New England's Pat Phelan (left) challenges Real Salt Lake's Dema Kovalenko on Saturday night.
AP Photos

Real Salt Lake flex home muscles

Tino Nunez helped Real Salt Lake finally grind the rust off of their offense Saturday night to extend the club's unbeaten streak to a team-record five games.

Nunez, a rookie forward out of UC-Santa Barbara, scored his first career MLS goal in the 60th minute to lift RSL to a 2-1 victory against the New England Revolution at Rice-Eccles Stadium. It was the Utah club's first home match win in the month of June following consecutive scoreless draws.

RSL remained unbeaten at home this season, now with four wins and four ties in eight games in Salt Lake City, while the Revolution lost for the first time since May 3 as their seven-game unbeaten streak came to an end.

RSL established a new club record in the first half, extending their shutout streak to 283 minutes before New England got on the board in the eighth minute.

The Revolution went up 1-0 when Adam Cristman nodded the ball past Real 'keeper Nick Rimando. New England goalkeeper Matt Reis sent a long clearance downfield, and as RSL defender Nat Borchers backtracked, he looked toward Rimando who had come off his line as the ball bounced high into the air. Instead, Cristman slipped inside Borchers and headed the ball over Rimando from the top of the area into the goal.

But the Revolution wasted no time giving their newfound advantage away. RSL tied it up in the 11th minute when Jay Heaps deflected the ball backward past Reis. Javier Morales swung a free kick into the center of the area to Robbie Findley. Heaps tried to block Findley as he went for a header, but ended up instead heading it past Reis.

RSL worked hard to add another goal to tally throughout the first half but managed to find a way to come up short each time.

Morales gathered the ball near the upper corner of the penalty area in the 13th minute and tried to slingshot it over Reis' head. Reis initially failed to get his fingers around the ball, but pulled it down on second effort just before another Real player could get to it.

Morales tried to make something happen again in the 21st minute when he swung a free kick to Beckerman along the left side of the area. Beckerman headed the ball backward -- and his shot landed square in Reis' hands.

RSL had another golden opportunity slip away a few minutes later. Beltran fed the ball to Deuchar in the goalmouth in the 26th minute. He and Reis went up for the ball at the same time while it was still airborne. Deuchar had position behind him, but Reis managed to bat the ball to safety outside the six-yard box.

New England saw its best chance before halftime come in the 34th minute when Sainey Nyassi drove toward Rimando from an angle on the right and drilled a hard right-footed volley off a Kheli Dube cross. Rimando made an outstanding save when he dove forward and blocked the line drive shot away.

RSL suffered another blow to its ailing frontline when Findley had to be helped off the field in the 41st minute, to be replaced by Nunez.

Deuchar tried to make up for Findley's absence early in the second half, but struggled with his finishing once again. Beltran crossed to Deuchar from the far end of the box to the left post in the 53rd minute. Deuchar attempted to force a header between Reis and the post, but the Revs 'keeper snatched it out of the air.

Nunez finally broke through for RSL in the 60th minute. Morales collected the ball near the top of the area and tried a shot at goal. The ball took a deflection and fell right to the feet of Nunez, who was kept onside by a New England defender. In alone on Reis as the goalkeeper came off his line, the rookie rifled the ball behind him and into an empty net for his first MLS goal.

With both teams coming off ties at midweek, but the Revolution with a cross-country trip in between while RSL had back-to-back home games, New England tried vainly to come back after the go-ahead goal.

First, in the 68th minute, Albright redirected a corner kick with a header that sent Rimando scrambling before it bounced inches wide of the wrong side of the post. Two minutes later Jeff Larentowicz, who scored on a blast in his last visit to Rice-Eccles Stadium, fired a 25-yard turf-burner that was saved by Rimando.

Then Cristman drove into the Salt Lake penalty area 10 minutes from time and, while battling with Borchers, belted a shot at the near post that was pushed over the end line at the last moment by a diving Rimando.

Matias Cordoba nearly added a third goal for RSL in stoppage time. Morales won the ball with a great tackle just outside the top of the box and then laid the ball off to Cordoba on the right. Cordoba cut the ball back and tried to curve it inside the near post, but it went just wide instead.

John Coon is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.

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