SANDY, Utah — Real Salt Lake have their mojo back.
True, Saturday's 3-0 win over D.C. United came at home, where RSL are undefeated now in their last 20 matches. And sure, United do have the worst record in the entire league.
But for this RSL team, the win was crucial to overcoming the feelings that had creeped in following the disappointing results of the last couple of games, including a loss at Dallas and a draw with Chivas USA at home.
WATCH: Match Highlights
“I don’t think we’ve been playing our best soccer of late,” coach Jason Kreis said after the match. “A lot of times you find in this game that you get the result and all of the sudden the confidence is back, and you are on a roll again.”
One of the keys to Salt Lake's victory was the fact that they scored early for the first time in over two and a half months. Álvaro Saborío's 13th-minute goal marked the fourth time RSL have scored in the opening quarter-hour of a game this season. But it was the first time they have done so since May 13th, when they scored in the third minute against Houston.
“Often times that first goal can be what makes or breaks the game for you,” Kreis said. “Once we score that goal they’ve got to open up. And we’re pretty dangerous when teams open up against us.”
Such opening up is an opportunity for all of RSL's offensive weapons, but it is a golden chance for a speedster like Robbie Findley.
“I think it plays to everybody’s abilities, but especially Robbie,” midfielder Will Johnson said.
Findley showed that to be true in the 79th minute, when he ran into space behind the DC defense and stroked home the second RSL goal, which basically iced the match for the home side.
However, RSL were not done yet. Midfielder Nelson Gonzalez came on in the 88th minute, and in stoppage time chipped in over keeper Troy Perkins. It wasn't an easy finish, but the young Argentine's feathery touch was spot on.
“It was an amazing goal," Johnson said. "The finish is just world class. We see it all the time in practice. He has a wicked left foot."
According to Kreis, Gonzalez is a player that will be relied upon in coming weeks as the team begins a challenging stretch of games, including league matches and CONCACAF Champions League action.
“It was nice to be able to include him in the eighteen," Kreis said, "and really nice to be able to get him on the field tonight.”