SANDY — The kids can play.
That was the biggest take away from Real Salt Lake’s 2-1 loss to the L.A. Galaxy on Saturday — besides the obvious frustration with the officiating.
Brooks Lennon, 19, made his RSL debut starting on the right wing, and was a thorn in L.A.’s side for the opening 45 minutes. Sebastian Saucedo, 20, made his first start for RSL since 2015, and he was equally as dangerous down the left flank.
Both made their 2017 debuts because of injuries to Jordan Allen and Joao Plata, and if first impressions are any indicator, more playing time will definitely be in their future.
“I liked everything about what they did. You know, I think their work rate, their ability, their passion. And it also made Yura (Movsisyan’s) life a little bit easier when they are having to worry about two players that are going to go at them and stay hungry. So, I am really pleased with the experience,” said RSL coach Jeff Cassar.
Neither Lennon nor Saucedo seemed intimidated by the moment, both showing a ton of confidence to take players on whenever the opportunity arose.
Both also whipped a couple of dangerous balls into the box, with the two connecting in the third minute on a chance that Lennon ultimately put a few feet wide of the post.
“I thought they were phenomenal, honestly. You’ve got two runners who will run them down. I honestly enjoyed it a lot, and we had as a team high expectations for them, and I think that they delivered,” said Movsisyan.
“Every time they got the ball and looked to go forward they beat their player and that’s what you want from your wide players, and I think all of our wide players are just as good, and it’s good to have better competition for the starters or for the guys who are pushing for a place.”
Lennon and Saucedo were instrumental in leading the U.S. Under-20 National Team to the CONCACAF Championship earlier this month, and that confidence clearly carried over to their performance at Rio Tinto Stadium.
“Their confidence is sky high based on the way they performed for the national team. They did great down there and they’ve come back with the same mentality. They’ve done themselves proud tonight,” said Luke Mulholland. “I think everybody in the changing room encouraged them to express themselves and go at their defenders. I thought they did an exceptional job. I’m disappointed that we weren’t able to get three points for them.”
When Allen and Plata return to full strength, they will most likely reclaim their starting spot in Real Salt Lake’s lineup. When that happens, Lennon and Saucedo will revert back to a substitute role, but Cassar shouldn’t have any problem calling their number when the situation arises.