Here are three takeaways from Real Salt Lake’s 1-1 draw to Minnesota United.
1. Recent draws could cost RSL in the playoff hunt
Brooks Lennon and coach Mike Petke said the draw was frustrating. There were several reasons for that, but the glaring one is that it’s the second game in three weeks where RSL felt that it left points on the table.
Remember the near-draw on the road against San Jose? That was a game that felt impressive right until the stoppage-time goal and then, in an instant, felt important because of the non-result. The draw Saturday was different because RSL scored to secure a point in the standings, and that point put the club back above the playoff line.
After the game, Petke lamented that he pushed his players too hard in practice, leading to an “uninspired” performance. The passing wasn’t there. The off-ball movement wasn’t there. The spirit Real often exhibits at home wasn’t there. Petke took the blame and acknowledged that even if his team had figured out a way to take all three points, it would not have felt right.
“Tonight, I feel that we could have won it, but looking back on it — and I have to look at it again — perhaps 1-1 draw is the correct outcome,” Petke said.
Still, Real had plenty of opportunities to win. If the organization is being honest with itself, a game like that at home should result in three points. And every time a win turns into a draw, or a draw turns into a loss, the possible consequences of that are magnified.
2. The center back combination is anybody’s game right now
For most of 2019, Marcelo Silva has been relegated to a backup role at center back. He’s started eight of the 11 games in which he’s played, but hasn’t seen the field at all in the other 10.
In the past three games, however, he’s impressed Petke while subbing for Nedum Onuoha, who has been out with an adductor injury and is in England taking care of his visa. Silva provided the equalizing goal Saturday, which is basically found money for a defender, but he may have worked himself into a bigger role moving forward.
“He’s definitely been patient with getting back in the lineup, and when he has, he’s done very well to the point that when Nedum’s back from injury/his visa stuff over in England, and everybody's healthy, it’s given me a lot to think about,” Petke said. “There’s no guaranteed two center backs right now because of the way Marcelo came back in and performed.”
3. Congratulations, Sava!
There was a surprise waiting for Jefferson Savarino — if he managed to score a goal against Minnesota. He didn’t score, but he did notch an assist on Marcelo Silva’s equalizer in the 70th minute.
The surprised happened anyway. Blue confetti shot in the air from the stands, signifying that Savarino is going to have a baby boy. His wife planned it, and he did not know beforehand the sex of his unborn child.
That moment was just cool. Yes, Savarino is a soccer player. A good one at that. But athletes have entire lives outside of the sport they play for a living, and Savarino’s life just got a little bit sweeter.