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Sandy • It wasn't until Albert Rusnák started his walk toward the the cameras and microphones after practice on Tuesday that Real Salt Lake's Designated Player was informed his momentous performance in a blizzard was recognized.
The 22-year-old midfielder was named MLS Player of the Week on Tuesday a first for the club since Chris Schuler in 2014.
"None of us are playing for that, to get that award," Rusnák said. "If I can help the team with a goal and two assists and be the Player of the Week, then that's good."
No arguing there.
When the cold spring rain turned to a snowstorm, the Slovakian showed even in the most inclement of conditions, his upside as a young attacking midfielder can be tapped into. Rusnák said his breakout game came in part to the way new RSL coach Mike Petke wants to play.
"I'm higher up the field," Rusnák said. "I'm getting more of the balls, and we are pressing as a team also higher up the field, so that allows not just me, but all the attacking players to receive the balls closer to the opposition's goal. I'm an attacking player, so that suits my style."
Petke quipped after training Tuesday that he doesn't "put much stock in MLS Player of the Week." One of the primary goals he had when taking over was to find a way to get Rusnák more involved.
"It's on us, just as much as him, to get him the ball and when he gets the ball, he can do his magic," Petke said. "I think we got him the ball a heck of a lot more this game than we have [going back] to the start of the season. And that's important."
Rocky Mountain return
As RSL preps for its first match of the year this Saturday against regional rivals Colorado, Petke can vouch for life on the other side of it.
From 2005 to 2008, Petke was a center back for the Rapids. He said priority No. 1 is going for the win, and getting a leg up on the Rocky Mountain Cup comes after.
"I remember winning it and losing it," he said, "and I know the feeling of both."
RSL midfielder Kyle Beckerman echoed Petke.
"Really it's just any other game for us," Beckerman said. "I know it means a little bit more to our fans with the trophy part of it, but for us, it's about getting three points and just keep trying to improve in the season."
First for everything
Beckerman has spent the past 17 years of his professional career in the Rockies, and Saturday's whiteout win was something new for him in 440 career appearances with RSL and the Colorado Rapids.
"No game like that," he said. "It was pretty crazy."