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RSL vs. Vancouver Whitecaps: Three winners, three losers

It wasn’t just the Damir Kreilach show, but he certainly led the charge.

MLS: Vancouver Whitecaps FC at Real Salt Lake Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

Real Salt Lake’s match against Vancouver Whitecaps was a bit of a wild one, especially when you consider that it took until stoppage time for the team to earn full points at home for the first time since May 1 against Sporting Kansas City.

Here are three winners and three losers from the victory propelled forward by our first player here: Damir Kreilach.

Winner: Damir Kreilach

How good is Damir Kreilach? His brace bookended the game-winning goal, and his uncanny ability to lift RSL in difficult moments continues. He’s got an uncanny ability to drift away from defenders to win headers, and his teammates certainly have a great degree of trust in him — after all, they know if they put the ball in the right spot, he will almost certainly win the header. That sort of certainty is immense.

Loser: Aaron Herrera

This was not Aaron Herrera’s game. I don’t know what happened to make it so, but outside of his assist from a throw-in (which, well, that was wild), I thought he was being beat a bit too often, and he didn’t have a great connection with his team. Part of that was because he was playing a more defensive foil to Andrew Brody’s attacking intent, and it may even be what gave him a bit of trouble — I think he’s a better attacking full back than he is a one-on-one defender.

Beyond this, he played Brian White onside for Vancouver’s goal, and with a step or two in the right direction, we would have been in a much safer position. He also went recklessly into a challenge that may have significantly injured Whitecaps defender Brian Guiterrez, which is unfortunate.

This categorization is largely because Aaron Herrera has set a high standard for himself, and when he falls short of that, it’s easy to notice. All told, I don’t think he was extremely bad — just not quite what we needed him to be.

Winner: Erik Holt

I really don’t understand how Holt ended up as one of the earliest non-forced substitutions we’ve made all season, but you know what? It worked out, and that’s great. I have placed Holt in this column firmly for his goal, and because he didn’t screw anything up too badly. (Still, that late yellow card? That could easily have been red. That would have been quite the story, wouldn’t it?)

Loser: Pablo Ruiz

Normally a safe haven in the midfield, Pablo Ruiz had a very poor match. His passing success was below his normally impressive rate, and he gave away the ball a shocking five times. That’s not what you want from the midfielder tying your game together, and frankly, his struggles really showed. There’s nothing I’m worried about right now, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little on edge.

Winner: Anderson Julio

A caveat here: Julio is by and large a 45-minute player — maybe a 60-minute player. He waned over the course of his time. I get that. But at the same time, he had three key passes, two of which came in the minutes before he was substituted for Justin Meram. I think the substitution was the right one, but it’s an interesting thing.

All that said, the presence of somebody like Anderson Julio is keenly felt. He can attack unlike any player on our roster, and his speed stretches teams when they’re attacking us. Frankly, we let Vancouver attack far too readily, but at least that was a silver lining.

Loser: Marcelo Silva

Any time you’ve got a center back on a yellow card after fewer than 15 minutes, you know you’re in trouble. I don’t know how much his yellow card played into the way he played afterward (I’m certain there was some impact,) but with a new center back in the wings, I think we saw Silva squander his best opportunity to stay in the starting XI when Toni Datkovic arrives.