The New England Revolution increased their lead on the Eastern Conference with a 1-0 win Saturday at Rice-Eccles Stadium over struggling expansion side Real Salt Lake.
In a physical battle, the Revolution grabbed three points -- which brought their total to 46, a single-season high -- off a goal from second half substitute Khano Smith.
"It was gutty, gritty game," said Revolution captain Shalrie Joseph. "It was a more physical than we would have liked it, but we got the win tonight. And that's all that counts."
The Revs and RSL were deadlocked well into the second half until head coach Steve Nicol brought in Smith in the 74th minute. Smith wasted no time. He connected on a pass from Pat Noonan, made a long run around RSL defender Brian Kamler and burried a shot into the side netting.
"He's been working in practice all week and he got his chance to come in and he did well," Joseph said of Smith. "Pat played him a good ball and he has long legs and a good stride so he was able to take it down the line and was able to finish it all by himself. It was a great finish."
Nicol realizes it all comes down to taking things one result at a time. Getting points where ever they can be found, even if it isn't pretty.
"To be honest with you, I'm just happy with a win," said Nicol. "I don't think we played particularly well. I don't think was a particularly good game from either team. But, we're obviously happy with a win.
"(There were) too many misplayed passes really on both teams. Especially on that field, you have to be accurate on your passes or the ball rolls away from you. Sometimes it's ugly, but we'll take it."
Joseph knows the secret to the Revolution's success this sesason, even through the ugly games.
Said Joseph: "We just got to keep our composure and play our style of game. We can play on all kinds of styles of game. We can play pretty style, we can play dirty style what ever they want to play we're going to match it.
"Our secret is just staying together as a team. We've been working well for each other nobody is taking personal goals out of this and everybody is just working hard for the team.
"We realize we have a goal in mind and we just want to get to the final and then win the cup."
Scott McAllister is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.