Real Salt Lake, with a makeshift lineup, cruised to a 4-1 win over the New England Revolution tonight in a virtual do-or-die game with major playoff implications on the line. With this win, all RSL has to do is win in Portland on Sunday and they’ll secure their spot in the playoffs.
RSL wasted no time in opening the scoring as Nick Besler grabbed his first-ever MLS goal in the fourth minute of play. A long cross in from Corey Baird found its way to his feet and he easily slotted it in to put the home side up 1-0 early in the game.
It got even better for RSL in the 14th minute when Bofo Saucedo doubled the lead. Baird again put a cross into the box, and after a bounce or two it found its way to Bofo’s feet near the top of the box. He let a shot rip that rolled past defenders in the box and into the back of the net, extending RSL’s lead to 2-0.
Baird finally got one of his own in the 29th minute when he collected the ball on a counter attack breakaway. He dribbled right between two Revs defenders and sent a ground ball in that rolled right past NE ‘keeper Brad Knighton, good for 3-0 up on the visitors.
Just four minutes later, newcomer Nedum Onuoha ended up pulling down Revs striker Teal Bunbury in the box which Jair Marrufo called for a penalty kick. Wouldn’t you know it, Nick Rimando got a hand to Bunbury’s PK and sent it out over the goal for a corner kick, keeping a clean sheet for the home side this far.
RSL went into the half carrying that 3-0 lead, in a best-case scenario which wouldn’t even need the services of Rusnak, Plata, or Savarino who didn’t start the game due to just returning from international duty.
The second half started off no differently, with Damir Kreilach heading in his own ball. Onuoha got a head to the ball off a corner, which ended up going right to Kreilach who headed it home. The AR raised his flag for offside and was initially called by Marrufo. However, after a video review, the call was reversed and RSL was awarded the fourth goal as they cruised to a 4-0 lead.
Unfortunately, the Revs pulled one back in the 68th minute thanks to a header from the center of the box by Kelyn Rowe.
It wouldn’t be nearly enough for New England though, as RSL rolled to a commanding 4-1 win in the end.
RSL heads to Portland to take on the Timbers in the last game of the season on Sunday. With a win, they will clinch their playoff spot. A loss or a draw will need some help from in the form of the LA Galaxy dropping at least one of their last two games of the season.