Jefferson Savarino - Real Salt Lake - Celebrates Goal
USA TODAY Sports

A "marked man" in 2018, Jefferson Savarino rising above to power RSL's push

HERRIMAN, Utah – The month of August has been a good one for Real Salt Lake’s Jefferson Savarino.

Savarino started the month by assisting on both goals in a 2-1 win over the Chicago Fire and has closed out the month with two goals and two assists in his past two games, both big road wins for the Claret-and-Cobalt.

After a stellar half-season debut in Salt Lake last year, in the early stages of this season Savarino didn’t produce goals and assists at the same rate he had in 2017, despite starting in almost every game for RSL.

“I think it’s due to the patience I’ve had in all the matches,” Savarino said of finally breaking through this month. “In the early games [goals and assists] were probably very regular and thanks to God now they have come and I have been enjoying it.”

His play has earned him consecutive spots on the MLS Team of the Week as a turn in the Audi Player Index spotlight – and helped RSL rack up a 3-1-1 record in August.

The wait has been worth it.

“It was very evident early on this year that he was a marked man and was being fouled repetitively, and that’s a sign of respect for him because of how dangerous he his,” RSL head coach Mike Petke said. “But even through all that he was playing really good soccer. He’s been doing all the stuff he needed to do all year.”

Whether he’s scoring or not, Savarino can influence a lot from his position on the right wing. He provides excellent service and combines with central attacking players as well as outside backs to either open up space for a cross, or get into the opposition’s penalty box for a look at goal.

Where he’s best, though, is opening space in transition and getting past defenders, which Petke credits as a major factor in the run of good form Salt Lake are currently on.

“Our ability to play out of transition has gotten so much better,” Petke said. “We have always been a good transition team, but it’s gotten a lot better over the last month.”

Savarino put the finishing touches on his chances against Colorado last Saturday and exemplifies what will be needed to push RSL into the MLS Cup Playoffs.

“He helped a lot in the Houston game with his play and he was rewarded against Colorado with the two goals and assist,” playmaker Albert Rusnak said. “If we can get attacking players to get into that kind of form toward the end of the season, it’s only going to help us as a team.”