Perhaps there is some type of justice in soccer — at least for Real Salt Lake forward Fabián Espíndola. The Argentine fireball had a brace Saturday night while leading RSL in a 2-1 win over the LA Galaxy at the Home Depot Center, and moving the Claret-and-Cobalt into sole possession of second place in the Western Conference.
They’re now five points clear of LA with two games remaining, and six points in front of Seattle, who suit up on Sunday against Portland and have another game in hand.
Although RSL went down a goal early in the 17th minute, Espíndola made sure it wasn't long before RSL were back in it. He scored on a left-footed blast just inside the penalty area in the 25th minute, and then gave the team the lead for good just three minutes later on a world-class header off a Javier Morales cross from near the penalty spot.
"He was spectacular tonight," head coach Jason Kreis said. "Obviously, the two goals were quite nice and special, but the amount of work that he did for us defensively and trying to find spots to help out the rest of the team on the other side of the ball, that's critical."
Espíndola scored his first goal since June in RSL's game against Portland two weeks ago, and then had three assists against Chivas last week at the Home Depot Center, a place he likes to play.
"I like playing against LA. This is a huge field — difficult to mark, and I think it's good for us," he said.
His brace against the Galaxy was perhaps an indication that Espíndola has found his form just in time for the postseason.
"I think it's like any goal scorer," Kreis said. "They are going to go through moments in their career where they can't seem to figure out, can't make that final pass, can't make that final touch where it needs to go to score a goal or assist a goal. But then it comes right, and when it comes right it usually come right in bunches.
“I'm very glad to see that things are going right for him now, and we are going to do everything we can to continue on his run."
According to teammate Tony Beltran, Espíndola’s recent success certainly isn't a surprise.
"I've seen it in training. He's been absolutely flying," Beltran. "We all know how gifted a player he is, and he has really shown that in the last two games, you know last game assisting those goals and tonight taking those goals. He is in great form right now."
As the Claret and Cobalt prepare for the last two games of the regular season and then the playoffs, the hope is Espíndola can continue his spectacular run.
"Maybe there is just a little bit of relaxation, to just kind of take the weight off your shoulders and say, 'I believe it's going to come if I do the right things and I work extremely hard in the training sessions. … at some point it's going to come right for me,” Kreis said. “Biggest thing maybe is he is just relaxed."