Amid wind driven chilly conditions on Saturday night, Real Salt Lake once again defended its home pitch this season in dramatic fashion with a 2:1 win over the visiting New England Revolution. The victory gave RSL a 5-1-0 record at home this season and kept the team tied with the San Jose Earthquake atop the West Conference with 22 points.
But as head coach Jason Kreis elaborated in his post-game press conference the match was another example of Real’s inability so far this season to put together a complete game. Or in otherwords: dominate their competition from start to finish, leaving zero doubt about the game’s final outcome.
Striking first with a goal in the 22nd minute by Blake Brettschneider New England placed the onus on RSL to play catch up on their home turf.
However, Real would regain control of the match with goals from forward Alvaro Saborio’s in the 33rd and 55th minutes. The goals ignited the crowd and quieted Saborio’s critics who had begun to question whether or not the goal striker was still a force on the offensive side of the ball.
The fiercely contested and overall balanced match, intensified with two questionable red cards called during the 59th and 81st minutes. The first on RSL’s Will Johnson sent Real into defensive mood, while the second on New England’s Fernando Cardenas allowed the home team to continue its aggressive style of play and a game clinching goal.
Though the fouls and cards issued to both teams certainly added to the game’s drama, it was each sides’ goal keepers who kept the match close, allowing the final outcome to remain in doubt up through the final minute.
The battle between two of the better goalkeepers in the league saw game saving blocks and stops throughout the second half, each one ramping up the game’s intensity. But it was RSL’s Nick Rimando who out shined New England’s Matt Reis, proving slightly more agile and able to accurately anticipate his opponent’s shot attempts.
Kreis gave full credit to Rimando after the game stating that “Nick got us the three points tonight. Without him we’re probably walking away with one.” Real’s head coach also applauded Reis’ efforts for keeping the Revolution in a game the team could have easily lost control of.
At the end of the day, RSL proved once again that remains of the elite teams in MLS not simply because of the skilled players on their squad, but more importantly that all the players function as a team with individuals elevating their play in support of others. On Saturday night it just happened to be Saborio and Rimando’s turn.
Next up for RSL is a two game road trip over the next seven days to Chicago and Seattle, while New England returns home to face Vancouvor next Satruday.
Images from Real Salt Lake vs. New England Revolution
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