Justen Glad’s bloodied nose gives Real Salt Lake something it’s been missing

“These last games are playoff games and you have to have a certain mindset,” RSL coach Pablo Mastroeni said.

Real Salt Lake's Justen Glad, right, head the ball past Houston Dynamo's Corey Baird during the first half of an MLS soccer match Saturday, May 6, 2023, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Justen Glad’s nose was still throbbing long after the Real Salt Lake defender had sacrificed his face to head in the game-winning goal Saturday night.

The 65th-minute goal came via a cross from winger Andrés Gómez, bloodied Glad’s nose — and ultimately gave RSL a crucial 2-1 win over the Vancouver White Caps.

“Worth it,” Glad said afterward.

And much needed for an RSL team that caught fire early in the summer but had lost four of its last five league matches coming into the weekend.

“We have moved so far away from the identity of the team that led us to this point,” RSL coach Pablo Mastroeni said. “I think tonight, J. Glad’s goal encapsulates everything this team is, which is willing to put your body on the line to get a result. I think that’s the mindset.”

That’s what Mastroeni wants as RSL (12-11-7, tied for fourth in the West with 43 points) prepares for the final four games of the season.

“These last games are playoff games and you have to have a certain mindset,” Mastroeni said. “Something we haven’t been able to do is overcome deficits on the scoreboard. That’s not tactics, that’s an identity.”

RSL fell behind early Saturday when Vancouver’s Brian White scored in the 17th minute.

Salt Lake’s Brayan Vera provided the equalizer with a free kick in the 47th minute.

Then Glad put his team on top in the 65th.

“I just saw it coming in and I thought there was a window there,” he said. “I got to the ball first and got hit in the nose. Didn’t see that one coming.”

As for Glad’s nose?

“Not broken. All good,” he said.

Time will tell if the same is true for his team.

“These games toward the end, there’s no reprieve,” Mastroeni said. “You have to be willing to lose your legs and keep walking.”