Faces of First Kick: Paulo Jr.

RSL Roundup: Paulo Jr. and RSL's killer instinct

SANDY, Utah – Real Salt Lake took the air out of the LA Galaxy early on Saturday. The opening goal in just the second minute started the deflation process, and the second one just seven minutes later completed it.

Though RSL captain Kyle Beckerman was on the better end of the 4-1 victory, he said he could relate to what the Galaxy went through.

“It’s tough,” Beckerman said. “Teams get tired, and a lot of things you had in mind before the game go out the door.”

[inline_node:332149]The victory showed that this year's RSL have a killer instinct. They pounced on their opponent when they were down and didn’t let up the pressure, ultimately scoring four before allowing a late goal by the Galaxy.

One player crucial to that scoreline was young Brazilian striker Paulo Jr., who saw his first league start in the match and made the most of it. He tallied his first MLS goal, registered his first MLS assist and setup another score by drawing a penalty.

WATCH: RSL-LA full match highlights

“He’s really good,” said teammate Javier Morales, who had a career game himself, scoring twice and adding an assist. “We’re lucky – the midfield – we’re lucky because we have pretty good forwards. … Everyone is ready to play, and everyone is playing good.”

Added Beckerman: "You see little things he does in practice that are special. It was fun out there seeing him get a shot.”


Paulo Jr. did receive some league-wide recognition for his performance and was named to MLSsoccer.com's Team of the Week.

However, it was the playmaker on the team, Morales, whose star shone most brightly. Morales was also named to MLSsoccer.com's Team of the Week, but he was given the added honor of MLS Player of the Week. The Player of the Week honor is voted on by select media members.

Paulo’s Vision

Paulo Jr.’s goal was created when two defenders went to snuff out the ball at midfield but let it bounce over them. Fabian Espindola took advantage of the miscue and picked up the ball nearly 40 yards away from goal.

“From the time Espíndola touched the ball I already knew I would score,” Paulo said through a translator. “I looked to him, and Espíndola looked at me, and I decided that I was going to put the ball inside the far post.”

[inline_node:321325]Gil Gets His Shot

Because of the lop-sided result, 17-year-old Luis Gil was able to see his first MLS action.

“Luis is somebody I’ve been really, really pleased with – throughout the whole preseason, throughout every single training session,” head coach Jason Kreis said. “I’ve seen real, real big steps forward in his game, and in his development. And so I’ve been wanting to, for a while now, reward him, and try to get him some minutes, and [Saturday] was the perfect opportunity.”

Big Week for the Coach

Kreis had quite the week – first came word that his jersey as an RSL player — No. 9 — was set to be retired later this summer. On the heels of that was the announcement that he had signed an extension through the 2013 season.

However, the game outranked the midweek festivities for Kreis.

“At the end of it all, I’ll take the game," Kreis said. "I’ll take the 45 minutes of watching my team playing unbelievably well, and they could have not announced the other stuff. That would have been just fine with me.”

Best Fans in the League?

Of course, every player has a biased opinion about the local fans. RSL’s Morales is no exception.

“For me, we have the best crowd in this league," the Argentine said. "I play in every city where we go, and some people say Seattle. Seattle has a lot of people, but they are not like our crowd.”

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