RSL STAYS PERFECT WITH 2-0 VICTORY IN2012 HOME OPENER AGAINST NEW YORK
SANDY, Utah (Saturday, March 17, 2012) - For the eighth consecutive season, Real Salt Lake earned points in its home opener, handling the New York Red Bulls with a goal on either side of halftime to register a 2-0 win at Rio Tinto Stadium. Tonight's victory improves RSL to an all-time 4-0-4 mark in home openers, including a 3-0-1 record at Rio Tinto Stadium, failing to secure the full three points in Sandy only in the 2010 tilt against Seattle.
The win improved RSL to a perfect 2-0-0 mark with 6 points, one of four teams league-wide (RSL, Kansas City, Houston and Vancouver) to currently boast perfection. RSL owns a league-high five goals scored through two weeks, and joins Kansas City with an MLS-best +4 goal differential. A season ago, in the midst of CONCACAF preparation, RSL cruised to a 4-0-0 MLS mark out of the gates, the team's best-ever start.
more after the jump:
An entertaining first half saw significant one-way traffic in favor of Real Salt Lake, the attack featuring both of the starting strikers, FW Fabian Espindola and FW Paulo Jr., with feeds from MF Ned Grabavoy, MF Luis Gil and MF Sebastian Velasquez. After Paulo Jr. was whistled for a handball after being taken down on a controversial opportunity in the box by New York GK Ryan Meara in the 34th minute, the young Brazilian took a pass on the near-side touchline from Velasquez and spun the ball over the top to a surging Espindola, who calmly slammed the ball through Meara's legs from eight yards out to give RSL the 1-0 lead. That lead would not be relinquished, as Espindola's goal - his fifth in the last six games against New York, leading RSL to a 5-0-1 mark against the Red Bulls since May, 2009 - laid the foundation for three points.
In the 58th minute, Real Salt Lake would string together eight passes involving six different players to create the game's second goal. DF Chris Schuler won a ball a midfield, playing to Captain Kyle Beckerman. After a 1-2 with Beckerman and Velasquez, Paulo Jr. ended up with the ball at the corner of the penalty area, sliding Velasquez through into the box. The rookie from Spartanburg Methodist Junior College baited Meara and slotted a square ball to Espindola, whose shot was saved, only to see 18-year old Luis Gil - now in his third MLS season - slam home the rebound for the 2-0 lead. Gil has scored twice now in as many home games against New York, opening his MLS account last August against the Red Bulls.
Real Salt Lake Match Notes
- Real Salt Lake's team will see tonight's starters off on Sunday and Monday, while the rest of the squad will prepare for Tuesday's 11:00 a.m. MT reserve game at America First Field in Sandy against Sporting Kansas City.
- For only the second time in RSL's last 65 games, Head Coach Jason Kreis penciled in the same starting XI in back-to-back games [last occasions on 8/06 v NY (3-0 W) & 8/13 @ TOR (0-1 L)].
- Argentine FW Fabian Espindola scored his 28th regular-season goal with Real Salt Lake, placing him now just one behind Robbie Findley's all-time club lead of 29. Current FW Alvaro Saborio is not far behind, with 23 MLS goals in nearly half as many career games as Espindola and Findley.
- Veteran GK Nick Rimando shone in his 145th career game in an RSL uniform, notching career win 122 (3rd all-time, behind Hartman and Thornton) and all-time shutout number 88 (2nd behind Hartman), in 289 career MLS matches. The win was his 57th in an RSL kit, the clean sheet his 52nd.
- Tonight's match marked the RSL debut of MF Jonny Steele, a left-sided native of Northern Ireland whose entry in the 84th minute to relieve Velasquez gave the 26-year old former USL PRO MVP (2008) his first appearance in Major League Soccer.
- Both MF Javier Morales (R quadriceps strain) and Saborío (R knee surgery in offseason) were question marks heading into the opening week after rehabbing from injuries all preseason, but for the second consecutive game, the pair would come on as reinforcements with roughly 30 minutes remaining in the game, providing even more spark down the stretch for an already active RSL attack.
- Tonight's contest marked the 100th regular season start for DF Jamison Olave, who was his usual stout self alongside fellow center back Chris Schuler, the duo again showing well in the RSL XI in place of an injured Nat Borchers. With his 27-minute performance tonight, Morales has now hit the century mark in appearances.
- Real Salt Lake returns again to Rio Tinto Stadium next Saturday, March 24, welcoming 2005 MLS expansion brethren Chivas USA to Sandy in the team's first Utah-based match since last season's tumultuous affair, one that saw the horrific Morales ankle fracture / dislocation and the emotional return of long-time assistant coach Robin Fraser. The matchup between the sides is set for a normal 7:00 p.m. MT kickoff, while the festivities in Sandy will get underway at 5:00 p.m. with the opening of the Carnival Real pre-game festival on the stadium's East Lawn. Tickets are still available and can be purchased online at RealSaltLake.com.
REAL SALT LAKE 2 : 0 NEW YORK RED BULLS
SATURDAY, MARCH 17, 2012
RIO TINTO STADIUM - SANDY, UT
Goals by Period 1 2 F
Real Salt Lake 1 1 2
New York Red Bulls 0 0 0
RSL - Fabian Espíndola 2 (Paulo Jr. 1) 39
RSL - Luis Gil 1 (unassisted) 58
NY - Dane Richards (caution, reckless tackle) 14
RSL - Luis Gil (caution, foul from behind) 22
NY - Kenny Cooper (caution, professional foul) 72
NY - Markus Holgersson (caution, persistent infringement) 83
Real Salt Lake (4-1-3-2) -- Nick Rimando; Tony Beltran, Jamison Olave, Chris Schuler, Chris Wingert; Kyle Beckerman (c); Ned Grabavoy, Luis Gil (Javier Morales 63), Sebastian Velasquez (Jonny Steele 84); Paulo Junior (Alvaro Saborio 63), Fabian Espindola
New York Red Bulls (4-4-2) - Ryan Meara; Jan Gunnar Solli, Markus Holgersson, Stephen Keel, Roy Miller; Teemu Tainio (Mehdi Ballouchy 46), Victor Palsson (Kenny Cooper 46), Dax McCarty, Joel Lindpere; Dane Richards, Thierry Henry (c)
Referee: Hilario Grajeda
Referee's Assistants: Chris Strickland, Eric Proctor
4th Official: Tyler Ploeger
Time of Game: 2:09
Weather: Cloudy and 59 degrees
So there you have it just about everything you could want to know about the match. It was a great night, and now we have Chivas USA coming up next, the forecast for Saturday is nice 67 and sunny so get your tickets now and let's fill the stadium up early again.
OFF MY SOAPBOX