What a match, huh? We’ll get to the nitty gritty tactical details soon, but for tonight, I’ve got some things to say about the team’s staunchness against an opponent that demanded it.
Winner: Pablo Ruiz
We’ve seen a rough season from Pablo Ruiz to this point. 2021 has not been kind to him. This match was very different — it is not difficult to say that he controlled the midfield. He fulfilled his responsibilities without overcomplicating things. Take a look at this passing chart from WhoScored — look at how defined Ruiz’s positioning is here. He’s occupying the middle third and operating there, with a little bit of building from the back for good measure. It’s hard to be more effusive than I am for Ruiz right now — I think it’s him at his very best. He wasn’t trying to launch shots from distance, and he wasn’t trying to show fancy feet. Truly great stuff.
Winner: Erik Holt
I didn’t expect to say this, but Erik Holt was tremendous tonight in what amounts to his first-ever victory while starting for Real Salt Lake. The entirety of the team wisely kept him from getting overly involved in passing, leaving the midfield and wing backs to do the lion’s share of building possession.
Winner: Aaron Herrera
He may have been questionable for this one, but his performance was anything but. His passing wasn’t ideal — just a 70 percent success rate — but his cross in to Damir Kreilach is why things worked so well.
Loser: Freddy Juarez
Winner: Everton Luiz
There was a tremendous amount of discipline in the way this team operated, and Luiz was a paragon of that. What could have been a very tricky match for him after picking up a first-half yellow card turned into something that showed a certain ease.