Real Salt Lake Midfielder Albert Rusnak Called to Slovakian National Team
SANDY, Utah - Real Salt Lake midfielder Albert RusnÃ¡k has been called in to the Slovakian National Team for a playoff match in UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifying against the Republic of Ireland on October 8 and 2020-21 UEFA Nations League matches against Scotland on October 11 and Israel on October 14. RusnÃ¡k will depart prior to RSL's match on Sunday against LAFC. According to current MLS safety protocols, RusnÃ¡k will remain quarantined for 10 days upon his return from Europe before returning to training.
"We are excited for Albert to get this opportunity in such big games for Slovakia. It speaks volumes about what he means for his national team," RSL General Manager Elliot Fall said. "Of course, we will miss him at RSL while he is away, but we are confident in our roster and we believe that that players we have will get the job done during Albert's time with the national team."
RusnÃ¡k, 26, has three goals and two assists in 13 matches this season, giving him 30 goals and 28 assists in 103 matches since coming to Real Salt Lake prior to the 2017 season. In his first MLS season, RusnÃ¡k finished fourth in the league with 14 assists and added seven goals to earn the club's Golden Boot and MVP honors. In 2018, he had 10 goals and seven assists, helping RSL reach the MLS Cup Playoffs, ousting LAFC in the Knockout Round. Last season, he had 10 goals and seven assists as RSL finished third in the Western Conference and again advanced to the Conference Semifinals.
"Representing my country at the international level is special," RusnÃ¡k said. "The knockout game against Ireland is all or nothing for us and with two more Nations League matches after that, against Scotland and Israel, it's a great opportunity for us."
Since his first appearance for Slovakia in 2016, RusnÃ¡k has five goals in 24 caps. Slovakia finished third in Group E of 2020 UEFA Euro qualifying at 4-1-3, advancing to a playoff with Ireland. The winner of the match will advance to the 2020 UEFA European Championships, scheduled to take place in June and July of 2021 after being delayed by a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. In UEFA Nations League B, Slovakia is fourth in Group 1 at 0-1-1 through the first two matches.
"We are happy for him that he's going," RSL Head Coach Freddy Juarez said. "We'd like to have him with us, but we understand the importance of the national team and we are happy for him that he can represent his country."
Real Salt Lake is currently eighth in the Western Conference standings at 4-4-5 (14 points) and faces LAFC on Sunday at Rio Tinto Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. MT with live coverage on KMYU, the KSL TV app and ESPN 700.
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