SANDY, Utah – Anyone who witnessed Real Salt Lake's win over Tauro FC of Panama Tuesday night at Rio Tinto Stadium saw something special, one play in particular that was off-the-charts spectacular. The 45-yard dribbling weave through the Tauro defense by RSL striker Paulo Jr. that keyed Álvario Saborio's opener displayed the speed, skill and creativity that RSL coaches knew was in him, the reason why they felt confident enough to continue giving him playing time.
HIGHLIGHTS: RSL 2, TAU 0
“It was a performance decision," said RSL coach Jason Kreis on the decision to start the young Brazilian over Fabian Espindola. "He started on Saturday (against FC Dallas) and I thought he did a good job, so I wanted to reward him on the good work he put in and give him another game in a row.
"I was surprised by his run up to goal, as surprised as the defenders around him. He really did well to get to where he had gotten, and then I want him to score."
Scoring, of course, is every striker's main purpose. Paulo Jr., 23, hasn't found the back of the net since April 4 in a 1-0 win over the Montreal Impact. He has done well to create chances, but has struggled finishing the play.
"He had two or three clear-cut chances," said Kreis. "Towards the end of the game, he was weaving through on the left side of the goal and passes it to Javier, and I would argue that he should finish it himself. ”
Still, his magic was the reason RSL broke the ice Tuesday night.
"They played me the ball, and I was just one-on-one one a guy and then one-on-one against the 'keeper. I took the shot, and luckily Sabo was there to finish the play," said Paulo Jr. through an interpreter.
Although Paulo Jr. also had a couple of plays he would like to have back – a 1-v-1 chance in the first half where he was denied twice and an off-target left-footed shot on the break being the most notable – he has largely been creative and effective up top.
"I am very happy with him because he played very well today," said Saborio following the Tauro game. "Now, we have to continue with it and keep things happy."