May 5, 2013 - Major League Soccer (MLS) - Real Salt Lake
SANDY, Utah - Real Salt Lake (4-4-2, 14 points, T-2 in West) closed out its three-game home stand in style on Saturday night, getting second half goals from MF's Luis Gil and Javier Morales to beat Vancouver Whitecaps FC (2-4-3, 9 points, #8 in West) 2-0 at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Gil gave RSL the lead in the 47th minute, finishing off a textbook counterattack that began with a goal kick from Claret-and-Cobalt GK Nick Rimando. Morales doubled RSL's lead in the 71st, putting the exclamation mark on a nice buildup with a slotted finish from 12 yards out. FW Joao Plata assisted on both plays, giving him four helpers on the season, the most in MLS.
Real Salt Lake controlled the match from the start, setting the tempo and controlling possession throughout the first 45 minutes. The Utah side couldn't quite pick out the final ball, however, and struggled to create many clear-cut opportunities in the opening frame.
RSL's best first half chance came in the 39th minute, when DF Chris Schuler nodded a Morales corner kick just wide of the far post from six yards out in the left side of the area.
Oddly enough considering its first half possession advantage, RSL's opener came on a counterattack. Rimando started the play, rifling a goal kick to Plata on the right side. The Ecuadorian attacker collected the ball and took one touch before curling an inch-perfect cross to Gil in the middle. The U.S. Under-20 international did the rest, padding his header past onrushing Vancouver GK Joe Cannon, off of the right post and into the back of the net.
Unfortunately, Gil suffered a right ankle contusion on the play and had to be taken off due to the injury seven minutes later.
Vancouver livened up a bit after falling behind, holding more of the ball and creating a couple of decent looks at an equalizer.
Whitecaps FC's first good look came in the 59th minute, FW Camilo curled a teasing effort just over the bar after picking up a loose corner kick 15 yards out. Vancouver had an even better opportunity in the 62nd minute. FW Corey Hertzog ran onto a long ball behind the RSL defense on the right side and beat Rimando with a shot from six yards only for RSL DF Nat Borchers to slide in and heroically clear the ball off the line.
Morales doubled RSL's lead in the 72nd minute. The Argentine playmaker started the play, chipping a ball from the center circle to substitute MF Sebastian Velasquez on the right side. Velasquez cut in and played a fine left-footed pass to Plata on the right side, allowing the diminutive attacker to square a ball to Morales for a slotted finish from just to the right of the penalty spot.
Real Salt Lake saw out the rest of the match with relative ease. The Claret-and-Cobalt will play two games at Eastern Conference opponents next week, taking on the New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium on Wednesday, May 8 before heading north of the border to take on the Montreal Impact at Stade Saputo on Saturday, May 11.