SANDY, Utah - It wasn’t pretty, but it was effective. Real Salt Lake managed to tally yet another stoppage time goal against Colorado Rapids, this one giving them the 1-0 victory and running their record to a perfect 4-0-0.
“It wasn’t our best,” said coach Jason Kreis. “No doubt about that.”
Watch: Full match highlights
Best or not, Real Salt Lake managed to get the victory anyway. Perhaps that’s luck, perhaps that’s just an extra touch of quality, or perhaps that’s a matter of refusing to quit.
“I guess it’s just one of those things where you don’t really give up,” said midfielder Ned Grabavoy. “Factor in the rivalry a little bit, because maybe both teams are going for the win more than another road team would.”
Kyle Beckerman had a similar take.
“We try not to lose focus at all and pay attention to the little details,” was Beckerman’s attempt to explain the phenomenon of continued success against the Rapids.
The hero of the night had to be Fabian Espindola, who put in the game winner. The Argentine striker had expressed recent frustration over not scoring yet this season, but was finally able to open his account.
“I’ve said it many times before that I’m really pleased when someone that works so extremely hard is the one that ends up being able to make the difference in the game,” said Kreis. “Because Fabian could be the man-of-the-match in my opinion.”
Espindola is a player that likes to toe the line, testing the offside call. Wednesday’s showdown with the Rapids was no different, and ultimately Espindola would get the result he was looking for with a last minute game winner off of a fortuitous rebound.
Espindola’s six offside calls coming into the match gave him the second most in the league. In this match he was flagged twice, including a controversial call that negated a goal just before the halftime break. Replays later showed that Espindola was a step offside.
“I don’t know,” said Espindola about whether he was offside on the play. “I have no idea.”
Watch: Espindola just offside
However, offside would work in his favor on the decisive play of the game when the side judge’s flag would stay down. A well struck corner kick by Javier Morales hit the right upright before bouncing off Paulo Jr.’s leg. And that brought controversy, as some among the Rapids contingent at Rio Tinto felt that when the ball came of Paulo Jr’s leg, Espindola was in an offside position.
“It was almost a perfect free kick from Javi,” explained Espindola who was unaware that there was controversy on the play, “and then a little touch from Paulo, and it was almost there. I had to stretch my leg a little bit, and I got it.”
Regardless of the controversy, Espindola seemed very relieved and pleased with the result. “I’m so happy. I had to score. I just had to score, and when I do I feel like I did my job.”