Williams strike sets mark, aids in win
SALT LAKE CITY - 5-1. That's what Real Salt Lake midfielder Andy Williams had in his mind coming into Saturday's expansion rematch with Chivas USA.
When Chivas USA put the whipping on Real in July at The Home Depot Center, Williams was wrapping up his international career in the CONCACAF Gold Cup with the Jamaican national team. At a warm Rice-Eccles Stadium, he was determined to prevent RSL from suffering another lopsided loss as the hands of Chivas.
After a first half that saw an ugly fracas followed by a Chivas goal, Williams kicked it into high gear - and for good reason.
"After last time (a 3-0 victory against FC Dallas) my wife gave me a bad time about passing up shots," Williams said. "So I wasn't going to do that again."
In the first half Williams had a number of looks at goal, but after the halftime break he really started to make them count. He fired 11 shots in all, four of which were on goal. And once he started to find the mark, it didn't take him long put one in the back of the net.
In the 49th minute, Williams was on the receiving end of a Jason Kreis pass from left. Twenty yards out from goal and with a little bit of space, Williams unleashed a rocket that split two Chivas defenders on its way to the back of the net.
That strike marked a couple of milestones: it was the 5,000th goal in MLS history and it was also the first goal RSL ever scored at the north end of the stadium.
Williams, who had expressed his lack of interest in the league milestone, immediately ran to the fan club section and took a "Lambeau leap". As Williams celebrated with the fans he was draped in streamers.
"I made a promise to someone that I would score one in the north end," Williams said. "The Loyalists and the Jesters hadn't got to celebrate a goal on that end so I thought it was fitting."
And it was a tribute that was not lost on RSL supporters.
"It was awesome that he recognized us and the support," said Steve McAfee of The Loyalists. "They can just celebrate among themselves but it was great that he shared that with us."
The hex on the north goal was gone and it was Kreis who put away a penalty kick, again in the north goal, to give RSL the 2-1 victory. When the final few seconds ticked off the clock RSL was united in who their man of the match was.
"In my mind Andy was the man of the match," was the succinct description from Real head coach John Ellinger of how Williams played.
And RSL 'keeper D.J. Countess agreed: "Andy Williams was the best player on the field today."
David Hale is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.