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RSL beats Vancouver 1-0 in difficult road test

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It was a hugely important win on turf for Real Salt Lake.

MLS: Real Salt Lake at Vancouver Whitecaps FC Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Real Salt Lake opened the scoring in the 28th minute, with Damir Kreilach rising for a headed goal from a Corey Baird cross. The goal came somewhat against the run of play, and it heralded a rush of opportunities for RSL — including a shot that touched off the post from Albert Rusnak and a skied shot from close range — and a somewhat difficult angle — for Jefferson Savarino.

The 69th minute brought a flurry from Vancouver Whitecaps, but a fingertip save from RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando pushed a shot onto his far post as RSL struggled to hold on to possession inside their own defensive third. Rusnak was particularly suspect with multiple giveaways during that period. On multiple occasions, Kyle Beckerman proved crucial, clearing the ball away from danger — though at one point he gave up a free kick in a difficult position, which led to yet another Vancouver opportunity.

RSL coach Freddy Juarez waited for the 80th minute to bring on his first substitutes, changing Albert Rusnak and Jefferson Savarino out for Kelyn Rowe and Brooks Lennon. In the 89th minute, he brought Marcelo Silva in for Corey Baird, looking to shut up shop and seal an important win.

With the win and a playoff berth already sealed, it looked near-certain that RSL would host a playoff