Real Salt Lake’s recent run of good form has come as a result of them getting contributions from everywhere, and that was once again the case on Saturday afternoon.
RSL defender Aaron Maund started at center back in the team's 1-0 win over Toronto FC, and that made him the 19th different player to start a game in MLS play for the Claret and Cobalt this season. Maund's performance not only helped Real Salt Lake pick up their latest cleansheet of the season, but it also provided more proof of the broad depth the club has.
Maund had previously started against the Charleston Battery in an Open Cup game a couple of weeks ago, but he was much more impressive on Saturday against the same Toronto FC side that traded him to RSL before the season started.
"I thought he was super — super," said Real Salt Lake head coach Jason Kreis in a postgame TV interview. "It wasn't a perfect game. I thought he made a couple mistakes at the end where I thought he should be heading to players and headed to their players and caused us to have to look at second chances a little bit. Super, super reaction because the last time he played it was a bit of a struggle for him at home. I thought this might be the right time. He had a good reserve match down in Phoenix for the guys. I thought he acquitted himself very, very nicely. Welcome Aaron Maund to the team."
Maund, who went the distance against TFC in what was his first league appearance of the campaign, said after the match that he is happy to be where he is now.
“It’s good to see my old teammates and stuff like that, but when you step on the field it’s all business," he told reporters after the match. "For that 90 minutes, it’s a war, but it was good to get a result here. It was a tough game and I think we did well with it.”
Besides trotting out a different starting lineup, RSL also deployed a different formation from their traditional 4-4-2 with a diamond midfield. They instead used a 4-3-3, starting three forwards in Olmes Garcia, Devon Sandoval and Joao Plata. The formation wasn't perfect, but it had plenty of bright spots as well.
"I think so," said Kreis on if he felt the formation was effective. "As we say, the questions are always answered in the matches. We can talk on the chalkboard as much as we want, we can run through things in practice and see that we like it, but the players answer the questions in the game. I think that they did a pretty nice job today. It wasn't perfect, but it was their first time at it. It's nice to see we have another option."
For RSL, this couldn't have come at a better time. Departing for CONCACAF Gold Cup national team duty are regulars Alvaro Saborio, Kyle Beckerman, Nick Rimando and Tony Beltran, and their absences mean over a third of the team's starters will be missing, something that Kreis surely feels a little better about after seeing how many options he really has.