TORONTO – Yordany Alvarez scored his first goal of the season to propel Real Salt Lake to a 1-0 victory over Toronto FC in front of 20,841 in attendance at BMO Field on Saturday afternoon.
The lone goal of the match arrived just before halftime when Alvarez launched a rocket of a shot from outside the box that beat TFC keeper Joe Bendik and found the inside of the far post. In addition to extending Real Salt Lake’s unbeaten streak to six games and ending Toronto's three-game undefeated run, the tally by the Cuban midfielder marked the first-ever goal scored by RSL in Toronto.
By picking up their first-ever victory in Toronto, Real Salt Lake ensured that they will at the least remain in a tie for first place in the Western Conference with 33 points from 18 games. For TFC, the result means they are still looking for their first league victory at home this season.
TFC head coach Ryan Nelsen attempted to kick-start a comeback by subbing in attacking midfielder Luis Silva and forward Justin Braun early in the second half, but the Reds continued to struggle to generate scoring chances against a Salt Lake side that stayed compact defensively and benefited from goalkeeper Nick Rimando being perfectly placed on most of the balls that found their way inside the box.
The game took something of a turn when both teams went down to ten men in 79th minute following a melee set off after a clash between Salt Lake’s Tony Beltran and Silva. Beltran pushed Silva -- who, in replays, appeared to kick out at Beltran -- and Toronto central defender Doneil Henry then shoved Beltran to the ground. Both Beltran and Henry earned straight red cards.
Toronto came extremely close to scoring an equalizer during injury time, first on an initial play in which forward Jeremy Brockie headed a cross from Braun from close range before Rimando came up with a stellar reaction save to preserve the victory. Salt Lake defender Nat Borchers then cleared the ball off the goal line less than a minute later and TFC defender Steven Caldwell scuffed a shot on open net from in close in the final seconds of the game.
In addition to several firsts for Real Salt Lake, Saturday also marked the first start by TFC Designated Player Danny Koevermans since the big Dutchman went down with a season-ending injury against the New England Revolution last July.
Real Salt Lake will be back in action at home on Wednesday, July 3 against the Philadelphia Union. Toronto, meanwhile, will also play midweek as they take on Canadian rivals the Montreal Impact in their second straight fixture at BMO Field.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Nick Rimando||The RSL goalkeeper not only came up big in the dying moments of the match, but he also was positionally sound throught much of the match.|
|2||Olmes Garcia||Set up the winning goal and drew several fouls from frustrated Toronto FC midfielders and defenders.|
|3||Yordany Alvarez||Took his late first-half chance with aplomb and proved a handful all day for TFC's defenders.|