This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
What doesn't end you makes you stronger.
That was the consensus from Real Salt Lake throughout the most tumultuous week the franchise had seen in several years. It remained that way Saturday evening in suburban New York City, where a severely-depleted RSL team went to one of the most difficult places in Major League Soccer to play and earned itself a point.
Last Monday, RSL fired head coach Jeff Cassar, which only made matters more difficult for a roster dealing with a bevy of injuries, suspensions and national-team call-ups. RSL (0-2-2, two points) left Red Bull Arena with a point in its pocket following a 0-0 draw.
"Overall it was just a positive having gone through a tough week like that," forward Yura Movsisyan said.
The rollercoaster start to 2017 rolls on.
RSL still hasn't won since last August and has scored one goal in four matches. Yet after that kind of week, the road result against the New York Red Bulls is close to a win. Missing nine players Saturday seven of which had already started games this year RSL didn't fold up shop. The Red Bulls pressed late, and if not for heroics from No. 2 goalkeeper Matt VanOekel in his RSL debut, the emotional week could've been a bit more somber.
"This is not an easy place to come play," said interim head coach Daryl Shore, "and they're not an easy team to play against."
The intrigue now is how RSL fuses back together as the injury list shortens, as Kyle Beckerman returns from suspension, and new playmaker Albert Rusnák and goalkeeper Nick Rimando return from international duty.
Such a trying start to a year has forced the depths of the RSL roster to not only be pressed into action, but perform. Homegrown midfielder Jose Hernandez became the seventh player to make his RSL debut in 2017. Center back Aaron Maund made his first start since suffering a season-ending injury last August. Rookies Brooks Lennon and Justin Schmidt have showcased zero jitters when called upon to start.
Already this season, 23 of the 27 players on the RSL first-team roster have seen minutes. Justen Glad, who according to RSL general manager Craig Waibel remains out for at least the next few weeks with a knee issue, is the lone player not to make his 2017 debut due to injury.
Through four matches this season, RSL has already had 16 games total missed due to injury. It's unclear where attacking starters such as Joao Plata (hip) and Jordan Allen (quad) stand as RSL turns the page toward prepping for expansion franchise Minnesota United. The replacements, Lennon and Sebastian Saucedo, have been impressive as the wide forwards the last two outings. Saucedo, a Park City native, pinged a shot off the post Saturday against New York.
Perhaps the perfect recipe for the stagnant RSL attack is a date with Minnesota. The first-year franchise has conceded 18 goals in four games and is currently sporting a minus-12 goal differential.