Real Salt Lake defeated the Vancouver Whitecaps 2-0 Saturday.
While the side is not yet back in form, they played better and earned the full three points at home.
“It was a step in the right direction,” coach Jason Kreis said. “There is still room for improvement and still a couple steps forward to make.”
Coming into the match, General Manager Garth Lagerwey noted that 50 percent of the team’s salary cap was unavailable due to international call-ups, injuries, and a red card suspension.
Nelson Gonzalez, Collen Warner, Chris Schuler, and Jean Alexandre all started for Salt Lake.
“We needed this,” defender Nat Borchers said. “We’re going to have to come out and battle now.”
The side now has 20 points in 10 matches and boasts a league-leading 2.0 points per match. They will play at Columbus Wednesday and at Philadelphia Saturday.
Alexandre opened up scoring in the 32nd minute, when he collected a pass from Kyle Beckerman at the corner the box, dodged around a defender and put it past Joe Cannon.
Fabian Espindola scored in the 79th minute when Alexandre’s perfectly-timed through ball caught him on a run behind the defense. Espindola took the breakaway and put the ball around a helpless Cannon.
Real Salt Lake continues to use a patch-work lineup due to injuries and absences:
- FORWARD: Alexandre, Espindola (81′ Gil for Alexandre)
- MIDFIELD: Grabavoy, Beckerman, Warner, Gonzalez (67′ Williams for Gonzalez) (87′ Aghasyan for Warner)
- DEFENSE: Beltran, Schuler, Borchers, Wingert
- KEEPER: Rimando
Real only had six players available for selection (allowed seven); however, every player that was uninjured or away for international duty was on the list.
Robbie Russell appeared fine on Friday; however, he was injured during practice and unavailable for the match.
Real started better than last week, though that wasn’t too difficult. The side was clearly in control, even though some of the new players struggled.
Alexandre’s goal was the first of his MLS career.
Warner struggled at the top of the diamond early. He did show flashes of brilliance, including a late heel pass in the box that Alexandre squandered.
Alexandre seemed much more comfortable up top and played better. In addition to scoring and assisting, he started making better runs and challenges for the ball.
Vancouver made two substitutions and switched to a 3-5-2 at halftime.
Espindola took sole possession of third place on the Real Salt Lake all time scoring list with his 79th minute tally. He broke a tie previously held with Javier Morales and Jason Kreis.
Artur Aghasyan made his debut with Real Salt Lake. Aghasyan is the cousin of Yura Movsisyan and was a trialist with Salt Lake in 2009. He replaced Conor Chinn on the roster last week when the former Red Bull was waived by Salt Lake.
Man of the Match
Jean Alexandre scored and assisted. He is still growing into the forward role, but he is getting better. He is the man of the match.
Category: Game Review