SANDY, Utah – Paulo Jr. provided the spark needed, and Álvaro Saborío and Kyle Beckerman lit the fire as Real Salt Lake posted a 2-0 win over Panamanian champions Tauro FC to claim a vital CONCACAF Champions League win Tuesday night at Rio Tinto Stadium.
The Brazilian striker provided the magic needed to break the barrier on the net after a scoreless first half. Saborío was the benefactor, but it was the Brazilian's incredible 40-yard run, beating two defenders in the process to put himself 15 yards from goal that got things going. Though his initial attempt was saved, Saborío was on hand to easily put away the rebound.
The goal stood up as a winner in a must-win match for RSL, taking them ahead of Herediano on goal differential in Group 2, though the Claret-and-Cobalt have played one more game than their Costa Rican rivals, whom they fell to 1-0 in their opening match of the competition.
Real faced a bunkered-in defense that made the most of every foul, but nearly broke through the 36th minute. Ned Grabavoy collected a short clearance at the top of the box, settled, and ripped a left-foot blast that cannoned off the left post and back out.
Paulo probably should have given the Claret and Cobalt the lead three minutes later, but in what became a recurring theme, Tauro 'keeper Álvaro Anzola came up huge, stopping an initial shot and a quick rebound after.
Saborío was next in the line of RSL near-misses. In the 45th minute, after a couple of different touches in the box, the ball bounded up high, leaving Saborío to leap up and head goalwards, only for Anzola to make another spectacular save to keep things level.
The stats reflected the home side's dominance, as RSL outshot Tauro 11-2 with a 61-39 advantage in possesion, but the two sides were level on the scoreboard. Paulo and Saborío changed that just minutes into the second half.
And RSL captain Beckerman pretty much iced the suspense in the 58th minute. Unlike the first goal, Paulo was credited with the assist this time. He took the ball down the left side before cutting the ball back just outside the penalty area to Beckerman. After one fake to the right, he cut the ball back to his left foot and hit a rocket to the bottom-right corner of the net.
The end of the game wasn't all rosy for Real, though, as Beckerman saw a straight red card for dangerous play. The scrappy midfielder went into a challenge at midfield with his studs well up, leaving little doubt for the referee.
The red card means Beckerman will be merely a spectator when RSL visits Panama Sept. 18 for their third game of the four-team CONCACAF group play. In the meantime, they will look ahead to a Friday trip to the Philadelphia Union.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Kyle Beckerman||Rash challenge led to deserved red card, but was superb for over 70 minutes, making countless plays in front of the RSL backline and lashing home an important insurance goal|
|2||Paulo Jr.||Forward's finishing left something to be desired, but was unlucky not to record an assist in his brilliant setup for the opener and finally did get the assist in setting up the insurance goal|
|3||Will Johnson||RSL's unsung hero, the Canadian's work rate and commitment were unquestionable, making him a force in midfield|