Sandy •Â Just call him Jonny Drama.
The heavily tattooed substitute midfielder who earned a spot with Real Salt Lake in the preseason after playing for a dozen minor league teams in eight years real name, Jonny Steele has become a franchise hero in just two months, by scoring twice in the dying moments to ultimately save five points in the standings.
"Maybe now he'll be the super sub," coach Jason Kreis said.
Steele already has forged an identity as a dramatic game-winner Â Man of Steele, if you will? after his second strike of the season delivered a 3-2 victory over Toronto FC in stoppage-time on Saturday.
The win snapped a three-game winless streak and kept RSL from having to endure an agonizing wait to take on the New England Revolution at Rio Tinto Stadium next Saturday.
"It would have been pretty miserable in here for the next week, waiting to play the next game," midfielder Ned Grabavoy said.
It was only a month ago that Steele scored an equally stunning equalizer in the 89th minute at Portland that allowed RSL to win 3-2 in stoppage time. Both times, he came on as a late substitute in the 78th minute in Portland and in the 82nd minute against Toronto a role few players embrace so dramatically.
"As long as I can contribute something, as long as I can put some hard work in, and if the chances come and I take them, I'll be happy," he said.
So will RSL.
It entered the season with questions about its depth, after losing several key players in the offseason.
But Steele and fellow rookie Sebastian Velasquez have emerged as forceful contributors in a midfield stocked with veterans Javier Morales, Kyle Beckerman, Will Johnson and Ned Grabavoy. The two newcomers have effectively split time filling in for whichever regular is injured, with Velasquez starting five times and Steele starting twice.
Steele has come on in the final half-hour seven other times, though, and obviously made a huge impression.
"He likes big ones," defender Chris Wingert said. "The guy's a gamer, and he loves to play. I love his competitive spirit. I'm just so happy for him and wanted to give him a kiss at the end" of the Toronto game.
Kreis said he expects Steele will be pushing for more playing time, and he surely will get more chances as the team progresses further into its busy summer schedule.
For now, the team will enjoy a "normal" week with just one game, although that game starts another three-games-in-eight-days stretch, before the schedule dries up to only one league game in four weeks.
"I feel really good now," Kreis said. "I feel good that you can walk into the next week with some confidence, and you feel like you have some momentum."
New England at Salt Lake
P Saturday, 7 p.m.
TV • CW30