CARSON, Calif. — Fabian Espindola’s new contract with Real Salt Lake technically kicked in a few months ago.
But it began to pay dividends for the club on Saturday night, when RSL opened their 2012 campaign with an inspired come-from-behind 3-1 win over the MLS Cup winners, the LA Galaxy.
It was the first win for RSL away to the Galaxy since June 2009, one emphatically punctuated by “Fabi” with a thumping, victory-icing goal in the 85th minute.
“Fabi is a [damn] good player,” midfielder and fellow Argentine Javier Morales told MLSsoccer.com after the match. “We have to give him the ball all the time. Because one-v-one, I think Fabi is — is it correct? — unstoppable.”
Yes, it is correct — in both senses.
It wasn’t just the goal that showcased Espindola’s unstoppability on Saturday night. He was daring and relentless, darting into the gaps and driving at defenders one on one as often as possible.
He wreaked havoc on the Galaxy defensive flanks again and again. In particular, Espindola enjoyed himself on the left side, causing problems for LA’s right back, Sean Franklin, who received little defensive help from the midfielders in front of him.
“[Espnidola] is able to skin people and get that extra step,” RSL captain Kyle Beckerman told MLSsoccer.com. “He does awesome stuff for us. He skins people. He gets crosses in. He’s a pain in the neck for the other team.”
The LA win was just the first match. It is a long season. But if it is any indication, RSL were certainly correct to re-sign Espindola this offseason and give him a handsome raise.
“When he goes to the side and takes the right back or the left back one v one, I don’t think they can stop him,” Morales emphasized. “He’s that dangerous.”
Greg Lalas is editor in chief of MLSsoccer.com.