Real Salt Lake played a comprehensive 90 minutes tonight as they cruised to a 4-0 victory past the Eastern Conference leaders Philadelphia Union, thanks to an impressive two goals and an assist from Jefferson Savarino.
Mike Petke fielded a nearly full-strength lineup tonight as the only major absences saw Nedum Onuoha and Sam Johnson kept out with injuries. Damir Kreilach got the start at the top of the attack and nearly had himself a goal early in the game off a beautiful cross into the box, but the shot ultimately went wide and behind for a corner kick.
Real Salt Lake found the opening goal in the 23rd minute thanks to a beautiful goal from Jefferson Savarino. Aaron Herrera sent a long ball over the top to find a streaking Sava, who brought the ball down with ease, cut past Philly’s last defender and sent it in far post to find the back of the net, putting the home side up 1-0 in the first half.
While it seemed that Kreilach was lucky to stay on the field after a reckless challenge from behind, RSL went into the halftime break up a goal and enjoying the lion’s share of possession with 59%, while outshooting the visitors 4-2 overall. Between long balls and fancy footwork, the first half saw some promising attacking play from the home side.
RSL came within inches of doubling their lead in the 54th minute when a corner kick from Bofo found Justen Glad’s head. The ball went sailing straight down toward net, but Philly ‘keeper Andre Blake made a save with his knee to keep the ball out and sent it back into play, keeping the score at 1-0.
Savarino banged in another one in the 72nd minute to push RSL’s lead to 2-0, all but securing the victory. Beckerman pushed a pass out to Sava on the right side of the box and he let a rocket rip toward the far post from at least 25 yards out. The ball sailed easily past Blake and into the top corner of the net to give Sava the brace.
A scary moment just minutes later as Philadelphia put one in the back of the net thanks to Wooten, but the ref went to video review after speaking with his VAR. He ultimately called the goal back due to the ball crossing out of bounds before the goal was scored, keeping RSL’s lead at 2-0.
The 81st minute saw another goal thanks to a beautiful setup from none other than Savarino, who chased down a Philly defender, stole the ball, and backheeled it to a wide open Rusnak who sent a shot in from outside the 18 and easily past Blake to increase the lead to 3-0.
Kreilach put another one in the back of the net from a great ball in by Everton Luis in the 89th minute but was called back for offside. After another video review, the call was overturned and the goal stood, putting RSL’s lead up to a commanding 4-0 with just minutes left to play.
The win puts RSL back above the playoff line and into 6th place with 29 points, leapfrogging Houston and FC Dallas in what’s becoming an incredibly tight race at the middle of the table.