Justen Glad grew as a player and as a leader for Real Salt Lake in the 2021 season. The longest-tenured player in a RSL uniform showed up in another tumultuous year for the club that saw their head coach leave for a rival to take a demotion all while RSL did not have an owner.
Glad was a leader for the club and a reliable starter. Glad ended the regular season playing 2,787 minutes over the course of 31 games out of a possible 34. That was good enough for third overall, after Albert Rusnak and Damir Kreilach. Glad also scored the most goals out of all the RSL defenders, albeit not a high number of two. Still, if your defenders can score just a few goals each season, that helps the club earn points in a big way.
Glad was notably more vocal in the back, helping to organize the defense putting his vision to use. Glad’s intellectual play in the back showed through statistically as well. Glad led the team in interceptions ending the season with 46, a pretty sizable margin over the next highest player, Pablo Ruiz who ended with 38.
Without a doubt, Glad’s highlight of the season was his penalty kick to beat Seattle and send RSL to the quarterfinals of the MLS Playoffs. This was especially meaningful since previous coaches seemed to not want to play Justen in MLS Playoff games for reasons that are still unclear. Give that context, it’s poetic justice that Glad stepped up with confidence after a really well-played game in which RSL earned the shutout and slotted the ball in the net when it counted most. In doing so, he represented well not just for himself, but for the club and the academy.
Glad can and will very likely continue to be a rock for RSL’s back line for years to come, and that is an incredibly positive thing for the club and the fans.