SANDY, Utah — Real Salt Lake are a team that is used to having the lion’s share of possession, especially at home. They are also used to being the aggressors and taking the game to their opponent.
Though FC Dallas did a good job of disrupting that on Saturday at Rio Tinto Stadium, at least in the first half, the hosts ultimately came out on top, defeating FCD 2-0. The win ensures RSL finish the regular season unbeaten home.
WATCH: Full match highlights
“In the first half I think they had a really aggressive mindset," RSL head coach Jason Kreis said. "I think they wanted to defend in our half. I think they caused us some problems that I don’t think any team has this year — at least in our stadium.”
“Once we had a chance to settle down and talk to the guys at halftime, credit to them," he added. "They did a great job. [They] made some adjustments and played much, much better in the second half.”
Ned Grabavoy took that halftime discussion to heart as the opening goal of the match came as a direct result of him staying higher on the pitch.
“We talked at halftime about trying to stay higher – at least one guy stay higher – or at least stay more spread out, so we could interchange.”
Grabavoy made an enterprising run through the middle and got ahead of defender Ugo Ihemelu inside the box. Meeting Robbie Russell's chip forward, Grabavoy was able to leap and toss a header over goalkeeper Dario Sala, who had come off his line to try to meet the play.
One of the smallest players on the field at 5-foot-11, Grabavoy admitted his headed goal was a rarity for him.
“[My] first," he said, "and it’s probably gonna be the last."
Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando also made an important play in the game, stopping an unmarked Jeff Cunningham in the second half to keep the Dallas striker from taking full possession of the league's all-time scoring record. Cunningham has 132 MLS goals, which ties the all-time scoring mark with D.C. United's Jaime Moreno.
“Obviously that’s in the back of your head that Jeff’s going to make some records,” Rimando said, “but you just live in the moment right there, and he’s just another striker trying to take a shot, and I’m just trying to save the ball. And it went on my side this time.”
The result was another RSL clean sheet, their 15th of the season — one short of the league record of 16 set by Kansas City.
The win, combined with the LA Galaxy's 3-1 loss to the Colorado Rapids, pulls Real Salt Lake to within a point of LA and takes the race for the Supporters' Shield to the final game of the season.