SANDY, Utah – Álvaro Saborío scored a brace for goals No. 12 and 13 on the season to help lead Real Salt Lake to a 2-1 win over the Vancouver Whitecaps on Friday night at Rio Tinto Stadium.
The Costa Rican forward scored on either side of halftime, while Darren Mattocks scored the lone goal of the game for the Whitecaps, taking the rookie's total to seven goals on the season, though he missed two good chances to add to that total.
The win pulls Real Salt Lake (11-7-3, 42 points) to within one point of the San Jose Earthquakes in the race for the Supporters' Shield and Western Conference title, with the Earthquakes in action on Saturday against Chicago. The Whitecaps (9-7-7, 34 points) remain stuck in third place in the West.
HIGHLIGHTS: RSL 2, VAN 1
The battle between the No. 2 and No. 3 teams in the Western Conference took a couple of drastic swings. The first big swing went the way of the home team as Vancouver captain Jay DeMerit handled a Fabián Espíndola cross in his own area in the 33rd minute while going up for a ball with Kyle Beckerman.
Saborío finished the ensuing penalty kick for the only goal of the opening 45 minutes.
Vancouver was responsible for the next shift in momentum. In the 52nd minute, Camilo sent a beautifully weighted ball over the top of the RSL defense to a streaking Darren Mattocks. The speedy forward beat RSL 'keeper Nick Rimando to the ball and after a touch past him, slotted the goal into the empty net.
Vancouver nearly capitalized on their newfound vigor only one minute later as Mattocks again chased down a ball over the top. This time, however, he hit the ball back to the trailing Jun Marques Davidson, who fired the ball one-time toward the left corner. The woodwork wasn't Davidson's friend, however, as the ball caromed straight back out and was cleared away.
RSL, however, snatched back the momentum and rode it to the win in the 58th minute. After coming on as a substitute at the 56-minute mark, midfielder Ned Grabavoy took little time in making an impact.
A deep run down the right flank allowed the fresh midfielder to hit the ball back to Javier Morales. The RSL playmaker looked up, found Saborío in the middle and put a ball up to the Costa Rican goalscoring machine for a textbook header to the lower-left corner of the net for his sixth goal in the past four games.
There were a couple of other great chances through the final 30 minutes as Camilo had a blast from inside the box that Rimando was able to parry away, and the newly-acquired Kenny Miller sent a snap header just wide of the post in his bid to get a first MLS goal for the ‘Caps.
Real caught a break in the 76th minute when Espíndola tracked down a poorly hit back pass and tried to push the ball around Whitecaps 'keeper Joe Cannon, who was forced to use his hands intentionally outside the box, resulting in an automatic red card.
With nothing to lose, the visitors threw everything forward in search of an equalizer, but RSL held up to collect a vital three points.
Real now turn their attention to the CONCACAF Champions League, where they travel to play Costa Rican champions Herediano on July 31. Vancouver now have a two-week break in MLS action before hosting RSL on Aug. 11.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Álvaro Saborío||The Costa Rican has run rampant in July and added some excellent hold up play to his game-winning brace|
|2||Javier Morales||A classic performance from the playmaker, who paced RSL's offense and set up Saborio's game-winner|
|3||Barry Robson||His free kick at the death will leave a bad taste, but the tenacious midfielder was impressive at the heart of the 'Caps midfield for 90 minutes|