SANDY, Utah – Real Salt Lake (12-7-5, 41 points, West #1) moved back into sole possession of first-place in the MLS Supporters’ Shield race on Saturday night, getting a first half penalty kick goal from FW Alvaro Saborio to beat the Houston Dynamo (9-7-6, 33 points, East #5) 1-0 at Rio Tinto Stadium.
The Claret-and-Cobalt is now unbeaten in its last three matches across all competitions and winners of its last two. The Utah side is two points ahead of Sporting Kansas City in the Supporters’ Shield race and five points ahead of Vancouver Whitecaps FC in the Western Conference.
RSL controlled the match from the start, dominating possession from the opening whistle and putting Houston under a decent amount of pressure. The Dynamo did a good job of staying organized, however, and RSL didn’t have any clear cut chances until the 33rd minute, when FW Joao Plata hit the crossbar. The Ecuadorian attacker picked up a loose ball on the left side, using his first touch to slam a 25-yard right-footer past Houston GK Tally Hall and off the crossbar.
Real Salt Lake took the lead on a Saborio penalty kick in the 37th minute. FW Olmes Garcia earned the PK, getting undercut by Dynamo MF Adam Moffat while challenging for a loose ball at the top of the area. Saborio buried the ensuing spot kick, rolling his shot into the lower right corner after sending Hall the wrong way.
The script flipped somewhat in the second half, with Houston controlling more of the game as it searched for an equalizer. Unfortunately for the Dynamo, the RSL defense did a solid job of clamping down in the final third, staying organized and tackling effectively to prevent Houston from creating any rock solid chances.
Despite Houston’s pressure, RSL had the first good look of the second period, nearly doubling its advantage in the 76th minute. DF Tony Beltran lofted a cross from the right corner to the back post, where Saborio got on the end of it and headed a shot toward goal. The effort deflected off of substitute FW Devon Sandoval, who collected the rebound and flicked an attempt off of an onrushing Hall. Saborio had one last bite at the apple, running onto the loose ball and slamming a shot that Hall – who was now even farther off his line – blocked nicely.
Houston really turned the pressure on following RSL’s near miss, getting forward frequently and generating some decent set piece opportunities. But the Dynamo was no match for the Claret-and-Cobalt defense, which repeatedly turned away Houston’s attacks to record its first shutout since July 13.
Real Salt Lake will begin a two-game road trip next Saturday, when it will take on the LA Galaxy at the Home Depot Center. The Claret-and-Cobalt will follow up the LA match with a trip to the Pacific Northwest, where it will take on the Portland Timbers in a July 21 midweek clash at JELD-WEN Field. RSL will return home on Aug. 24, when it will take on Eastern Conference foe the Columbus Crew at Rio Tinto Stadium.
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Real Salt Lake Match Notes – RSL 1-0 HOU
- Tonight’s win improves RSL to 4-9-5 in league play against Houston. The Claret-and-Cobalt is now 4-1-4 against the Dynamo at home. Tonight’s victory was just RSL’s second in its last 13 matches against the Dynamo; the other victory was a 3-1 win at Rio Tinto Stadium on May 13, 2010.
- RSL FW Alvaro Saborio continued his torrid form tonight, registering his sixth goal in four games since returning to RSL from international duty. The Costa Rican striker now has nine goals (T-5 in the league) and two assists in 11 MLS games and 11 goals and four assists in 13 games across all competitions. His penalty kick conversion moves him to 15-for-16 from the spot all-time for RSL and 11-for-12 for the Claret-and-Cobalt in MLS play. RSL’s all-time leading scorer, Saborio now has 64 goals in 108 games across all competitions for the Utah side. The club is now 34-6-8 when he scores.
- Real Salt Lake lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation tonight, just the third time this year that RSL Head Coach Jason Kreis has started a game not in the diamond 4-4-2 setup. The Claret-and-Cobalt is 3-0-0 in those games, with the other two wins coming on June 29 at Toronto FC (1-0; 4-3-3 formation) and July 13 at FC Dallas (3-0; 4-5-1).
- Real Salt Lake GK Nick Rimando kept the shutout tonight, giving him 106 in his MLS career, just six shy of New York GK Kevin Hartman for the all-time league record. Rimando now has 148 career MLS wins, 82 league wins with RSL and 70 shutouts for the Claret-and-Cobalt. The clean sheet was RSL’s first since the July 13 win at Dallas the first for Rimando in a RSL jersey since the June 29 win at Toronto.
- Tonight’s match concluded a stretch of three games in eight days for RSL. The Claret-and-Cobalt went 2-0-1 during the busy run, tying 2-2 at the Colorado Rapids last Saturday and beating the Portland Timbers 2-1 in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Semifinal at home on Wednesday. RSL is now 3-1-1 this year in the final matches of three-game in eight day stretches.
- Tonight’s match was the 10th game that RSL Captain Kyle Beckerman and Rimando have played in the last 37 days across all competitions (MLS, U.S. Open Cup, MLS All-Star and U.S. national team). That’s an average of one game every 3.7 days, or roughly two games per week for the last five weeks. During the span – which dates back to the U.S.’s July 5 win over Guatemala – Beckerman has logged 742 minutes and Rimando has played 855 minutes.
- Tonight’s win moves RSL to 10-0-1 across all competitions when outside backs DF Tony Beltran and DF Chris Wingert both start. The win also keeps the Claret-and-Cobalt unbeaten when DF Carlos Salcedo plays, improving the Utah side to 8-0-2 in all competitions when the 19-year-old center back starts and 9-0-2 in all comps when he appears.
Goals by Period 1 2 F
Real Salt Lake 1 0 1
Houston Dynamo 0 0 0
RSL – Alvaro Saborio (Penalty Kick) – 37’
HOU – Ricardo Clark (Yellow; Foul) – 9’
RSL – Ned Grabavoy (Yellow; Foul) – 15’
RSL – Olmes Garcia (Yellow; Foul) – 68’
Real Salt Lake (4-2-3-1): Nick Rimando; Tony Beltran, Nat Borchers, Carlos Salcedo, Chris Wingert; Kyle Beckerman (C), Ned Grabavoy; Javier Morales; Olmes Garcia (Devon Sandoval, 75’), Alvaro Saborio, Joao Plata (Luis Gil, 62’)
Substitutes not used: Jeff Attinella (GK), Lovel Palmer, Cole Grossman, Sebastian Velasquez, Robbie Findley
Houston Dynamo (4-4-2): Tally Hall; Kofi Sarkodie (Cam Weaver, ), Bobby Boswell, Jermaine Taylor, Corey Ashe; Warren Creavalle (Jason Johnson, 65’), Adam Moffat (Boniek Garcia, 81’), Ricardo Clark, Brad Davis (C); Giles Barnes (Cam Weaver, 74’), Will Bruin
Substitutes not used: Erich Marscheider (GK), Mike Chabala, Eric Brunner, Anthony Arena
Referee: Jose Carlos Rivero
Assistant Referees: Frank Anderson, Adam Wienckowski
4th Official: Mark Kadlecik
Weather: Sunny and 93 degrees