The claret-and-cobalt earned a vital three points in their last bout before kicking off Champion's League play.SANDY, Utah -- Alvaro Saborio scored twice - his second multiple-goal game of July - to lead Real Salt Lake to a big 2-1 win over the Vancouver Whitecaps in front of 18,702 fans at Rio Tinto Stadium.
The goals brought Saborio's July total to six in five matches. Darren Mattocks equalized the match for the 'Caps after Saborio's first goal, but Saborio struck again just minutes later to produce the final margin.
As usual, Salt Lake used high pressure and a numbers-forward tactic to keep opportunities going its way. It created several good chances in the first half hour but wasn't able to get the final touch. However, it was rewarded with a penalty in the 32nd minute when a long foray into the Vancouver box lead to a cross toward Kyle Beckerman, and referee Kevin Stott ruled that Jay DeMerit elbowed Beckerman. Saborio coolly stepped up and buried it to give Real the early lead. Saborio is now 11-for-11 on penalties in his MLS career.
"I think it was a just reward for all the work the guys were putting in," said head coach Jason Kreis. "I really feel like we had the energy and chances, so it was good to see us get a goal there."
After the half, it was Vancouver gaining the upper hand off the foot of Mattocks. Camilo played a beautiful looping ball over Nat Borchers, hitting Mattocks in stride. Nick Rimando decided to come out and make a play on the ball, but Mattocks' speed got the better of Rimando. Mattocks touched it around him and finished from a tight angle to bring the Whitecaps level at 1-1. The goal energized the visitors and they enjoyed their most dangerous stretch of the match. Just two minutes later, Jun Marques Davidson clanged a shot off the post from the top of the penalty area.
But as it is known to do, RSL did not stay down for long. On its first foray forward after what seemed like 10 minutes of frantic defending, Javier Morales clipped in a ball from the right corner of the box and dropped it right onto Saborio's head. The Costa Rican made no mistake as he nodded it home to put Salt Lake back on top.
"It was a great response by the team," said goalkeeper Nick Rimando. "We kept on fighting. It was a great ball from Morales and again Saborio was strong up top and fought off his defender and headed home a great ball."
A red card to Whitecaps goalkeeper Joe Cannon in the 76th minute derailed any hopes of a Vancouver comeback. Cannon rushed out of his box to stop Fabian Espindola's breakaway but he handled the ball out of the box and Stott showed him a red card.
"We shouldn't talk about Sabo without talking about [Espindola]," said Kreis. "The work he's putting in is making Sabo's life easier."
The win was a coup for Salt Lake; it now trails San Jose by just one point in the Western Conference standings. But perhaps more importantly, its second win in a row should give the team some extra confidence heading into CONCACAF Champion's League play next week. On Tuesday, RSL will travel to Costa Rica for a critical match with CS Herediano.
"It gives us a lot of confidence," said midfielder Luis Gil. "It gets us motivated for [Champions League play] and I think we're ready for it. The streak has gotten us back in our rhythm of winning and playing our style and I feel like we can keep our momentum going. It's just up to us to keep doing what we're doing."
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