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3 takeaways from RSL’s draw against shorthanded LA Galaxy

SHARE 3 takeaways from RSL’s draw against shorthanded LA Galaxy

Real Salt Lake defender Aaron Herrera (22) stops the ball as it crosses over to him as Real Salt Lake and Vancouver FC play at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy on Wednesday, July 7, 2021.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

Real Salt Lake took the field Wednesday night at Rio Tinto Stadium to face its second LA team in as many games, this time an LA Galaxy squad that sat at third place in the Western Conference. 

The Claret and Cobalt came out of the gates strong with goals from Albert Rusnak — his first in the run of play this season — and Maikel Chang in the first 26 minutes of the game to snatch an early two-goal lead. But the Galaxy responded with two unanswered goals from Victor Vázquez and Rayan Raveloson in the 33rd and 78th minutes, respectively, which knotted the game.

Both teams each had ample opportunities to potentially get a third goal, the most notable coming from RSL’s Anderson Julio in the 94th minute when his long-range header clanked off the crossbar. Despite the chances, the game remained at 2-2 and RSL picked up its fifth draw in 13 games, four of which have come in the nine games at Rio Tinto.

Real Salt Lake has secured 13 of 27 possible points at home this year. 

Here are three takeaways from the game:

Another Aaron Herrera assist

Once again it was a cross from Aaron Herrera that created an RSL goal, with Rusnak taking his turn as the beneficiary of the right back’s fantastic service play so far this season. The assist was the sixth of the season for Herrera, which is tied for the second most in MLS and easily the most among defenders. 

Assist number six came during the night that MLS All-star voting closed, and many speculate that the homegrown Herrera could be among those who receive the All-star nod. 

“So proud of Aaron in (his service) phase of the game,” RSL head coach Freddy Juarez said. “He’s been making a difference. He was fantastic for us tonight and he’s still growing. He still has a lot to learn, but if there’s one thing you know you’re going to get from Aaron, and that’s that he’s going to sacrifice his body and push it to the limit.”

Unable to capitalize on a shorthanded Galaxy squad

The home draw is all the more disappointing when you consider the amount of players who were absent from the game for LA due to injury. Most notable of those was MLS leading goal scorer Chicharito Hernández, who had scored 10 goals in 10 appearances so far this season. 

Given the missing production, the Galaxy certainly came away from the game feeling like they put together a positive result by stealing a point.

“Trust me, we’re just as much frustrated as the fans and everyone else around the club are,” Rusnak said following the draw.

Second-half struggles continue

Despite being able to string together a plethora of impressive opening halves throughout the season, Real Salt Lake was once again unable to put together a second half that matched the performance level of the first 45 minutes. 

Of the 16 goals conceded by RSL this season, 12 have come in the second half of play, often resulting in the dropping of points that could come back to haunt the team toward the end of the season.

“If our results were based off the first half this year, we might be at the top of the league,” Rusnak said. “The results that we have at halftime are great, but full-time they’re not good. We’ve got to concentrate a full 90 minutes and make sure that when we take the lead, we don’t always let the other team come back into the game.”

Real Salt Lake will look to buck the trend of second-half struggles Saturday night when the Colorado Rapids come to town for the Rocky Mountain Cup rivalry game.