Real Salt Lake 3 vs FC Cincinnati 0
April 19, 2019; Nippert Stadium
Real Salt Lake (3-4-1, 10 points); FC Cincinnati (2-4-2, 8 points)
Man of the Match: Albert Rusnák had two goals and three chances created to lead the charge in the opportunistic offensive onslaught that started with his goal in the 42nd minute. He now has four goals on the season and RSL is 2-0-1 in matches that he scores in. That moves Salt Lake to 15-2-1 all-time in matches when the Slovakian midfielder scores since he arrived prior to the 2017 season.
Telling Stat: Real Salt Lake didn’t have a shot until the 42nd minute – Corey Baird’s saved effort that immediately led to Rusnák’s first goal. Throughout the first 40 minutes, RSL withstood the direct play of Cincinnati and while it conceded 13 corners in the match, including nine in the first half, the defense held firm throughout the contest and kept any of the potential opportunities from being too dangerous. After the goal, the game turned on its head and RSL outshot Cincinnati 10-7 the rest of the way as RSL took control of the match and three points.
What You Missed: With Everton Luiz and Nick Rimando out of action due to injuries, their replacements filled in admirably. Damir Kreilach dropped back into the midfield alongside Kyle Beckerman in Luiz’s holding midfield role and adapted well, making two tackles and completing nearly 85% of his passes. A key element to RSL’s attack when he’s been on the field over the last two seasons, Kreilach showed his versatility in the middle of the park and while he wasn’t the disruptive force that Luiz poses in that role, he helped in limiting Cincinnati to just one shot on goal. Meanwhile, Putna made the one save asked of him and earned his first career MLS shutout and second win in as many MLS starts.
So What: There was a lot of uncertainty heading into the match, as Rimando and Luiz joined a list of injuries that already included veterans Marcelo Silva, Tony Beltran and Luke Mulholland. This match continued to show the success in development on RSL’s roster though. In addition to the five RSL Academy products who appeared in the match, eight of the 14 players who appeared for RSL had played minutes with Real Monarchs in the USL Championship over the last two years. It will be another tough test next week, as the LA Galaxy has caught fire of late and now sits second in the West at 6-1-0. Will RSL be able to carry any momentum from its two straight wins against Eastern Conference foes next Sunday?