Real Salt Lake have New England’s number, at least at home.
RSL drubbed the Revs 6-0 last season at Rio Tinto, with all six goals coming in the second half. They nearly matched that score with a 5-0 win on Friday over a New England team that came limping into town with a number of injuries. The five-goal effort is the most by any team in the league this season, and the second-most in Real Salt Lake’s history, behind last year’s outburst.
WATCH: FULL MATCH HIGHLIGHTS
On the offensive side of the ball, Real Salt Lake was extremely creative with the goals coming in a variety of fashions: a header off of a free kick, a back heel from a pass in front of the goal, a one-touch shot off of a cross, and two one-on-one plays from their top-line forwards.
And all after a scoreless draw against San Jose last week in which coach Jason Kreis called his team “complacent”. Oh what a difference a week makes, as Kreis summarized this game simply: “I don’t think you could ask for much more.”
“I think a lot of it has to do with the first goal,” Kreis said. “It really changes things. From there on a lot of things are unlocked.”
That first goal came from striker Fabian Espindola, who picked up a yellow card after an early altercation with Cory Gibbs in front of goal. But he made up for it with a wonderful individual effort in the 27th minute that turned the game around.
“He got frustrated early on in the match, and the confrontations he was having with Cory Gibbs. I was real close to pulling him out to protect him because I’ve seen him do it before where he picks up a yellow card and then things kind of fall apart,” Kreis said. “And then he scores a goal. And from there…he was fantastic.”
In fact, all three of RSL’s strikers who saw the pitch on Friday were fantastic. Alvaro Saborio had the brace, and his second goal was the prettiest of the night. He received a low square ball played by Javier Morales and then swept it into the net with the back of his right heel.
Returning US national team player Robbie Findley also created several chances off the bench. In the 85th minute he chased down a ball played into space, and carried it into the penalty area. He was able to get an open look, and put it away.
“I’ve been in a little bit of a slump and so it was good to get it,” Findley said.
But the real story here may be the defensive effort. Nick Rimando was able to record his 100th career MLS victory, a feat that only four other MLS ‘keepers have accomplished.
In addition, Rimando’s clean sheet pushed his shutout streak to 408 minutes, a new franchise record and also the longest in the league this season.
“It feels good. I don’t get it if I’m not with a club like this,” Rimando said.