Never had a Salt Lake squad so thoroughly dominated an opponent the way Real Salt Lake dominated D.C. last Saturday in its 4-0 win. The attack rolled, the defense stifled and Salt Lake fans started talking playoffs in April.
SBI Correspondent Scott McAllister caught some of the good vibes after taking in the history victory. Here is his take on the game that has RSL fans thinking this team just might be able to do something good this season:
Historic win has Real Salt Lake buzzing
By Scott McAllister
I love when the cynic in me is wrong. Not only did Real Salt Lake avoid losing, they did so in historic fashion. Never before had RSL beaten anyone by four goals. Never before had they scored that many at home. As a supporter, it doesn’t get much better than this in a single match.
Salt Lake seemed to have every aspect of the game covered against D.C. United on Saturday night. Much like they have done in their previous two matches this season, RSL took care of the ball and created chances in the attacking third. The difference in this match is that those chances were converted into goals.
Let’s be honest, in the match against Chicago, Salt Lake may have outshot the Fire 17-8 but many of those were from outside the area. The eight that were actually on frame were usually directed right at Chicago goalkeeper Jon Busch. That wasn’t the case against United.
When Kyle Beckerman was put through on a slick pass from Dema Kovalenko, he looked up, saw that Jose Carvallo was already moving to his right, then coolly put it just to the goalkeeper’s left – behind his momentum. On the second goal, when Fabian Espindola stroked in a volley off a wild lob from Kovalenko, RSL probably benefitted from facing a second string goalkeeper. Carvallo, who was in place of a resting Zach Wells, got a hand on it, but the shot from Espindola beat him the same as Beckerman’s – behind his momentum.
Salt Lake was just playing smarter in front of goal than in their previous outings. Whebn Robbie Findley brought down the header from Nat Borchers inside the area, with his back to goal, more than a few thought he was going to spin to his right and break for goal. Instead, Findley dropped a simple pass back for Beckerman to blast into the far side-netting.
It’s those signs of unselfish play coupled with devastating finishing that are characteristic of great performances. The great teams are the ones who can do that consistently.
On the other side of the ball, the RSL defense was stifling. D.C. was rarely able to mount much of an attack. The only breakdown, at least to my memory, came in the late stages of the first half when Devon McTavish got inside the corner of the area and uncorked a shot that required a diving save from Nick Rimando. The shot itself was relatively harmless, but it was United’s string of passes building up to it that was concerning. Overall, the night was a just reward for a defense that has played well this season, but who has been handed the short end of the lucky stick on previous occasions.
The next test is for RSL to take it’s success on the road, as they travel north to face a struggling Toronto FC Saturday in their home opener. Salt Lake fans know the pains of TFC supporters all too well. The hunger from both sides should make for an intense and entertaining match. However, if Salt Lake can keep it’s scoring touch it should be another good day for soccer fans in Utah.