Real Salt Lake midfielder Ned Grabavoy may not get many headlines. In fact, he is probably the least heralded member of the vaunted RSL diamond. But that is to be expected playing with the likes of Javier Morales, Kyle Beckerman and Luis Gil.
Grabavoy made sure he grabbed some attention Sunday night, however, as he netted his first two goals of the season in a 4-1 win over Chivas USA. His opening goal came in only the fourth minute, and his tally in the 91st minute helped move Real into sole possession of second place in the Western Conference with 20 points.
“I thought it was a really, really bright start on our part, to take advantage of our first opportunity,” said coach Jason Kreis on a postgame TV interview. “Ned is a guy that has just been doing so much for us this beginning quarter of this season. (He’s a) guy that I feel, when you think about the stats that he has had over his years, I always think that he should have more goals than he does. So we’ve been challenging him with that over the past week or two. I’m really, really pleased to see him get two goals tonight, and especially that first one.”
Grabavoy’s goal came as he pressed forward from the midfield. Timing his run perfectly, Grabavoy beat the offside trap of Chivas’ back line and took a beautiful feed from Morales. Taking one touch, the veteran hit a quality, left-foot finish past ‘keeper Dan Kennedy into the net for the early lead.
“I think that when our forward makes the proper run outside, it forces the defense to tuck in to mark the other forward and it really exposes that space for that late midfield run — it was on tonight, obviously, not just for myself, but for the other guys as well,” said Grabavoy on his TV interview after the game. “I don’t think we played great, but once again, we created a bunch of chances. I still think we need to be a bit sharper in front of the goal, all of us.”
Grabavoy’s goals were only his ninth and 10th of his career, but he knows how important it is to put the ball in the net when the opportunity is there, something he felt didn’t happen in the team’s 3-2 loss at Montreal last weekend.
“When you get your chances, you got to punish them,” he said of capitalizing on the high-risk style Chivas USA employed. “We scored some big goals tonight to kind of change the game and really put the game away at the end. It was the difference, probably the difference between us not picking up three points on the road last week.”