It probably seemed as if struggling Real Salt Lake had hit its lowest point after taking quite the beating at the hands of league doormat Minnesota United. No coach, players not playing up to their potential, and the like all building up at Rio Tinto. Saturday evening though, with a new coach finally in charge and a blizzard turning Sandy, Utah into Snowy, Utah, a certain number ten led the charge for RSL and helped right the ship. Taking over from Javier Morales is no easy task, but 22-year old Albert Rusnak made his case, scoring and setting up 2 to take home Total MLS’ prestigious Offensive Player of the Week honour.
With Mike Petke taking over for recently fired Jeff Cassar, expectations were high as the Whitecaps came to town. Although RSL fans were left to wait till the 54th minute, it was Rusnak who got the home side on the board first. After receiving a pass about 30 yards from goal, the Slovakian raced into the left side of the penalty area and with 2 defenders guarding him, he cut back, faked a shot once, then buried the ball to the short side of a helpless David Ousted.
If there was an award for an assist of the week, Rusnak’s first to setup Yura Movsisyan would definitely be a contender. As Rusnak crossed the halfway line on the right wing, he looked up and delivered a 30-40 yard ball with pinpoint accuracy to an unmarked Yura just outside the 18 yard box. Yura subsequently doubled RSL’s lead in the 74th minute. Salt Lake’s number ten picked up his second assist, this time from a corner kick, finding a streaking Luke Mulholland to give Salt Lake a 3-0 victory at home. A memorable night in the snow in Utah.
Our Defensive Player of the Week goes to FC Dallas goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez in an interesting turn of events. Previously, I made mention that players excellent performance against Minnesota United should be prorated because, well, the Loons haven’t exactly come into the league guns blazing. However, it appears things may be changing, and this is why Gonzalez is a deserving winner.
With Minnesota looking to get on track in their first season, they took on FC Dallas in Frisco, and although the result certainly went in Dallas’ favour, Minnesota certainly made life difficult for the homeside. Gonzalez was forced into making 5 saves including a full stretched stop to deny Johan Venegas. Jessie also picked up 9 recoveries and 3 clearances earning himself a clean sheet as the Loons outshot, out-possessed and outplayed FC Dallas for stretches.
I think it’s necessary this week to give a shoutout to one of the most underrated defensive midfielders in the league for an outstanding performance. Ozzie Alonso had himself a game on Sunday, and although Seattle only left San Jose with a point, Ozzie’s 60 passes with 95% accuracy, 6 tackles, 4 interceptions, 5 clearances and 1 blocked shot were monumental for the Sounders effort.