REAL SALT LAKE EXTEND UNBEATEN STREAK TO FIVE IN A ROW FOLLOWING 1-0 VICTORY AT SEATTLE
RSL Defense Hold Sounders FC to Zero Shots on Goal; Espindola Notches Club-Record 30th Regular Season Goal; Claret & Cobalt Improve to 8-3-2, League-high 26 Points
SEATTLE (Saturday, May 12, 2012) –Real Salt Lake (8-3-2, 26 points, West #1) extended its lead atop both the overall and Western Conference standings with tonight’s 1-0 road victory over Seattle Sounders FC. RSL FW Fabian Espindola found the back of the net for the game’s only goal early on in the second half, the opportunity created by 18-year old MF Luis Gil and FW Alvaro Saborio. The win paced RSL to its best-ever 13-game start in eight seasons of MLS play, and improved the once road-weary club to 3-2-2 away from home this year, with road victories against West rivals Los Angeles, Portland and now Seattle.
In front of 39,312 fans at Century Link Field, the RSL defense – with GK Nick Rimando returning to the starting lineup after missing Wednesday’s match in Chicago – extended its shutout streak to 250 minutes, tallying the club’s fifth clean sheet in its league-high 13 games this season and extending RSL’s active unbeaten streak to five games entering a two-week bye.
For the second consecutive game, RSL Head Coach Jason Kreis was forced to make an early substitution. The RSL defense suffered an early setback, as veteran DF Chris Wingert suffered a left hamstring strain in the 20th minute, and made way for third-year DF Chris Schuler, appearing in just his fourth game at outside back. The RSL rearguard of Tony Beltran, Nat Borchers and Jamison Olave joined Schuler in holding Seattle without a shot on goal, allowing GK Nick Rimando – making his 300th career MLS start (155th with RSL, 145 with D.C. and Miami) – to come off his line and control Sounders crosses into the box.
Following a scoreless first half, RSL brought early energy to the second stanza, most of it through Espindola. The Argentine striker harassed the Seattle backline, his charging runs and persistent determination paying off in the 51st minute. Strike partner Alvaro Saborio utilized a heel-flick on a give-and-go in the central channel with MF Luis Gil, who played a ball to the top of the box for an overlapping Espindola, who buried the bouncing turf ball with a left-footed volley, catching Seattle GK Bryan Meredith wrong-footed. The goal was Espindola’s 30th regular-season score in 105 career MLS matches, allowing him to break the 29-goal tie he shared with former RSL FW Robbie Findley. The tally was Espindola’s 9th career regular-season game-winning goal, with RSL improving to 18-6-7 all-time when Fabi finds the back of the net.
Click here for the MLSsoccer.com recap of tonight’s contest at CenturyLink Field
Click here to access video highlights, courtesy of MLSsoccer.com
Real Salt Lake Match Notes – SEA 0 : 1 RSL
• Real Salt Lake’s record of 8-3-2 (26 points) through 13 games and its 3-2-2 start on the road this season each mark the best starts in the team’s eight-year history, surpassing the 7-3-3 (24 points) start during its record-setting 2010 season …
• RSL DF Chris Wingert left the game in the 20th minute due to a left hamstring injury, making way for center-back Chris Schuler on the left. RSL was already out talismanic MFJavier Morales due to a right quadriceps strain, while welcoming back four of the team’s traditional starters who missed the 0-0 draw at Chicago midweek – GK Nick Rimando, DF Nat Borchers, MF Will Johnson & FW Fabian Espindola.
• Tonight’s match improved RSL’s all-time road record on artificial turf to 5-13-8, being outscored 23-49 … However, the club is 2-0-0 in 2012, as earlier this year, Jason Kreis’ team tallied late goals through Jonny Steele and Kyle Beckerman to win in Portland, 3-2 … RSL travels to Vancouver on August 11 and returns to Seattle on October 17 in the team’s two remaining MLS turf games this season.
• RSL Captain and MF Kyle Beckerman is the only player remaining on the RSL roster to have played every one of this season’s 1,170 minutes … Only DF Tony Beltran and FW Alvaro Saborio have also appeared in all 13 games.
• Playing its third three-game week of the year, RSL posted a 2-0-1 mark (7 pts.) this week, three more than the four accumulated in mid-April @SJ, @DAL and v TOR. At the beginning of April, RSL took the full 9 pts. in wins @ POR, v MON & v COL. RSL has now completed 27 three-game weeks in the Jason Kreis era (counting all competitions), posting a 31-22-19 mark. At least two more 3-game weeks are on the docket this season prior to July 7, with more possible due to placement of U.S. Open Cup and CONCACAF Champions League action.
• Real Salt Lake enjoys a bye from MLS play next weekend before returning to action at its Rio Tinto Stadium home against FC Dallas on Saturday, May 26. Tickets for that night’s game can be purchased at www.RealSaltLake.com or by calling (801) 727.2701.
• In the meantime, the club will play an exhibition game next Saturday, May 19, at South Field in Provo against the BYU Cougars. On Wednesday, May 16, RSL finds out its 2012 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup fate, learning the venue and opponent for its Round of 32 match on Tuesday, May 29. This week should also begin the trickle of invitations for RSL players to their respective national team camps, as MF Kyle Beckerman, GK Nick Rimando (U.S.), MF Will Johnson (Canada) and FW Alvaro Saborio (Costa Rica) could potentially participate in the early June FIFA dates … 18-year old RSL MF Luis Gil could potentially be included in the U.S. U-20 camp this summer as well.
SEATTLE SOUNDERS 0 : 1 REAL SALT LAKE
SATURDAY, MAY 12, 2012
Goals by Period 1 2 F
Seattle Sounders FC 0 0 0
Real Salt Lake 0 1 1
Scoring Summary: RSL – Espindola (Gil) 51’
Misconduct Summary: SEA – Johnson (interference) 53’
RSL – Saborio (hard foul) 70’
Real Salt Lake (4-1-2-1-2) –Nick Rimando; Tony Beltran, Jamison Olave, Nat Borchers, Chris Wingert (Chris Schuler 20); Kyle Beckerman (c), Ned Grabavoy, Will Johnson, Luis Gil (Jonny Steele 75); Alvaro Saborio (Yordany Alvarez 81), Fabian Espindola
Substitutes Not Used: Kyle Reynish (GK), Terukazu Tanaka, Emiliano Bonfigli, Paulo Junior
Seattle Sounders FC (4-4-2) – Bryan Meredith, Adam Johansson (Alex Caskey 82), Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Jeff Parke, Marc Burch; Mauro Rosales (c) (Cordell Cato 75), Osvaldo Alonso, Andy Rose, David Estrada (Alvaro Fernandez 58); Fredy Montero, Eddie Johnson
Substitutes Not Used: Andrew Weber (GK), Servando Carrasco, Andrew Duran, Roger Levesque
Referee: Mark Geiger Referee's Assistants: Joe Fletcher, Mike Rottersman 4th Official: Daniel Radford
Attendance: 39, 312 (3rd largest for MLS match at C-Link)
Time of Game: 1:58 Weather: Clear and 65 degrees