SANDY, Utah -- It didn't go according to plan, but in the end it didn't matter. Real Salt Lake started off in a funk, but turned up the heat in the second half enough to burn the Philadelphia Union 3-0 in the first-ever meeting between the two teams.
RSL had planned to come out of the gate strong and put the Union in an early hole, forcing them to chase the game like they did against Toronto last week. But ultimately that didn't happen for RSL, as Philadelphia played some inspired soccer in the first half. Their ability to spread the field gave Salt Lake fits in the first 45.
"It was a matter of staying with our marks," said defender Chris Wingert. "We weren't quite patient enough."
Ultimately though, it was a mistake by Philadelphia that turned the game on its end. A simple backpass from Cristian Arrieta to goalkeeper Chris Seitz was intercepted by Alvaro Saborio. He tried to shoot past Seitz, but a backtracking defender managed to block the shot. Kyle Beckerman had made a long run upfield to help, and help he did. The blocked shot fell right to him, and he easily beat Seitz to the far post.
"I saw [Saborio] sniff it out," said Beckerman, "and something in my mind made me get on my horse and start running towards the goal just in case the ball pops out."
The fact that Beckerman was willing to make such a long run on a play that looked to be a simple 1-on-1 with the goalkeeper was indicative of the tenacity and work rate Beckerman showed throughout the match.
"He worked so hard," said head coach Jason Kreis. "It's extremely rewarding, because for that ball to fall to him is odd, but he deserved the goal. I really appreciate it when guys score goals when they deserve it."
Real were forced to improvise a bit on offense when Robbie Findley had to come out of the match with a lower back injury. Already short a striker, RSL were forced to go with two target forwards - Alvaro Saborio and Pablo Campos - for an entire hour. So Salt Lake's third goal was especially sweet, as those two combined to score it. A pinpoint cross from Campos landed right on Saborio's head for the goal.
"We're both target forwards, so I understand how [Saborio] plays," said Campos. "I knew where he would be and I just tried to put it there. It was a great assist."
"I thought [Saborio and Campos] combined well," said Kreis. "They're both not your prototypical big striker. They're both capable of doing a lot of other things than just playing with their backs to the goal."
Real have a short week as they host the always-tough Houston Dynamo this coming Thursday. The team know they need to bring their A-game if they hope to extend their win streak to three.
"We need to get ready mentally," said Wingert. "We always have good battles against Houston, and I'm sure Thursday will be another one."
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