RSL midfielder Clint Mathis celebrates his long free-kick goal Saturday night.
Kent Horner/MLS/

RSL show their mettle in victory

SALT LAKE CITY - Real Salt Lake came into the match against FC Dallas on Saturday night with something to prove. Having allowed 14 goals in their previous three matches - all losses - RSL scored three goals in the opening half hour, then kept one the league's most potent attacks at bay for a 3-0 victory against the Western Conference leaders.

"I think the key for us tonight was that everyone on the field played defense," said RSL defender Brian Dunseth. "We are a better team than one that gives up five or six goals a game and tonight we proved that."

With a 3-0 scoreline, at first glance defense wouldn't seem to be the name of the game. But after hitting for the three quick goals, it's where Real claimed victory.

The addition of ex-Galaxy defender Paul Broome helped shore up what had been a weak left side.

"Paul played a great game tonight," said Real coach John Ellinger. "We can definitely go ahead with him as our starting left back."

Broome helped secure the back four, but even the best defense lets a few balls through on any given night. But when that happened D.J. Countess was on top of everything, coming up big on several occasions.

"He (Countess) controlled the box better than he has in past games," said Ellinger. "Defensively things worked out for us tonight - we gained some valuable momentum."

Defense might have held onto the lead, but several offensive players stepped up to make an impact, starting with Clint Mathis.

After struggling offensively for the first half of the season, Mathis broke out and created two goals, both from free kicks. The first was a nice ball in to Brian Dunseth for the assist on the night's first goal. The second was a 40-yard rocket just inside the near post off another free kick.

"My role with this team is different than others I have played with," Mathis said. "Tonight I just wanted to get the ball on frame."

With his offensive output up, so was the morale of the entire team.

"Tonight is a perfect example of what we are capable of and what we need to continue to do," Mathis said.

And if they continue to do what they did against FC Dallas, Real Salt Lake will be a force after the All-Star break.

David Hale is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.

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