Real Salt Lake’s offense trending upward as it heads to Kansas City to play Sporting KC

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Real Salt Lake midfielder Albert Rusnak (11) brings the ball downfield, in MLS soccer action at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Saturday, March 9, 2019.

Herriman • Before Wednesday’s resounding win over New York City FC, Real Salt Lake suffered through two consecutive games without scoring a single goal. One of them was the Leagues Cup loss to Tigres UANL, the other a scoreless draw against FC Dallas.

But against NYCFC, Real’s offense went somewhat crazy despite conceding a goal in the first four minutes. After they scored the first goal, two more came and turned a tight game at halftime into a rout.

What RSL did against NYCFC has been rare in recent years. It was only the fifth time the club scored more than two goals this season, and it happened only three times through 23 games last season.

Heading into Wednesday, midfielder Albert Rusnák said the team was creating enough chances, but just not finishing them. He suggested that RSL only really needs to see one ball find the back of the net to get going on offense.

“We just feel like when we put one away, then we can do what we did to Philly and then just score every chance after that as well,” Rusnák said.

Almost a month ago, RSL dropped four goals on the Philadelphia Union. After forward Jefferson Savarino put one away in the 23rd minute, the other three came within an 18-minute stretch late in the second half.

A similar situation occurred against NYCFC. Savarino again provided Real’s first goal before the second half, and the next two came within only 13 minutes oother.

When asked why the team at times tends to put away multiple goals after getting the first one, midfielder Damir Kreilach said, “That’s confidence.”

“We have so good individual players to create any time overload and to create the chances,” Kreilach added. “This game against New York FC, we used our opportunities.”

Juarez said the team creating blowouts after getting one goal could be attributed to confidence or opposing teams falling apart. Ultimately, however, he can’t really put a finger on it.

“That’s the million-dollar question,” Juarez said. “I know we are a team that’s capable of scoring from different areas. It isn’t just one specific player. I think that’s been one of our strengths in the past years — we don’t have one guy that if he doesn’t score, we’re in trouble.”

That’s bore out throughout the entire season. The addition of Sam Johnson gave RSL a dynamic poacher at the No. 9 position, and for much of the season he’s been the leading goal scorer on the team. But Rusnák has since caught up to Johnson’s eight goals, and Savarino isn’t far behind with six after a strong stretch of games recently.

Salt Lake has scored more than two goals twice in the last five games, and with a match against a struggling Sporting Kansas City on Saturday, things are trending up offensively speaking. Juarez said Savarino, Rusnák, Kreilach, Corey Baird and Sebastian Saucedo are always threats, and they need to continue that trend.

“We need to just continue to get goals from wherever,” Juarez said. “Doesn’t matter. The burden’s not on one guy. It’s on defending right, attacking out of a good defensive shape, and whoever has the best opportunity to score, if they can put it away that’d be great.”


At Children’s Mercy Park, Kansas City, Kansas

Kickoff » Saturday, 6:30 p.m.


Radio » 700 AM

Last meeting » RSL 2, SKC 0 (June 29, 2019)

Records » RSL 10-9-4 (6th in West), SKC 7-9-7 (10th in West)

About SKC » Team has won three of its last five games. … Felipe Gutierrez leads team with 10 goals, while two other players have seven apiece. … Within only five points of the playoff line. … Has conceded the third-most goals in the Western Conference.

About RSL » Acquired Kelyn Rowe from SKC just before the summer transfer window closed. … Everton Luiz will serve a one-game suspension due to yellow card accumulation. … Last game with Freddy Juarez as acting head coach before Mike Petke resumes his duties Monday. … Record of 4-1-3 since returning from the Gold Cup break. … Sam Johnson is listed as probable after being out for weeks with a quad injury.