ORLANDO (ABC4 Sports) – Real Salt Lake is off to a great start at the MLS is Back Tournament in Orlando.
Albert Rusnak and Damir Kreilach scored goals as RSL won its first game of the season with a 2-0 victory over Colorado.
This is RSL’s first victory of the 2020 season after starting it off with two draws in March before the COVID-19 pandemic shut the season down for four months.
Zac MacMath made four saves in goal for the shutout for RSL.
“After four months without playing, you don’t know quite what you’re going to get,” head coach Freddy Juarez said. “We were anticipating a good start because we had some very combative and close-matched games within our intrasquads. Any success that we got today was from the sparring team that we had. Guys were pushing the envelope and pushing the pace. I think that’s what prepared us the best. Overall, what we take from it is a good start. Especially when you are starting a tournament off you want to get a positive result so you can get some momentum. It wasn’t pretty. There were good times and there were some bad times but the best part of it is that we dealt with it as a team and that was the most important part today.”
Rusnak opened the scoring for RSL in the 27th minute. When Douglas Martinez’ crossing pass was parried away by Colorado goalkeeper Clint Irwin, Rusnak lined up a shot that he didn’t hit cleanly, but still deflected off of one defender and through the legs of another defender for the goal.
“In the first half I think we dominated the game.,” Rusnak said. “Not just in the midfield but everywhere. For 90 minutes we were very solid defensively and we’ve put a lot of work in training in the past couple of months on that. So, it felt great to finally be back on the field and get the win in a tournament. It’s huge.”
Rusnak could have had his second goal of the match, but his penalty kick was saved by Irwin in the 72nd minute to keep Colorado in the game for the moment.
But in the 76th minute, Kreilach collected a pass from Corey Baird and one-timed the blast home for his second goal of the season to give RSL a 2-0 cushion.
“To not play a league game for four months was tough,” Kreilach said. “Today all the credit is to the team from the first second of the game. Our body language was great, and we dominated the game. In the second half we were a little bit deep but still controlled the situation and didn’t give Colorado anything so it’s well done to everyone.”
Since 2015, Real Salt Lake is now 10-2-1 against their Rocky Mountain Cup rivals.
Real Salt Lake next plays Minnesota United in a Group D match Friday night at 8:30 p.m. mountain time. All group games count towards the MLS regular season standings.