Despite the thrill of playing in one of the most famous stadiums in the world, against some of the Premier League’s biggest names, Albert Rusnák exited Wembley Stadium on Sept. 4 unsatisfied.
The RSL attacking midfielder earned his fifth cap with Slovakia’s senior team in that match against England, coming off the bench in the 68th minute. With his call-up this week for Slovakia’s October World Cup qualifying matches, Rusnák has become a regular on the senior team. But he won’t stop there. Rusnák wants to earn a starting role.
“National team is not like a club [where] a new player comes in and he can play straight away,” he said. “It’s something that you build two years to qualify for a final tournament, and I came right in the middle of the qualifiers, you know? So I understand that it’s not easy, and it’s not necessarily dependent on how I train or how I play, but it’s something that I think that is within reach.”
Slovakia (5-3-0, 15 points), currently in second place in Group F, is making a push for its second World Cup appearance since gaining independence.
Along with Rusnák, RSL wingers Jefferson Savarino (Venezuela) and Joao Plata (Ecuador) have been named to their respective national teams for the upcoming qualifiers, thus bringing recognition to an attack that has made huge strides in recent months. None are expected to miss any RSL matches for the qualifiers due to the international break.
“I think in the beginning of the season everyone was questioning our scoring ability and the players and our team,” said goalkeeper Nick Rimando, a regular on the United States national team. “But to see where we are now and to see the goals that are going in and the combinations, it’s fun to see.”
Forward Luis Silva returned from a right groin strain to start Saturday’s match.
He missed just one full game after suffering the injury in RSL’s match against Portland two weeks ago.
24 under 24
Rusnák was ranked No. 15 in mlssoccer.com’s 24 Under 24 series Wednesday to give RSL a total of three players on the list.
Defender Justen Glad (18) and Savarino (22) were also included on the list of the top young players in the league, voted on by a panel of media members in in the U.S. and Canada, and announced this week.
Atlanta United midfielder Miguel Almirón topped the rankings. The 23-year-old designated player entered play Saturday with nine goals and 13 assists for a playoff-bound Atlanta team this season.