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MLS is Back: Real Salt Lake blanks lackluster Rapids

The Colorado Rapids started the 2020 MLS season in impressive fashion, but they did not start the MLS is Back Tournament in the same way.

All thanks to their chief rival.

Goals on each side of halftime pushed Real Salt Lake past a flat Rapids side by a 2-0 mark in their MLS is Back Tournament opener on Sunday. Albert Rusnak bagged the opener for RSL in the 27th minute of Group D affair at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, and Damir Kreilach added the insurance tally in the 76th.

Rusnak could have bagged a brace minutes before Kreilach tallied, but the Slovak attacker’s penalty kick in the 72nd minute was saved by Rapids goalkeeper Clint Irwin.

Real Salt Lake was the more dangerous side on the night, and nearly opened the scoring six minutes in. Corey Baird found himself in on goal after playing a nice 1-2 with Kreilach, only to be denied by the crossbar on the ensuing shot.

Rusnak made no mistake on his chance before the half-hour, collecting a loose ball in the 18-yard box and burying it past Irwin. Kreilach’s second-half tally, meanwhile, came on a precise cross-body shot from just outside the penalty area that found the bottom left corner.

The Rapids had very few real chances to score in the latest Rocky Mountain Cup clash, with Kellyn Acosta’s flubbed header in the closing 45 minutes serving as one of their only notable opportunities.

RSL is set to play again on Friday with a match against Minnesota United. The Rapids are also set to compete that day, taking on Sporting Kansas City.

Man of the Match

Damir Kreilach: He may not have scored the winner, but the attacking midfielder was active and dangerous throughout the match. He set up Corey Baird for a glorious chance early on, and capped his solid shift with a well-taken goal from outside the penalty area in the second half.

Moment of the Match

Setting the tone: Albert Rusnak rewarded RSL and provided the winner before the half-hour mark, pouncing on a loose ball in the penalty area and firing it past Irwin and through the legs of Drew Moor.

Match to Forget

Lalas Abubakar: The centerback had a game to forget, struggling with his decision-making and positioning throughout much of the match. He was lucky his poor clearance attempt on a 21st-minute cross did not lead to a Douglas Martinez goal, and was fortunate that Irwin bailed him out again on the penalty that Abubakar was largely responsible for by misreading a back pass.

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