Don’t look now, but Real Salt Lake are six points back from the top of the Western Conference table after their 2-0 victory over FC Dallas Saturday night in Utah.
It was the third match in seven days and the second consecutive victory over a top Western Conference side after defeating previous co-leader and rival Sporting Kansas City 4-2 Wednesday night.
- Possession: RSL 61%-39% over FC Dallas
- No yellow or red cards for either team
Man of the Match:
Awarded to: Jefferson Savarino
- One key save on a corner, plus one assist in stoppage time to secure the victory.
FC Dallas and RSL came into the match on two days rest each, but the altitude and home field advantage proved too much for the Oscar Pareja’s side in the end. From the outset of the match FC Dallas were going to try and bunker down to get a result away from Frisco after they earned a comeback victory three days earlier against Atlanta United.
The bunker strategy didn’t last long for FC Dallas when Bofo Saucedo drew a penalty for RSL in the box and Albert Rusnak slotted it away in the 11th minute to give the home side a 1-0 lead. RSL dominated possession for much of the game and ran FC Dallas’s tired legs having them chase pass after pass.
FC Dallas had their best chance to equalise in the 71st minute when a header from Matt Hedges was miraculously saved by Jefferson Savarino when he was sitting on the near post side. RSL continued their control of the game and a counterattack in stoppage time led to a goal by Luis Silva which was beautifully assisted by Savarino to make it 2-0. FC Dallas goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez had no chance in no-man’s land.
FC Dallas (10-5-3) still hold top of the table in the Western Conference with 35 points with LAFC just a point behind them. RSL (9-2-8) sit tied at fourth in the table with Portland Timbers with 29 points and occupy a playoff spot. RSL improved their home record to 8-1-1 on the season and an impressive 17-4-4 under manager Mike Petke. The fortress RioT has returned to Utah.
The greatest achievement of the match was largely what was seen in the starting lineups for both squads. Ten players, five for each side, were homegrown players. Another homegrown would make an appearance in the match, but the look of the game showed me something that I’ve wanted to see in Major League Soccer. Homegrown players making an impact for their clubs and those clubs succeeding.
RSL’s co-leader in goals, Corey Baird, is a homegrown talent and FC Dallas for the past few years has been gold standard for clubs in America when it comes to player and academy development. The new Zions Bank Real Academy is a training complex in suburban Salt Lake City and is now the envy of every club in North America and even in Europe. The complex will host the 2018 German Cup Champion Eintracht Frankfurt for most of their stay in the United States as they train for the preseason.
Next up for FC Dallas is a home match against the Chicago Fire on July 14th. RSL have a friendly hosting the aforementioned Bundesliga club Eintracht Frankfurt on Tuesday night in Sandy before hitting the road for an away match at Minnesota on Saturday. RSL need a positive result to keep their playoff push going forward.
Written by Allen Corbin – (@AllenCorbin)