SANDY, Utah – The worst team in Major League Soccer proved to be just the prescription for ailing Real Salt Lake, who rode an Olmes Garcia brace off the bench to claim to a 3-1 victory over the Montreal Impact on Thursday at Rio Tinto Stadium.
But these days, nothing is easy for RSL. And the win over the Impact was anything but.
The game was well-balanced until Montreal went down a man in the 65th minute, after referee Drew Fischer issued a red card to midfielder Issey Nakajima-Farran for a studs-up challenge on RSL defender Chris Schuler. RSL had 25-plus minutes with a man advantage, and made them count as Garcia connected in the 70th and 93rd minutes on a pair of assists from Javier Morales. The goals were Garcia's first since July 13, 2013.
The loss was the fourth straight for Montreal (3-11-5, 14 points), and they only have one win in their last seven. Real Salt Lake (8-4-8, 32 points) picked up just their second win in their last nine games, and now sit six points behind Western Conference and Supporters' Shield leaders Seattle Sounders.
The home team wasted no time getting on the board to begin the game, going up 1-0 in the third minute. Schuler kept a a corner kick by Morales alive, and the ball landed at the feet of midfielder Luke Mulholland. He blasted it past Montreal goalkeeper Evan Bush for his fifth goal of the season to give RSL the lead.
It was Schuler's first assist of 2014 and only the second of his MLS career.
Though RSL controlled the early part of the game, Montreal battled back and produced several good chances, but failed to convert until the 31st minute. Defender Hassoun Camara scored his first goal of the season, taking a layoff from midfielder Calum Mallace and sliding it past RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando first-time on a play that looked far easier than the Claret-and-Cobalt would have liked.
Not that Rimando had an off night, as he most notably preserved the lead for his team in the 77th minute, fending off a rocket from Andres Romero that could have cost RSL the victory.
However, that first-half goal meant Rimando is still one game away from tying the MLS all-time shutout record of 112 after claiming his last clean sheet on April 19.
Rimando's counterpart also had his moment in the spotlight, as Bush made a great reaction save on Morales from point-blank range in the 61st minute before denying Garcia's follow-up.
He could only watch after Nakajima-Farran's ejection, though, as Garcia first flicked a pinpoint header off a cross from Morales into the far corner of the net, before icing the game in stoppage time with a rifled finish from the right.
Real Salt Lake continue their summer slate with a pair of games this coming week – at home against New York on Wednesday and on the road at Colorado next weekend in the second of three games this season in the Rocky Mountain Cup. Montreal, meanwhile, will host the Portland Timbers on August 3.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Javier Morales||Not a perfect game, but he produced the quality RSL needed after going up a man, delivering two pinpoint assists to secure three points.|
|2||Ned Grabavoy||A typical Grabavoy game - didn't pop up on the scoresheet, but he more than anyone kept RSL's midfield cohesive against a stubborn Impact side|
|3||Olmes Garcia||Two goals off the bench will be a huge boost for the young Colombian after having failed to find the net over the last year|