This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated.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.
Sandy • After starting 27 games last season, Justen Glad entered Saturday night's matchup against Minnesota United with no playing time this season. But in his season debut, the 20-year-old defender made his presence felt in Real Salt Lake's 1-0 victory.
"It's amazing [to be back]," said Glad. "Obviously it was tough watching in [South] Korea and before that when I was injured. It was tough not being able to contribute, but I think this is the second half of the season and it's all uphill from here."
Real Salt Lake had control of the game from the first kick, with a big thanks to the RSL defense, which limited Minnesota to five shots, one of which was on goal.
"I think we were really defensively organized and that made it easy," Glad said. "When they were taking dives or runs or crossing the back line, everyone knew what was going on, and we could shift with that player and it didn't cause any problems."
Glad's performance included the things that don't show up on the stat sheet providing pressure on every play and keeping the ball out of the box.
He had multiple stops, including one play in the 41st minute when Glad slid in to prevent Minnesota's Miguel Ibarra from opening up a play for Abu Danladi.
Glad had moments on the offensive end as well, managing to get a shot off a header from the left side of the box on a corner kick in the 37th minute.
He was also involved in the play that resulted in the game's lone goal. Glad managed to get a header off a corner kick in the 85th minute that was initially saved. However, after confusion from the players about whether the game had paused due to contact between Glad and Minnesota's Rasmus Schuller, RSL's Yura Movsisyan was able to poke the ball into the net.
Last season was considered a breakout season for Glad, in which he scored two goals. He was named to the 2016 Chipotle MLS Homegrown team and was also named RSL's defensive player of the year.
He missed the first half of this season due to injury and playing in the FIFA U-20 World Cup. Now that he is back, he is providing RSL with something that coach Mike Petke believes was missing during the season thus far.
"As young as he is, he calmed things down defensively for us. I think that is a little bit of a piece we were missing," said Petke. "He's comfortable on the ball and has those intangibles that I want in a center back out there. Reading the play and dropping back at the right time, stepping up at the right time, the kid has a very bright future."
While Glad is filling a hole for Real Salt Lake, he is not the immediate solution.
"He is not the missing link," Petke said. "... But I think that him, with the experience he has with the U-20s and how he played there, I think it was definitely a spark that we needed."