This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Sandy • Ten minutes after Real Salt Lake's unbeaten start to 2016 extended through its first six matches, Justen Glad took to Twitter to commemorate the 1-0 win. The 19-year-old center back thanked goalkeeper Nick Rimando in his tweet and followed it up with an appropriate hashtag of "#3pts."
The young defender acknowledged some of the struggles he had against Vancouver. Hence, the tweet. Thanking Rimando was due to his save in the 50th minute when Glad was dispossessed deep in RSL territory by Octavio Rivero, which led to Rimando needing to make a point-blank save on Nicolas Mezquida to keep it 0-0 at the time.
Glad's future is undoubtedly bright, but with consistent minutes will come growing pains and the kind of mistakes that need attention. But his inclusion along the back line has played a major role in RSL notching back-to-back shutouts at home. The lone goal RSL's conceded in a Glad start in 2016? The late penalty kick awarded to Sporting Kansas City, in which the foul actually occurred outside the box.
"He's learning from experience and he's getting better and he's making some mistakes and then reacting well from them and then doing some fantastic things," RSL coach Jeff Cassar said.
In RSL's 4-0-2 start to the year, Glad has already made half as many league starts as he did in 2015. In that match at Sporting KC, his first start of the season was also memorable, as he buried a header off a free kick for the first of his MLS career and a 1-0 lead for RSL.
"If you're playing and you're playing well, your confidence is going to go up, you might start doing things you wouldn't normally do in practice," Glad said. "That's just part of the game."
Cassar reiterated Tuesday that the job isn't Glad's just yet. Jamison Olave is still very much in the mix moving forward.
"It's still a battle, absolutely," Cassar said. "He can't rest."
Glad knows it, too.
"I think it's healthy for the environment," he said. "When you got people who are pushing each other to play their best and work as hard as they can, it's going to make everybody better."
Giovani Dos Santos found his footing last week, just in time for RSL's visit to the StubHub Center Saturday evening in Carson, Calif. The L.A. Galaxy and Mexican national team star scored two goals and assisted on another in the Galaxy's 4-1 rout at Houston on Friday.
As L.A. adjusts to life without Robbie Keane (knee surgery) for the time being, it will rely on Dos Santos to be the primary creator. Cassar said Dos Santos was much more effective in the central midfield role in Houston.
"He has freedom to go a lot of different places, so you have to know where he's at at all times," Cassar said.
Center back Aaron Maund said the back line will have its hands full this weekend in Southern California.
"As a defense, you're just trying to figure out what he's going to do," Maund said of Dos Santos. "He can do anything."
Javier Morales (rib fracture) and Sunday Stephen (ankle sprain) trained Tuesday at America First Field. Morales is still dealing with the lingering effects of the rib fracture suffered in Week 1 on March 6. The 36-year-old picked up an illness last week and missed the Vancouver match.
Cassar said Morales is progressing, calling Tuesday's session "a positive day."
The ankle injury "Sunny" suffered against Colorado on April 9 is taking a bit longer. The Nigerian midfielder is still dealing with pain, but Cassar expects him to return to full training sometime this week.
"We actually thought he was doing a little bit better last week and he came up really sore on Friday," Cassar said. "Today was a step in the right direction, but hopefully he'll be in [training] more."
Real Salt Lake at L.A. Galaxy
P Saturday, 8:30 p.m. MDT
TV • KMYU