Real Salt Lake defeated the Philadelphia Union 1-0 on Saturday evening at Rio Tinto Stadium. RSL controlled most of the opening half and forced Union goalkeeper Andre Blake into a number of sprawled out saves. The Union came closest to tallying in the 17th minute when Ilsinho got behind RSL’s back line and forced Nick Rimando into a save that the Union midfielder was then able to head on frame again. Aaron Maund came to Rimando’s aid with a last gasp clearance that lifted the ball over the crossbar and out for a corner. RSL settled in with a number of long range blasts before Jefferson Savarino and Joao Plata set up a give-and-go that Plata finished off before crashing into the near post.
The second half featured more of the same from Real Salt Lake but they were unable to find a second goal. Joao Plata and Jefferson Savarino tortured the Union back line time and time again with Albert Rusnak, Luis Silva and Yura Movsisyan pulling the strings in the middle to create chances. Movsisyan entered in the 64th minute for Luis Silva and was active in front of goal, seeing one blast at Blake saved easily and another in the 81st minute blocked by a Philadelphia defender out for a corner. A last gasp opportunity for the Union in stoppage time came as Omar Holness was whistled for a foul just outside RSL’s box. Haris Medunjanin’s blast was parried away by Rimando and cleared by Chris Wingert to ensure the Claret-and-Cobalt took home all three points.
You can listen to Real Salt Lake manager Mike Petke’s evaluation of his team in the 1-0 victory by clicking on the link above. Here’s Salt City FC’s player evaluations for the match:
Jefferson Savarino – The Venezuelan international continues to show his quality surpasses his young age of 20. He gathered an assist in the stat-sheet on Joao Plata’s game-winner in the first half. He was sturdy on the ball in the second half as he took cracks from multiple Union defenders but maintained possession to create chances for himself and his teammates. Grade: B+
Luis Silva – Silva isn’t a traditional point forward in a 4-3-3 but he is able to link up with his teammates and push the action to the wings and get in front of goal. He was also active in taking shots during tonight’s match and saw his long-range efforts go begging but he put in a solid shift in his 63+ minutes before being lifted for Yura Movsisyan. Grade: B-
Joao Plata – Man of the Match – Plata has been much-maligned this season for his lack of production but tonight was a vintage Plata performance. He was active up and down the flanks of the Union and his give-and-go with Jefferson Savarino that got him on the goal sheet was a fantastic set up. Plata is no longer simply out-running opposing defenders for chances and he’s starting to settle in. Hopefully tonight’s goal will get him rolling Grade: A-
Albert Rusnak – Rusnak was able to play higher up the pitch tonight thanks to Luke Mulholland and Stephen Sunday’s prodigious work behind him in the midfield. That opened up the attack for RSL and led to multiple chances. Rusnak’s able to fly with the ball at his feet and it seems at times that he surprises his teammates with his deft ability to get forward and get into the attack. Grade: B
You can listen to Rusnak’s assessment of the match from the post-match press conference here:
Luke Mulholland – Mulholland did a lot of dirty work early in the match before finding his chances on the attacking end in the waning moments of the match. He continues to show his quality and his ability to break up opposing team’s possession in the midfield and get the ball to his teammates is getting better each week. Grade: B
Stephen Sunday – The debate for Man of the Match came down to Sunny and Plata. While the goal-scorer took the award, that shouldn’t devalue what Sunny was able to do in tonight’s match. Filling in for a suspended Kyle Beckerman, Sunny was a terror for the Union attackers as he played with tenacity and grit. He’s starting to look like the player who had a torrid start to 2016 before he was injured. Grade: A-
Listen to Sunny’s post-match interview here:
Chris Wingert – Wingert played left back for a the first time in a while and did fine. He was steady in his approach and didn’t try to do too much. He struggled a times with the sun being in his eyes in the first half and that affected his linking up on switches but all in all a solid shift from the wily veteran Grade: C+
Chris Schuler – Schuler is rounding into form and playing well. When “Shoe” is healthy, he’s an MLS All-Star quality centerback and he’s enjoying a solid run of health right now. He was able to corral C.J. Sapong throughout the match and even showed off some of his on-ball technical skills that sent Union players blowing past him. Grade: B
Aaron Maund – Maund is rounding into form as well after dealing with his own health issues earlier in the season. One of his best traits is his ability to co-exist with whoever is paired with him in central defense and he makes up for a number of deficiencies. His last-gasp clearance in the 17th minute was quality work and bailed his team out of a tough spot. Grade: B+
Tony Beltran – Beltran finally was able to get on the pitch and play for Mike Petke after he dealt with both a back and calf injury that hampered him for weeks. His return and a 1-0 result are not mutually exclusive. The veteran defender began the sequence that led to Joao Plata’s goal and his ability to keep simple possession helped ignite multiple attacks for the Claret-and-Cobalt. Grade: B+
Listen to Beltran’s post-match thoughts here:
Nick Rimando – “The Wall of the Wasatch” was just that and more in tonight’s match. Rimando made a number of athletic saves to keep the shutout intact, none more so that the stoppage time blast from the Union that he parried back into traffic before it was cleared by Chris Wingert. Another savvy performance for the GOAT of MLS goalkeepers. Grade: B+
Yura Movsisyan – Movsisyan was on the bench to begin tonight’s match after some critical comments about how he was being utilized by Mike Petke and he looked determined to prove his ability when he entered the match in the 64th minute. He had two shots, one of which was right at Andre Blake and another that was blocked out by a defender but it was a good shift for the DP as he looks to regain his starting spot. Grade: B-
Omar Holness – Holness entered the match late and was whistled for a foul just outside the penalty area that led to the Union’s final chance on goal. He complained to the referee about an elbow that was thrown but to no avail. Holness continues to be a stopper for Mike Petke and has quality but hasn’t be able to unseat any of the other regulars in RSL’s midfield quite yet. Grade: C
Justin Schmidt – Schmidt came on just before stoppage time for Joao Plata to get more bodies behind the ball and immediately won a ball that didn’t amount to a chance but helped kill time for Real Salt Lake to see out the match. Grade: N/A
Real Salt Lake has a quick turnaround as they head to the Lone Star State for a match against the Houston Dynamo on Wednesday night. Match time is set for 6 p.m. MDT and you can catch all the action on KMYU with David James and Brian Dunseth on the call.