a pretty long time, and while the game doesn’t hold up in some aspects — hello, menus — in other ways, it does quite well. You may have played it as Seiken Densetsu 3 if you were into translated ROMs back in the day.

Other than that, I’m just over here getting hyped for Star Trek: Picard. Love that guy.