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RSL vs. Orlando City SC: Four winners & four losers

RSL wasn’t quite good enough, but they also weren’t quite bad enough to lose.

MLS: Real Salt Lake at Orlando City SC
Here’s a blurry photo of Marcelo Silva for your viewing pleasure.
James Gilbert-USA TODAY Sports

Loser: Tate Schmitt

Through the first half, Schmitt was the worst of a bad RSL side, giving the ball away in the rare cases when he received it and losing his mark defensively. Now, that’s not all on him: There has to be help from the midfield, and he didn’t have it, but he also has to do better personally. His second half was improved, certainly, but that won’t erase the negative feelings around his first half.

Winner: Corey Baird

Coming in during the second half, Baird was an instance difference-maker for RSL. He attacked, yes, but he also built an attack. He provided a new look, offered midfielders new options, and opened new space.

Loserwinner: Aaron Herrera

So, Aaron Herrera is not a winger. He doesn’t look good as a winger. He doesn’t offer much as a winger. But when he dropped back to his normal position after Justen Glad left the match, he didn’t miss a step. He was huge defensively, and he provided more in the attack than he did in the first half. Could he learn to be a great player on the wing? Maybe — I don’t think we should rule it out. But he’s so much better in his natural position — a more natural player, even — that there’s no reason to go back barring emergency.

Winner: Zac MacMath

While he wasn’t truly tested, Zac MacMath looked every bit the part in goal. I was a bit worried after preseason, as I didn’t think he looked great. But against Orlando, he played the sweeper-keeper role surprisingly well once RSL got going in the second half.

Winner: Marcelo Silva, Loser: Justen Glad

This isn’t about Justen Glad. I mean, tangentially it is, but not directly.

Marcelo Silva is actively winning a starting position right now. I think he probably holds a slight advantage over Glad right now, even. He was dominant against Orlando.

Sure, he had his one or two moments of being weirdly out of position. That’s what you get with Marcelo Silva. But barring those, he was excellent. Will he start next week? I guess we’ll find out. And will Glad start? Not at right back, I hope.

(Nedum Onuoha was also good, but I think he already had a starting spot won.)

Loser: Albert Rusnak

I mean, you saw Albert Rusnak give up on multiple plays when he didn’t need to, and you saw him delay play when he could have played in either Corey Baird or Giuseppe Rossi in the box. There’s no mistaking it. Rusnak had some excellent moments, but he’s not sharp, and he’s not connected. If he manages to get himself into gear in the future, he could be a hugely impactful player in 2020. If he doesn’t, I suspect we’ll see another year of him being a passable attacking midfielder and not a league-best one.