SANDY — Albert Rusnak had a goal and two assists in the second half during a snow storm and Real Salt Lake ended a 13-match winless run with a 3-0 victory over the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday night, giving new coach Mike Petke a win in his first MLS game.
Petke, promoted from USL affiliate Real Monarchs, replaced interim coach Daryl Shore, who coached two games after Jess Cassar was dismissed. Petke was asked what he would remember from his first game at the RSL helm.
“That my toes are frostbitten and I had to have my pants tumbled dried at halftime,” Petke said. “Little things I will remember. Oh, and the three-nothing win. I will remember that too.”
Salt Lake (1-3-2), which had three goals coming in, controlled Vancouver (1-3-1) with Nick Rimando making just two saves for his second shutout this season and 130th of his career.
“Second half was all about grit and heart and just desire,” Petke said. “Soccer goes out the window, I mean I am yelling like a lunatic from the sideline telling them to possess the ball and my coaches are looking at me like I have three heads. There was no way to play in that second half. No way, but they got the goals in the second half and it’s amazing.”
Rusnák notched his first goal in the 54th minute, taking a splendid long pass from Joao Plata as he made a run down the middle. Angling left into the box, Rusnak stopped abruptly and as the defender couldn’t stop, turned inside and calmly slotted the ball inside the near post.
“The earlier you score your first goal in the new league, in a new team, the pressure just drops a little bit off you,” Rusnák said. “I’m an attacking player so my job is to score goals and to also make assists. So I’m very glad I scored a goal today, my first goal and that I helped my team to win.”
Yura Movsisyan scored his third goal from almost the same spot 20 minutes later, going far post after Rusnak found him with a pass over the top. In the 78th, Luke Mulholland got his third off Rusnak’s corner.
“Usually I’m just chilling at the top of the box,” Mulholland said. “If anything gets knocked out to me I try and put it back into the danger area. I just felt like going in for it, and the ball was coming close towards me and the kid just kind of palmed it in my direction and I just tried to get whatever I could on it to try and redirect it back to goal and it ended up just being my knee, kneeing it back into the far corner. I’m delighted to get the goal, but more than happy to get three goals and a clean sheet in the first win of the season, so it feels good.”
It began snowing in the first half and the snow started sticking at halftime, prompting use of the orange ball. There were 17,069 fans at Rio Tinto Stadium.
In a back-and-forth first half, RSL edged the Whitecaps in shots taken, 11-4, but wasn’t able to get on the scoresheet before the halftime whistle blew.
“I come from a pretty cold country,” Rusnák said. “And winter gets really cold but these conditions today have definitely been the craziest that I have ever played in. The first half, the wind was freezing. Then the second half was like sticky snow that didn’t get away from the field. It made it difficult to play.”