CARSON, Calif. -- Ever since Real Salt Lake signed 20-year-old Jefferson Savarino on loan in May, there has been excitement not just about his talent but how he can combine with fellow young attacker Albert Rusnak.
In a 6-2 rout of the LA Galaxy on Tuesday, RSL head coach Mike Petke went with the combination of Savarino out on the wing and Rusnak playing the No. 10 role. The pairing paid off, as Savarino came through with a brace while Rusnak contributed a goal of his own. The 22-year-old Rusnak also took the corner kick that veteran Kyle Beckerman scored on just before the end of the first half.
“They’re both phenomenal players, and both relatively new to this league,” said Petke. “Obviously Rusnak has been here a little longer, Savarino just got here. We’ve been talking about the excitement of those two being on the field together, we’ve talked about them being centrally together, or one out wide - like we did tonight - and one centrally.
“The good thing is that now with guys of that quality, and [Joao] Plata, and a guy like Brooks Lennon -- though he’s young you have the quality he brings -- you have options, not only of who to play but where to play them. It was great to see those guys linking up. It was magic.”
That magic struck often on Tuesday. Rusnak was involved in both first-half goals, and he and Savarino were responsible for five of RSL's chances created in the match. Savarino’s play dribbling up the right sideline was also a great showcase for what he can do.
Still, his highlight reel moment came off a corner kick in the 72nd minute after Galaxy defenders were unable to clear the ball far enough. Savarino brought the ball down and hit a right-footed shot from deep that put away any hope LA had of a comeback.
“Ever since he came he’s a great player,” said Rusnak. “He’s young but he’s got much talent and potential. I understood him from Day 1. I think in his first game he set my goal up against New York City and just ever since then there’s been an understanding between us.
“While I was away he took my spot in the No. 10 and now he played on the side and I played in the 10. We were all over the field. I understand his play really well so it’s easier to combine on the field.”