Playing without all-time scoring leader Álvaro Saborío, Real Salt Lake showed they have some offensive answers this season as two rookies, Devon Sandoval and Olmes García, both netted goals in their 2-1 come-from-behind win visiting the New England Revolution on Wednesday.
For Sandoval, it was his first career MLS goal, and it couldn't have come at a better time, as RSL trailed 1-0 in the 77th minute before the MLS SuperDraft second-round draft pick followed up a Sebastian Velasquez shot to hammer it home from just outside the six-yard box.
"Seba had the ball, and I was calling for him to shoot, cause I was right there," said Sandoval in a postgame TV interview. "He got it on frame. The 'keeper dropped it right to my feet. I had the easy part, just put it in."
And it is a good thing he did, as he learned later in the game.
"He just said, 'I think I would have killed you if you missed that one,'" said Sandoval of what coach Jason Kreis said to him as he was subbed off in the 83rd minute. "I responded, 'I think I would have killed myself.' The coaches were happy for me. I'm pretty happy finally to put one away."
Even without the goal, Kreis was happy with the young Sandoval's work rate and what he brought to the table against a New England defense that was very compact and practically bunkered for long stretches.
"Devon's put in another hard night at the office — running his butt off and trying to pressure everything he can and battling with their two giant center backs" said Kreis on his TV postgame interview. "Really credit to him. I think this goal is a long time coming for him. He was about to have a very upset coach at him because earlier he should have scored on a header. So I'm pleased that he stuck with it and got the goal."
Sandoval knew he was going to be up against a defensive-minded style of play coming in against a team that had conceded only six goals in eight games before Wednesday.
"We knew that coming into the game that's what their game plan was, so we just had to be patient — keep at our game," Sandoval said. "We were going to get through and get that goal. It was just a matter of time."
Garcia replaced Joao Plata in the 68th minute, and he immediately made an impact, harassing New England's back four. But it was his second career MLS goal, the game-winner in the 89th minute, that will be remembered.
"Garcia came in and again, big, big contribution from him to score the goal," said Kreis.
With both Saborio and Robbie Findley struggling with injuries, the emphasis will be on the young guns repeating an effort like they had Wednesday.