FRISCO, Texas – Real Salt Lake (11-5-4, 37 points, West #1) extended its club-record unbeaten streak to 11 games across all competitions on Saturday night, overcoming five key absences to beat FC Dallas (8-5-7-, 31 points, West #2) 3-0 at FC Dallas Stadium.
The victory – the team’s first ever in Texas and 100th in MLS regular season play – extends RSL’s lead at the top of the Supporters’ Shield standings, putting the Claret-and-Cobalt four points ahead of second-place Sporting Kansas City. RSL now has a six point lead in the Western Conference race over second-place sides FCD and the Portland Timbers. The Utah side now has the most points per game of any team in the league.
Unfortunately, the Claret-and-Cobalt didn’t escape the match unscathed, as GK Josh Saunders had to leave the match with a left LCL sprain early in the second half. Normal third-string GK Jeff Attinella performed very well in relief of Saunders, making three big saves and keeping the clean-sheet in his MLS debut.
With Captain Kyle Beckerman, DF Tony Beltran, GK Nick Rimando and FW Alvaro Saborio all unavailable due to international duty and DF Lovel Palmer suspended for the match, RSL Head Coach Jason Kreis ran out an unfamiliar looking lineup, starting the game in a seldom-used 4-5-1 formation. The Claret-and-Cobalt took a while to adapt to the tactical switch, beginning the game on the back foot and nearly conceding on several occasions in the opening 30 minutes.
Dallas’s first chance came in the sixth minute. MF Fabian Castillo had the look, getting loose on the right wing before cutting into the box and ripping a left-footer that looked ticketed for the far post off of FCD FW Kenny Cooper.
Castillo had another opportunity five minutes later. The Colombian attacker again raced down the right side, ripping a shot on frame that Saunders parried over the bar.
Cooper missed a golden chance in the 19th minute. Dallas MF Jackson got free in the right side of the box near the end line, squaring a low cross into Cooper inside the six. Fortunately for RSL, the big striker couldn’t put his shot anywhere near the target, popping it well wide of the mark.
Cooper had another big miss in the 27th minute. Castillo again got free in the right side, cutting a cross to the middle that Cooper volleyed wide from six yards out.
RSL started taking more initiative following Cooper’s second miss, registering half chances in the 35th and 36th minutes before taking the lead with a quick counterattack in the 39th. The play began deep in RSL’s end when FCD DF Jair Benitez drilled a 25-yard free kick into the RSL wall. The Claret-and-Cobalt quickly broke, with MF Javier Morales eventually picking up the ball on the left flank. The Argentine playmaker dribbled into the area and brilliantly shot through the legs of Dallas DF Zach Loyd and inside the far post from 15 yards to give RSL the lead.
Saunders initially suffered his injury in the 41st minute, landing awkwardly and twisting his left knee after coming off his line to attempt to punch out a cross. He immediately went down but continued playing after receiving treatment. He started the second half in net but went down again in the 49th minute after taking a goal kick, eventually subbing off for Attinella in the 51st.
Attinella had his first significant action in the 64th minute. Castillo got in yet again, dribbling into a dangerous position in the left side of the box. He looked to be in a good position to shoot, but Attinella was quick off his line, stripping the ball away with a sliding challenge.
RSL gave Attinella an insurance goal in the 79th minute, when MF Ned Grabavoy finished a fine move to double the Claret-and-Cobalt’s advantage. Morales started the play, slipping DF Abdoulie Mansally in on the left flank. Mansally collected the ball and smartly cut a pass back to the top of the box for Grabavoy, who took a touch and slammed a half volley into the top-right corner from just beyond the spot.
Attinella came up with a huge stop in the 88th minute. Castillo picked up a loose ball on the right edge of the area, hitting a first time cross to substitute MF Ramon Nuñez just outside the six. Nuñez snapped a solid header that looked ticketed for the roof of the net, but Attinella reacted quickly, pawing the attempt up and over the bar.
Substitute FW Olmes Garcia made it 3-0 in the 90th minute. Morales again started the play, playing MF Luis Gil through in the right side of the box. Gil lofted a cross to the middle, where FW Joao Plata fortuitously whiffed an attempted volley to allow the ball to slip to the back post to Garcia, who slotted a half volley home from 12 yards out.
Real Salt Lake will return to action next Saturday, July 20, when it will host Eastern Conference leaders Sporting Kansas City at 8:00 p.m. MT at Rio Tinto Stadium. Next Saturday’s match will be followed by postgame fireworks in celebration of Pioneer Day.
Real Salt Lake Match Notes – RSL 3-0 DAL
- Saturday’s victory was RSL’s 100th MLS regular season win.
- Saturday’s win extends RSL’s unbeaten streak to 11 games across all competitions. The Claret-and-Cobalt is 9-0-2 in that stretch, outscoring its opposition 30-10 over the period. The Utah side continues to sit atop the MLS and Western Conference tables and now has the best points per game mark in the league with 1.85 points per match.
- Saturday’s win was RSL’s first ever in Texas. The Claret-and-Cobalt was winless in 22 previous games across all competitions in the Lone Star State.
- RSL GK Jeff Attinella made his MLS debut on Saturday, coming on in the 51st minute for injured GK Josh Saunders. Attinella – only in the 18 because regular RSL GK Nick Rimando is unavailable on international duty – made three saves against Dallas, including a huge stop in the 87th minute. The 24-year-old Attinella joined RSL this offseason after spending the last two years with the NASL’s Tampa Bay Rowdies.
- RSL GK Josh Saunders had to leave Saturday’s match in the 51st minute due to a left LCL sprain. Saunders initially suffered the injury in the 41st minute, continuing to play until the 49th, when he re-injured the knee. Saunders will be further evaluated on Monday in Salt Lake City.
- Real Salt Lake MF Javier Morales – who had a goal and two assists on Saturday – now has five goals and eight assists in MLS play this year. Morales leads the Claret-and-Cobalt in assists and is tied for the team lead in goals with FW Olmes Garcia. He now has three goals and six assists in his last six MLS matches. The Argentine playmaker’s eight assists are tied with LA’s Robbie Keane for second in the league, trailing only Philadelphia’s Sebastien Le Toux, who has nine helpers on the year.
REAL SALT LAKE 3–0 FC DALLAS
SATURDAY, JULY 13, 2013
FC DALLAS STADIUM
Goals by Period 1 2 F
Real Salt Lake 1 2 3
FC Dallas 0 0 0
RSL – Javier Morales – 39’
RSL – Ned Grabavoy (Abdoulie Mansally, Javier Morales) – 79’
RSL – Olmes Garcia (Luis Gil, Javier Morales) – 90’
DAL – Stephen Keel (Foul; Yellow) – 45’+
RSL – Yordany Alvarez (Foul; Yellow) – 47’
DAL – Fabian Castillo (Foul; Yellow) – 90’+
Real Salt Lake (4-2-3-1) – Josh Saunders (Jeff Attinella, 51’); Chris Wingert, Nat Borchers, Carlos Salcedo, Abdoulie Mansally; Yordany Alvarez, Ned Grabavoy; Luis Gil, Javier Morales (C), Sebastian Velasquez (Joao Plata, 61’); Robbie Findley (Olmes Garcia, 70’)
Substitutes Not Used: Aaron Maund, Enzo Martinez, Khari Stephenson, Devon Sandoval
FC Dallas (4-2-3-1) – Raul Fernandez; Zach Loyd, Matt Hedges, Stephen Keel, Jair Benitez; Je-Vaughn Watson (David Ferreira, 66’), Andrew Jacobson; Jackson (Ramon Nuñez, 46’), Michel, Fabian Castillo; Kenny Cooper (Eric Hassli, 59’)
Substitutes Not Used: Chris Seitz (GK), London Woodberry, Kellyn Acosta, George John
Referee: Drew Fischer
Referee's Assistants: Ian Anderson, Adam Garner
4th Official: Matthew Foerster