Real Salt Lake extended their unbeaten start to the 2016 campaign with a hard-earned 1-0 victory over the slumping Vancouver Whitecaps at Rio Tinto Stadium on Saturday. Juan Manuel “Burrito” Martinez netted the game-winner early in the second half.
Joao Plata served up the assist and was again instrumental for RSL; the Ecuadoran has now played a part in eight of his team's 10 goals this season. Salt Lake (4-0-2; 14 poitns) climbed into a tie with FC Dallas atop the overall league standings – pending FCD's match vs. Sporting Kansas City on Sunday.
Both RSL and the 'Caps fielded attack-minded lineups and carved out plenty of chances, but usually lacked the final touch in blustery conditions along the Wasatch Front.
In the end, Burrito's relentless flair and trickery was too much for a goal-starved Whitecaps outfit who've been held scoreless in their last three games and have now slipped to a 2-4-1 record.
- NO JAVI, NO PROBLEM: Javier Morales missed another match, this time due to illness, but Luke Mulholland and the rest of the RSL midfield made due just fine. The home team were pushed back by Vancouver's early flurry of domination, but weathered that storm and gave Plata and Martinez a stable platform on which to work their attacking magic.
- PLATA STAYS GOLDEN: RSL's diminutive dynamo might be the hottest player in MLS at the moment, with four goals and four assists to his name just six games into the year. His growing telepathy with Martinez should give the rest of the Western Conference pause.
- BONE-DRY WHITECAPS: Carl Robinson keeps trying new personnel and new partnerships, but the goals just aren't coming for VWFC. Octavio Rivero and Nicolas Mezquida were particularly unlucky not to find the net in this one, but at the end of the day, the squad has a mere six goals in seven matches played.