Real Salt Lake downs FC Dallas 2-0

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Real Salt Lake beat FC Dallas 2-0 in Saturday night’s home game between the MLS Western Conference powerhouses.

Second ranked FC Dallas came into Rio Tinto Stadium riding a three-game winning streak, while Real Salt Lake had pulled off an emotional 3-3 draw against the New England Revolution on Monday.

“This was a huge match for us,” RSL coach Jason Kreis said. “Dallas is the most formidable opponent we have.”

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Real Salt Lake forward Alvaro Saborio fights off an FC Dallas defender Saturday night at Rio Tinto Stadium.
It was a defensive battle in the first half of the game. After tireless effort and well-executed runs, each team was only able to get two shots off.

“We had a big focus on keeping the ball,” Kreis said. “That way we could really limit their chances. Everybody did what was asked of them.”

Tensions were high between the Western Conference rivals. With players jawing at and pushing each other, there were some hard hits in the first half. Four players were taken down within the first 11 minutes of the game. Dallas midfielder Andrew Jacobson had to leave the game after an injury in the 30th minute.

“They are a tough team,” RSL midfielder Kyle Beckerman said. “But so are we. We both played a physical game.”

Despite the hard hits and physical play, the referees let the players play. Dallas midfielder Jackson Goncalves even received a yellow card in the 37th minute for faking an injury and delaying the game.

RSL started the second half strong. In the 47th minute, midfielder Andy Williams scored the first goal of the game. The shot opportunity came off a free kick assist from Kyle Beckerman.

“Andy’s a great player,” Beckerman said. “He’s got tons of experience. We knew he could make that shot and so did he.”

He ripped the shot from about 30 yards out, and the ball bounced off the keeper’s hands and rolled across the line.

“We were very surprised,” Kreis said. “Kevin [Hartman, Dallas’s goalie] is extremely good against us, and we finally got the lucky bounce that we deserved.”

In the 85th minute, Goncalves made a run to try and tie the game and got past the keeper, but RSL defender Chris Wingert rushed in to clear the ball just before it crossed the line.

RSL kept up its offensive attack and had two great looks at the goal in the 89th minute.

RSL did not start its leading scorer Fabian Espindola, who scored Monday’s game-tying goal, because of a hamstring strain. He entered the game in the 66th minute and scored the late statement goal to bury the game in the final seconds of stoppage time.

“I don’t focus on goals,” Espindola said. “I focus on helping my team.”

Five of RSL’s key starting players got some extra rest because of substitutions in Saturday’s match. The extra rest will help RSL, who will face FC Dallas again Tuesday in Dallas for a quarterfinals matchup of the U.S. Open Cup.

“This win gives us confidence to go down to Dallas and hopefully be able to move on in the U.S. Cup,” Kreis said.

RSL’s next home game will be July 23 against the San Jose Earthquakes at 8 p.m. with a fireworks show afterward to celebrate Pioneer Day.

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