By TYLER GRAY
Sandy, Utah – With three members of Real Salt Lake’s starting lineup missing on World Cup duty, last week’s RSL hero showed up again to stymie the Colorado Rapids and secure all three points.
RSL continued their 11-game unbeaten run with a 2-1 victory over the rival Rapids on Saturday night at Rio Tinto Stadium. RSL midfielder Javier Morales contributed a goal and an assist and made sure that the league knew the home side wasn’t missing all of their stars.
The Argentine scored his second penalty kick goal in as many matches early in the second half after forward Devon Sandoval was taken down from behind inside the Rapids’ box.
RSL got on the board midway through the first half as a well-worked sequence eventually fell to the feet of Joao Plata in the 23rd minute. The resurgent Plata took a smart touch towards goal and tucked a low shot inside the far post.
In the 51st minute, Sandoval was taken down in the box and Morales stepped to the spot for the penalty kick. Morales executed his signature stutter-steps but Colorado goalkeeper Clint Irwin didn’t bite. Morales wasn’t phased, however, and blasted the shot into the upper right-hand corner with the inside of his foot.
The Rapids pulled one back in the 83rd minute when captain Drew Moor found himself unmarked in the box. Moor crouched low and headed a corner kick past RSL goalkeeper Jeff Attinella and into the net.
The Rapids gave RSL a scare in the final minutes of the game, forcing some uncharacteristically sloppy play from the usually disciplined side. RSL played out of sorts during stoppage time and were lucky to survive the final onslaught from their visiting rivals.
Three points are three points, however, and RSL will take them anyway they can, but head coach, Jeff Cassar has yet to muster a solid 90-minute performance from his team all year.