Well, we’ve done it. We’ve really done it. We managed to win a match, and we did it by being held in the capable, loving arms of Damir Kreilach.
Here are your winner and losers.
Winner: Aaron Herrera
It is the norm by now that Aaron Herrera goes in the winners column, and so it was again tonight. He’s just an extremely good player. He’ll probably leave us some day for Europe, and if it’s safe to do so, we should all send him off at the airport.
Also — I think it’s worth pointing out that Herrera has been good for a while, but also that he went through the college system after leaving the Real Salt Lake academy. I don’t know what it means, exactly, but it’s an interesting story in American soccer.
Winner: Damir Kreilach
I tweeted this earlier, but in 2020, RSL only wins when Damir Kreilach scores, so it is extremely fortunate for us that he scored tonight, because a win was very important.
The wild thing about this is that Kreilach had six or seven good chances, and he only scored one, and it was probably the most difficult one from a technical perspective. (I mean, maybe it wasn’t. I’m not a professional soccer player. Yet.)
In looking at the stats, Kreilach actually took eight shots. It was a very strange match. I still do not understand why any team leaves him unmarked on set pieces. It is actually hilarious at this point.
Winner: Pablo Ruiz
Call it a bit of normalcy. Pablo Ruiz is once again in the winner columns, and he’s an early contender for player of the year. He’s just so good. I’m a huge fan of his, and I know he will leave some day. I am perpetually bracing myself for that moment now. His rise to extreme goodness is the best thing to have happened in 2020. (Sure, it’s been a very bad year. But he’s so good.)
He also had the assist on RSL’s second goal, and I’m quite happy about that.
Winner/Loser: Douglas Martinez
Douglas Martinez scored his first-ever MLS goal (because we’re all trying to forget MLS is Back, I guess) and it was a very nice one. Sure, it was facilitated by some bad goalkeeping, but you don’t score on shots you don’t take (I mean, except for own goals, but ... too soon?)
So chalk him up as a winner for this one because of that contribution and his ability to stay involved in play. Putting him in the loser column is a second-half injury that forced him out of the game. He didn’t look 100 percent after the match. It’s unfortunate, but at least we get to rest for ... a day.
Loser: Marcelo Silva
An early yellow card and “light cramping” saw Marcelo Silva substituted around the two-thirds point of the match. His ability to earn cards early in the match is rivaled only by Kyle Beckerman (note: I have not checked the stats on this), and they are often unnecessary. I would argue this one was, too.
Winner: Nedum Onuoha
Onuoha is an incredible steadying force on this team, and it is no coincidence that RSL was much more stable with him at the back. It’s not just his veteran presence — it’s the way he reads the game, snuffs out attacks, organizes the players around him. He’s incredibly valuable.