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Peak Utah: RSL thrives in the thundersnow, beats LAFC 3-0

Real Salt Lake beat LAFC in the club's home opener. What can we take from the win?

Peak Utah: RSL thrives in the thundersnow, beats LAFC 3-0

Mother nature showed up in full force to celebrate the arrival of the new “Peak Utah” kit, in a game where the weather was more or less also peak Utah.

Wind, thunder, snow… thundersnow?

It’s a bit tricky to identify what tangibles you can take from a match like this and actually apply to the knowledge bank as anything credible. In elements like these, something along the lines of “xDawg” probably takes on a more important role than anything the pre-game X’s and O’s had planned for. Still, there were 11 players for both teams (for most of the match), a glorious orange ball, and two goals on either side of the pitch. The result did matter, so what can we take from it?

The tactical highlight coming into this one was that Matt Crooks would be occupying the 10 spot from the start. Now three matches into the 4-2-3-1, it was probably about time to let him have a go in light of a few benign performances from Ruiz. Here I think we can gleam the most from the match, given that in the first 45, not only was the snow still somewhat manageable, but Crooks was actively involved in a number of plays going forward. While generally unsuccessful, he played quite a few risky through balls behind the opposition back line in search of a weak point. The one time he pulled it off to great success led to a Gómez goal that was barely called back for offsides. It’s worth noting that most of these attempts were intercepted beforehand, but it’s refreshing enough to see someone in that role looking for those killer balls often.

Speaking of Gómez though – wow.

The pessimistic view of things for Gómez is that Campos looked like he was playing on ice instead all night of snow, and that under normal circumstances, those long touch dribbles get picked off easily. For those that look on the bright side though, this match showed the kind of player RSL hoped Gómez might become, and should serve as a real injection of confidence to the struggling 21-year-old. Regardless of where you fall on that, his performance was arguably match winning on its own, given that all three goals were scored or provided from his foot.

A few other standouts from this one were Chicho, who nabbed a goal and assist to himself, and in very Chicho fashion, fought and screamed out passionately at any given opportunity. Eneli once again looked good in central midfield coming off of a high-water mark game in St Louis. Additionally, I think Hidalgo looked surprisingly good down the right flank – perhaps due to being a Kaysville native and likely playing in such “peak Utah” weather plenty growing up.

All in all, the team looked relatively strong throughout, while some of the back line struggled running backwards in the difficult conditions, it’s entirely understandable on the night. Does this mean RSL is a 3-0 better team than LAFC? One can dream, oh how I dream. What it does show however, is that the team was mentally up to the adversity of facing a tough team in tough conditions. For as much or as little as it resembled soccer at times, it was a contest between two groups, and the home team certainly showed the resolve and vigor to win, which absolutely counts for something.

That and that the orange ball buff is very real indeed, but we already kinda knew that one.

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