After four frustrating losses in a row, with four red cards in the process, Real Salt Lake are back in business.
The club defeated Orlando City SC 2-1 at home, giving Mike Petke's side a much-needed win for the first time in more than a month. Petke isn't getting carried away with the performance, though.
"Just because we won tonight does not give us any guarantees for next week," Petke said after the match. "I thought it was a gritty performance at times, I thought it was a very well-played performance by us sometimes, and I thought it was a bit nervous sometimes. But the end of the day, it’s three points."
“I feel very good scoring my first goal in the league," Johnson said."I’m so grateful and I’m so happy. First of all, I give thanks to the team and especially to Albert (Rusnak) who passed me the ball. I really appreciate it and it’s good to score a goal as a striker.”
GOAL: Sam Johnson opens his MLS account for an RSL lead
“If you look at the whole play and his goal and if I could use one snapshot of an example, that personifies what I want of my players," Petke said. "That's it. He makes a great run, he slips and falls down and get right back up and determined to continue to play. And he gets the reward out of it. That determination and he showed that not giving up and the excellent finish."
The victory was a sweet one for Donny Toia, who joined RSL this offseason by way of the Re-Entry Draft following two seasons with Orlando. How much of a factor did that play in Petke giving Toia his second start of the season?
“Probably less than 1%," Petke calculated. "But there is that little bit of percentage, of course. I've been traded three times in the league. And every time I played my former team I was up for it. I really wanted to be up for it. But I made mention weeks ago, this is not a Hollywood movie. It's not starting a guy who's going to become Rudy and we're going to carry him off the field. A lot went into that decision. But of course, there was a tiny bit in the back of your mind. I think he probably has something to prove against them.”
Next up for RSL is a match on Friday on the road against FC Cincinnati (7:30 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+ in US, DAZN in Canada). It's the start of a new season, according to Kreilach.
“Every one of us knows that we didn’t start very well," Kreilach said. "We want to just leave those negative things and those games behind us and to try to start a new season. Because of that, for us it was like home opener, first games. Three points are amazing.”