WASHINGTON – Real Salt Lake are suddenly emerging as the Western Conference’s latest road warriors, even after their most recent away trip was extended by an extra night.
The Claret and Cobalt have won three straight away from Rio Tinto Stadium after completing a 1-0 victory against D.C. United in a game that resumed Sunday evening, after torrential storms forced play to be suspended on Saturday night.
After two previous road wins that came in dominating fashion, this time Salt Lake played the role of patient predators, absorbing D.C.’s pressure for an opening hour – played over two evenings – before pouncing through Luis Silva’s emphatic 64th-minute volley.
“We came out sharper today, and the energy was there,” said Silva, who scored his second goal of the season and first against D.C. since leaving the club midway through the 2015 season. “I knew I was going to get one more chance, and I put it away.”
Said coach Mike Petke: "We knew in the second half it would open up, and it happened that way."
Silva’s goal, coming on RSL’s first shot on target, helped the visitors extend an unorthodox six-match unbeaten run that includes three away wins and three home draws.
They now sit three points beneath the playoff line in the Western Conference after their first-ever win at RFK Stadium in this 10th and final trip.
Petke attributes that improved form to his players' increased commitment, and not anything he instilled in the team since he was hired in late March.
“It’s my job as a coach and a leader to say this is what I want you to do, this is how I want you to do it,” Petke said. “But it all comes down to the players, if they’re willing to take that, if they’re willing to sacrifice, and do the things we’re asking from them. They’ve done a fantastic job. Their mentality has really changed.”
Meanwhile, United was left to rue a seventh home shutout to close out a week that began with the most optimistic around East Capitol Street in months. They are now winless in eight games.
Paul Arriola went the full 90 in his club debut after serving as the headline name of the four players last-place D.C. acquired in the MLS secondary transfer window.
Problems remained up front for the Black-and-Red, who struggled for ideas after Silva’s smash from just inside the penalty area.
“Sixty minutes of what we need to do to win games,” visibly frustrated D.C. coach Ben Olsen said of the performance. “Sixty minutes, what's that worth? Nothing. Another loss is what 60 minutes of high-level stuff gets you.”