When Fabián Espíndola buried his chance in the 50th minute against Seattle on Saturday night, it was like a giant weight had been lifted off his shoulders.
He gave his team victory over the red-hot Sounders, snapping their six-game winning streak and scoring only the second goal in the run of the play the stingy Seattle backline has allowed all season.
He put to rest bad memories of his performance against New England last weekend, when he missed a couple of chances that he felt he should have converted.
HIGHLIGHTS: Seattle 0, Real Salt Lake 1
The goal, his 30th in an RSL kit, put him alone atop the all-time scoring list in club history.
But all those reasons took a back seat Saturday night.
“Of course, my first goal after my son was born, so I’m so happy for that,” Espíndola said after the victory, eight days after the birth of his son, Jayko. “Every goal is going to be for him now.”
On the play, Espíndola had to sidestep a defender and had only a split-second to get a quick foot on the ball. In the process, he had to pick out a spot so that he could put it past Seattle ‘keeper Bryan Meredith. And that’s exactly what he did.
“It’s a good combination between Luis [Gil], [Álvaro] Saborío and me,” explained Espindola of the key play on the night. “Sabo trying to hold the ball, and then Luis put it over the defenders and I finished after that. That’s a good goal.”
His head coach agreed wholeheartedly. But after giving his striker the night off during RSL’s midweek trip to Chicago, Jason Kreis was also glad Espíndola was able to perform at 100 percent after a week in which soccer took a backseat.
“I made the decision to play him [last Saturday vs. New England], which isn’t typical, but knowing how special those days can be, I thought it could be a really special night for him,” Kreis said of the new father. “It ended out that we had to take him out because of an ejection, tactical substitution, and we gave him a few nights rest. He didn’t even travel to Chicago. I thought he was spectacular tonight.”
Espíndola was monumental throughout the match. He made a number of nifty moves in the final third against multiple defenders to give his side some attacking chances, and he made an important challenge late in the match to make a long run back, which helped break up the chance for a Seattle equalizer.
For Espíndola, it was good to be able to contribute once again, with a little extra motivation.
“It feels great to be back,” he said. “I was cheering my team; you know I always want to play. It was good to be with my wife and son. Good to be back and score again, too.”