Alvaro Saborio grabbed a late winner against a plucky New England team.
The early minutes belonged to New England, who came flying out of the gate. RSL appeared to have problems getting used to the artificial turf, causing them to give the ball away readily in the opening 10 minutes. With the game being played almost exclusively in the Salt Lake half, the Revolution had the early chances. Shalrie Joseph and Marko Perovic had the best opportunities for the Revs, but none were particularly dangerous.
As Real settled down after the early storm, the game turned into a more even affair. But both teams had trouble generating chances as the defenses starred. New England fired off some shots, but they were all from long distance and poor angles. Salt Lake got behind the Revs’ defense on the flanks a few times, but New England were strong the in air and cleared everything that came into the box.
The first dangerous opportunity of the match didn’t come until 27th minute when New England came within inches of opening the scoring. After an RSL turnover, some quick combination play got the ball to Sainey Nyassi 25 yards from goal straight away. He ripped a hard, high shot that pinged the top of the crossbar on its way out of bounds.
In the 36th minute, Joseph took a hopeful half-chance from long distance for the Revolution that almost hit pay dirt. His shot took a deflection which forced Nick Rimando to make a diving save to keep New England off the board.
Just one minute later, Real had their first good shot of the match. A poor clearance into the middle of the pitch by New England was pounced on by Ned Grabavoy. Grabavoy controlled it and took a quick shot that missed the left post by just inches, giving Salt Lake a little bit of momentum going into the half.
The first 20 minutes of the second half were a stalemate in the mold of the first half, but without the shooting. Neither team took a shot until the 68th minute.
But the shot in the 68th minute was a dandy and completely changed the complexion of the game. Off a free kick 40 yards from goal, Javier Morales looped in an excellent ball to the right post. Borchers rose up and just touched the ball with the top of his head an sent it into the net past a helpless Matt Reis. Borchers’ goal was just his second of the year, the first coming in RSL’s last league match. Both goals were eerily similar in the manner of the finish.
Down 1-0, the Revolution responded with a renewed sense of urgency. Just two minutes after Borchers gave Salt Lake the lead, the Revs earned a free kick 30 yards from goal. Perovic struck it hard past the wall, but Rimando made an outstanding diving save at his left post to preserve Real’s lead.
New England again nearly equalized in the 79th minute as they kept applying the pressure. This time, they almost benefited from another wacky bounce. Kenny Mansally attempted a cross from the left wing that deflected high off Tony Beltran an almost looped into the goal, but it fell just past the crossbar. And two minutes later, a hard shot by Kheli Dube was well-saved by Rimando and Real’s lead stayed safe for the moment.
But in the 82nd minute, New England’s pressure paid off as they leveled the match. Dube took another hard shot that was saved by Rimando. But Rimando’s deflection popped up over his head and Mansally slid in at the far post to knock it in and bring the Revolution level.
Unfortunately for New England, the draw was short-lived. Just two minutes after the Revs appeared to break RSL’s heart, Tony Beltran earned a corner for Salt Lake. Javier Morales whipped in the corner and found the head of the unmarked Saborio, who easily headed it home. And just like that, after a flurry of goals, Real were back on top 2-1.
The Revs kept battling, and they nearly pulled level again in the 87th minute. A great pass found Nyassi streaking down the right side. Nyassi only had Rimando to beat, but Rimando made the sliding save and touched the ball out for the corner to earn RSL the full three points.
New England will see their next action a week from Sunday when they travel to Houston to take on the Dynamo. Salt Lake will enjoy their first full week without a game in almost a month before traveling to New York for their first-ever visit to Red Bull Arena next Saturday.
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