SANDY, Utah — After a rare loss last week at Rio Tinto Stadium, Real Salt Lake were able to get back to their winning ways with a 2-0 victory over the visiting Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday.
Midfielder Jean Alexandre, who was converted to forward thanks to a rash of injuries and international call-ups, justified the switch with a goal in the first half and an assist in the second in a commanding performance from RSL.
Real Salt Lake started out the first half with the bulk of possession, stringing together numerous passes, but struggling to create chances. Meanwhile, Vancouver spent much of the first half struggling to find the ball, content to sit back in a defensive shell and blunt attacks where they could.
Nonetheless, it looked like the Whitecaps would end up with the first quality attempt on goal as Shea Salinas got beyond the defense on the half hour mark, but his attempted diagonal pass was off the mark and went all the way across the field and out of play.
Salt Lake capitalized just a few minutes later, when Kyle Beckerman was able to thread a pass to Alexander in the 32nd minute, just beating the offside trap. Alexandre held off a couple of defenders before cutting toward goal and lifting a shot past 'keeper Joe Cannon to open the scoring. The goal was Alexandre’s first in Major League Soccer.
Another good chance would be left wanting just a minute later, as Fabián Espíndola played a well-weighted ball into space for defender Tony Beltran, but Beltran’s shot from 10 yards out was knocked away by Cannon.
The second half opened with Vancouver bringing a more attack-minded approach, but it was RSL who would find paydirt.
After Ned Grabavoy intercepted a Vancouver pass, Alexandre evaded a midfield challenge with some neat footwork and flicked it into space for Espíndola, who rushed onto the pass. He finished clinically, putting a low shot into the right side of the net for the 2-0 lead in the 79th minute.
The Whitecaps had several dangerous chances late in the match, but were unable to capitalize as Nick Rimando denied Alain Rochat’s 25-yard scorcher, and defender Chris Schuler did well to foil a break from Omar Salgado.
The Whitecaps are now 1-6-7, winless in 13 straight and bottom of the Western Conference. They travel to Seattle next weekend for a rivalry match.
Real Salt Lake, meanwhile, get back to their winning ways after a three-match winless run and sit fourth in the West at 6-2-2 with games in hand. They’ll travel to Columbus on June 8 for a midweek matchup.
RSL -- Jean Alexandre 1 (Kyle Beckerman 1) 32
RSL -- Fabian Espindola 2 (Jean Alexandre 1) 79
VAN -- Jay DeMerit (caution; Reckless Foul) 15
RSL -- Collen Warner (caution; Reckless Foul) 30
VAN -- Gershon Koffie (caution; Dissent) 66
Vancouver Whitecaps -- Joe Cannon, Bilal Duckett, Jay DeMerit, Mouloud Akloul (Michael Nanchoff 74), Alain Rochat, Shea Salinas, Gershon Koffie, Peter Vagenas (Alexandre Morfaw 46), Russell Teibert (Omar Salgado 46), Davide Chiumiento, Camilo.
Substitutes Not Used: Jeb Brovsky, Greg Janicki, Wes Knight, Jay Nolly.
Real Salt Lake -- Nick Rimando, Tony Beltran, Chris Schuler, Nat Borchers, Chris Wingert, Ned Grabavoy, Kyle Beckerman, Collen Warner (Artur Aghasyan 87), Nelson Gonzalez (Andy Williams 67), Jean Alexandre (Luis Gil 81), Fabian Espindola.
Substitutes Not Used: Rauwshan McKenzie, Donny Toia, Kyle Reynish.
Referee: Juan Guzman
Referee's Assistants: Fabio Tovar; Ian Anderson
4th Official: Ricardo Salazar
Time of Game: 1:49
Weather: Partly Cloudy and 73 degrees