Real Salt Lake blew into New Jersey on a four-game winning streak and a chance to climb into second place in the ultra-competitive Western Conference.
They did the job, cutting a swathe through the hapless Red Bulls defense en route to a commanding 3-1 win.
WATCH: Full Match Highlights
“It was a little bit surprising,” said RSL forward Fabián Espíndola, whose brace brought his season scoring total to nine. “[New York] is a good team with good players. But we created the space, and we took the chances.”
That they did. RSL opened the scoring in hostile territory in just the seventh minute as Álvaro Saborío headed home a corner kick from Andy Williams. RBNY defender Tim Ream gifted Espíndola a goal four minutes later, and the Argentine added another in the 21st minute to push the lead to 3-0, and leave the Red Bulls scratching their heads.
“It feels great,” Espíndola said. “Great for me, great for the team.”
In 21 minutes, RSL managed to match their scoring output from their six prior encounters in New York by knocking home those three goals. In fact, that three goal outburst was the fastest that RSL have ever reached three goals to start out a match.
“I like that our group is ready to play the game, and jumps on the situation at the beginning of the match,” head coach Jason Kreis told ESPN700 Sports Radio in Salt Lake City immediately following the match. “I have to say I think it was a bit fortunate that we scored the goal off a corner kick, and then very fortunate that they made a critical mistake in the back. From there, I hate to say it, but I think the game was done.”
Fortunate or not, the 3-1 outcome was a welcome one for the RSL squad. The win pushed their winning streak to five straight, their longest such run since May 2010, and the team is brimming with confidence as they head to D.C. United for another road match on Saturday.
They were also able to leapfrog Seattle for the second playoff position in the West. The teams are tied with 51 points and split their two matches this season, but RSL have the goal-differential tiebreaker as well as a game in hand.