Real Salt Lake 3-0 Philadelphia Union: Defending Champs Dish Out Expansion Blues

Defending champs cruise to a comfortable win.
SANDY, Utah -- Real Salt Lake started slowly, but still cruised to a comfortable victory over the expansion Philadelphia Union in front of 14,224 at Rio Tinto Stadium. Kyle Beckerman, Jamison Olave, and Alvaro Saborio scored for Salt Lake, extending Real’s win streak to two games. The loss leaves Philadelphia still looking for their first road point in team history.

First Half

The early minutes were evenly split between the two teams, but Philadelphia had trouble getting out of the middle third. Consequently, RSL had the more dangerous chances. In the 8th minute, Findley played a nice header into the center of the field just outside the penalty area, but his hard low shot just missed wide of the left post.

As the half drew on, Real started to make some uncharacteristic errors, gifting the ball over to the Union deep in Real’s end. But they were able to bail themselves out several times, thanks to some scrappy defending.

Just as Philadelphia was showing signs of life, another one of the mistakes that has plagued their season cost them yet again. Cristian Arrieta attempted to make a routine backpass to goalkeeper Christ Seitz, but his pass was easily intercepted by Alvaro Saborio. Saborio pushed it across the penalty area to Beckerman for an easy tap-in goal, to put the home team up 1-0.

Real, who looked fairly anemic going forward in the first half, were dealt another blow on offense in the 38 minute when Robbie Findley was forced to come off with an injury. He was replaced by Pablo Campos.

Second Half

RSL came out of the locker room with a little more control and a little more purpose in their play, and in the 51st minute they were awarded with their second goal. Will Johnson was fouled hard just outside the left side of the penalty area. Javier Morales curled a free kick from the near post into the arms of Seitz, but Seitz fumbled the ball onto the feet of Olave, who tapped it in.

Philadelphia’s first truly good chance of the game didn’t come until the 60th minute when some nice combination play around RSL’s penalty area earned a shot for Jordan Harvey 15 yards from goal. But Harvey didn’t connect well with the shot and sent it harmlessly into the side netting.

RSL kept chipping away at the Union defense, and they managed to break through again in the 70th minute. Real worked the ball up the middle of the pitch where Saborio passed a square ball to Campos on the right side of the penalty area. Campos put an excellent cross back onto the head of Saborio, who poked it home past the helpless Seitz to give RSL the 3-0 lead.

Saborio nearly added another goal in the 80th minute off another free kick by Morales. The Costa Rican got his head on it, but it went just over the bar.

The Union’s best chance of the match came in the 85th minute off a free kick from 22 yards away, dead center. Kyle Nakazawa tried to curl a free kick over the wall, but he hit it high by inches.

Real Salt Lake’s next match comes early: this Thursday the Claret-and-Cobalt take on the Houston Dynamo at Rio Tinto Stadium. Today’s game wrapped up Philadelphia’s four-game road trip. Next Saturday they host FC Dallas.

For the latest insider info on all things RSL, follow Jeremy on Twitter @RSL_Jeremy