Real Salt Lake got its first taste of MLS competition on Saturday in a preseason matchup with the Colorado Rapids in the Visit Tucson Sun Cup and was impressive on both sides of the ball in a 3-0 win.
In the first 90-minute match of the preseason, Damir Kreilach scored two and Anderson Julio added a third as RSL controlled the match from the early-going and never relented in the victory over its Rocky Mountain Cup rivals.
“Again, I think the key word was mentality. We understood we were going to come and play a very good team in Colorado who has been having very good results in the preseason. We knew there were moments when we had to suffer. I thought the group had an amazing mentality. There were moments when we had to sacrifice and we did,” RSL Head Coach Freddy Juarez said. “There was a lot of unity and a lot of effort from the guys. At the end of the day, the group was very positive. Mistakes were made, which are going to be made in any game, but we responded in the proper way.”
Julio scored in his second-straight match in the 12th minute and was connecting with players throughout the match, showing early chemistry with his new teammates. In the ninth minute, he got in on a ball from Rubio Rubin - who himself did yeoman’s work as striker though he did not figure into the scoring – but missed just wide on his effort on goal. Three minutes later, Andrew Brody made a slaloming run through the Colorado defense, taking the ball from his own side of midfield and into the box, leaving it for Julio to charge into it for the finish from just inside the box for a 1-0 lead.
Throughout the rest of the half, Julio and Rubin connected on several occasions, also combining with Kreilach to make a formidable attack for RSL. Finally, in the 44th minute, Brody again got into the box before being dragged down for a penalty. Kreilach converted the PK and RSL went into halftime toting a 2-0 lead.
“I thought Rubio was big time for us. It’s not easy playing against those two center backs. He was very good in hold up play and running in behind. (Justin) Meram doing his thing – moments getting up the field and other times sacrificing for the group. Anderson continues to get better and better. He’s a handful. He created some moments to get himself in front of goal from work – from defending – but also from quality play,” Juarez said. “It’s going to take more time, more training, but it was overall a solid performance from the guys.”
In a back-and-forth second half, RSL kept Colorado at bay, limiting the Rapids’ opportunities to shots from distance. In the 77th minute, Kreilach added to the lead. Rubin had his initial shot saved, but the rebound tumbled around the box before Kreilach thundered in his second goal of the night for a 3-0 advantage. The defense held strong for the remainder of the match and RSL left with the 3-0 victory.
RSL will face Phoenix Rising FC on Wednesday from Kino North Stadium in Tucson, Arizona. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. MT.
Real Salt Lake (4-2-3-1): Zac MacMath; Andrew Brody, Erik Holt, Marcelo Silva, Donny Toia; Everton Luiz, Pablo Ruiz; Anderson Julio (Bode Davis 86’), Damir Kreilach (Milan Iloski 87’), Justin Meram (Chris Garcia 80’); Rubio Rubin.
Colorado Rapids (4-2-3-1): William Yarbrough; Keegan Rosenberry, Lalas Abubakar (Auston Trusty 74’), Danny Wilson (Drew Moor 74’), Steven Beitashour (Oliver Larraz 74’); Jack Price, Younes Namli; Michael Barrios (Nicolas Benezet 74’), Cole Bassett (Yaya Toure 85’), Nicolas Mezquida (Collen Warner 74’); Andre Shinyashiki.