Three Points: Damir Kreilach gets clinical for Real Salt Lake, Bobby Wood starts, and continued domination over Vancouver

Observations from RSL’s first win in four games.

(Isaac Hale | Special to The Tribune) Real Salt Lake forward Bobby Wood (7) passes the ball upfield past Houston Dynamo midfielder Derrick Jones (21) during a MLS game between Real Salt Lake and Houston Dynamo FC at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy on Saturday, June 26, 2021.

Sandy • Here are three observations from Real Salt Lake’s 4-0 win over the Vancouver Whitecaps.

1. Damir Kreilach gets clinical

Kreilach was RSL’s leading scorer coming into Wednesday’s game against the Vancouver Whitecaps. Though not technically a striker, he’s been known to knock home more than his fair share of goals over his years with the team.

Kreilach put away two more against the Whitecaps, and they were two of his more impressive goals of the season thus far.

The first came less than a minute into the game. Defender Aaron Herrera sent a long pass from past midfield right in front of him. Kreilach made the only play available — a chip over the goalkeeper — and stuck it.

The second came in the second half but was just as clinical. Forward Justin Meram makes a pass into the box, targeting a few RSL players. But Kreilach found the ball, flicked it with his head cleanly while directing it into the back of the net. He even tracks back a few steps to get to the ball.

Kreilach could’ve had a hat trick if he had taken the penalty kick midfielder Albert Rusnák took in the 74th minute. But after a discussion between the two, Kreilach chose to give it to Rusnák because it was his birthday and he “deserved to get a goal as well,” Kreilach said.

These shots by Kreilach are hard for any player to convert. But they never seem so for Kreilach.

2. Bobby Wood makes presence known in first start

Coach Freddy Juarez made four changes to starting lineup after the team’s loss to LAFC over the weekend. One of those changes but Wood at the No. 9 position in place of forward Rubio Rubin, who came off the bench.

Wood played 58 minutes, recorded three total shots with two of them being on goal. He also won one duel.

Juarez after the game recalled two or three occasions where the ball was served to him and he got to the end of it.

“He causes a lot of problems with his physique,” Juarez said, adding that with time, the forward will continue to get more fit and gain a better understanding of his teammates.

Wood was brought in to bolster RSL’s attack after a 2020 season that left the team starving for goals. He came quite close to scoring his first MLS goal on Wednesday.

“He brings something different than what Rubio has,” Rusnák said. “For us as a team, it’s great to have two strikers that you can rely on and both bring quality and something different. I thought for Bobby Wood’s first start, he had a very decent performance and I believe it’s only going to get better.”

3. RSL continues to dominate Vancouver

It has to be said: the Vancouver Whitecaps are not a good team. They are at the bottom of the Western Conference standings, and on Wednesday lost their seventh game of the season out of 12 played.

RSL entered the game ninth in the West, but the win put it at 16 points and above the playoff line for now. It was definitely a much-needed victory for a team that was winless in three games. Salt Lake’s last win? Three weeks ago against Vancouver.

RSL has now put seven goals and allowed just one against the Whitecaps in two games. The performances make Salt Lake look a contender.

That might not be objectively true, but the fact remains: RSL needed a win, and it got it. That’ll do wonders for the confidence of the players.

Plus, the good teams beat the teams they’re supposed to beat. RSL did that Wednesday night, which could be the start of a turnaround from a results standpoint.

“We have a reason to be happy after tonight’s game,” Rusnák said.

Maybe the team finally caught a break.