ORLANDO, FL. – Real Salt Lake and Colorado Rapids opened their MLS is Back Group D on Sunday night. This was the first game either team had played in four months. Albert Rusnak came ready to play, the Rapids not so much.
Albert Rusnack, RSL Down Colorado Rapids
It was all RSL in the first 30 minutes of the game. They possessed the ball well and found space on the wings. Albert Rusnak and the other attackers found space between the midfield and backline to go directly at center backs Drew Moor and Lalas Abubakar.
Just six minutes in, Corey Baird fired a shot off the crossbar on a great passing sequence into the box. They nearly scored again in the 21st minute when a recycled set piece forced goalkeeper Clint Irwin to make a point blank save as the ball was cleared off the line.
They finally got their goal in the 21st minute. Douglas Martinez found space on the wing and whipped a ball in. The center backs followed Damir Kreilach and the ball fell right to Rusnak who scored.
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The second have started more evenly. Colorado possessed the ball and got into the final third but weren’t sharp enough to create danger. Martinez drew a penalty on Irwin in the 70th minute. The striker ran onto a poor backpass aimed at Lalas Abubakar. His run put him in the path of Irwin and the two collided.
Rusnak took the PK but Irwin guessed right make the save to his left. Kreilach shot first time in the rebound but Irwin completed the double save to keep Burgundy hopes alive.
RSL were inevitable though, scoring off a throw in seven minutes later. Rusnak got the ball at the top of the box and passed to Kreilach who placed the ball perfectly inside the left post. The match ended 2-0.
Albert Rusnak stirs the drink: RSL has been at their best when Rusnak is on and the cast around him execute. RSL pressed the Rapids early and often and took advantage of it. The team got the ball to Rusnak in the final third, he found teammates in a good position, and those teammates executed. Kreilach and Martinez complimented him well.
Rapid wakeup call: This is the worst game the Rapids have played since Robin Fraser took over. They started poorly and did not adjust. They looked the less sharp team in every phase of the team. Toothless on offense, overwhelmed on defense.
Critical next games: RSL will play Minnesota United FC on Friday. Colorado will take on Sporting KC. The Loons beat KC on Sunday as well, so RSL will be playing the other team with three points in Group D. Colorado will be playing the other team with zero points. RSL wins and they probably win the group. Colorado gets anything less than a win, and they are probably eliminated.