SANDY, Utah – It was stalwart Nat Borchers who played the hero for Real Salt Lake on Saturday, scoring the game-winner in a wild 3-2 affair against FC Dallas.
But the rest of the cast on the evening was somewhat different than the usual. In the absence of Chris Wingert (injury), Nick Rimando (US national team) and Kyle Beckerman (US national team), head coach Jason Kreis inserted Terukazu Tanaka, Kyle Reynish and Yordany Álvarez.
And although there were highs and lows from the understudies, Kreis was more than happy to walk away with three points and some valuable experience for his bench.
“All three did well,” assessed the coach. “Obviously Tanaka assisted on the very first goal which was a very nice cross on his part, and [he] did well to get around the defender to get to the service. Yordany, I thought, had a pretty strong night, especially in the first half. And then Reynish had a strong night.”
Tanaka, making just his second start of the season, had the assist on a great individual effort. He did well in the attacking third for much of the night, although he struggled at times defensively. Arguably he could have done more to close down Blas Pérez late in the match when the big Panamanian made it 2-2.
That Pérez equalizer will also be the star attraction in Reynish’s nightmares for a while. It was the one blemish on the ‘keeper’s card for the evening, as he let it deflect off of his right arm and carom agonizingly into the net.
“He probably needed to do better, but those things come from playing more,” explained Kreis.
A player who made a case to do just that is Álvarez, who had the heaviest work in filling in for Beckerman. He held down the area just in front of the defensive four, shielding Borchers and Jámison Olave from the surging Dallas attack. Álvarez had seen action in four previous matches, but had only totaled 19 minutes prior to Saturday’s full shift.
“I thought he was breaking up a ton of plays in the midfield, and was in the right spot a lot of times,” said Kreis. “[He] still can be a little bit cleaner on the ball for me.”
Álvarez, Reynish and Tanaka will likely to get another chance to show their abilities in just three days as Real Salt Lake take on Minnesota Stars FC on May 29 in Lamar Hunt Open Cup action