<strong>SANDY—</strong> After a 1-0 loss in its first CONCACAF Champions League match of the season, Real Salt Lake bounced back with a 2-0 victory at home Tuesday over Tauro FC. The Claret and Cobalt also ended a four-game losing streak in the do or die situation.
“Now we feel like we can win the next couple of months and hopefully we can continue to play well,” RSL forward Alvaro Saborio said.
Despite a furious attack in the first half, RSL could not find the back of the net. Forward Paulo Junior, who started in place of forward Fabian Espindola, had a clear shot to the net just two minutes into the match from 18 yards out. That shot missed wide left, and Junior would miss again on back-to-back chances in the 39th minute.
“It was a performance decision,” RSL head coach Jason Kreis said of Junior’s start. “He started on Saturday and I thought he did a really good job. I wanted to reward for all the hard work he had put in by getting another game in a row. He’s a player, when you think about it, he’s gotten one game and then not another game for one month or two months, and then he gets a game and he’s out for another month or two months. A player like that maybe deserves to get two games in a row.”
RSL had 11 shots in the first half and four of those were on goal. Midfielder Ned Grabavoy had three opportunities himself in the first half to score.
“Obviously in the first half I think we were right on the brink of driving ourselves to madness with frustration for not scoring a goal in the first half after so many chances,” Kreis said.
Part of that struggle came from the tactics Tauro used during the entire match.
“They came to get a draw,” RSL defender Will Johnson said. “I think it was pretty clear what they wanted to do. They wanted to sit in and they did that pretty well in the first half. Once we were able to open them up and get that first goal, it was a completely different game.”
RSL finally broke through early in the second half and it was Junior who led the attack. The Brazilian native took the ball from midfield and weaved through a host of Tauro defenders before launching a strike inside the box. The shot was slightly off and Saborio was there to clean up for a 1-0 lead in the 48th minute.
The second goal came in the 58th minute and once again the ball went through Junior before hitting the back of the net. Junior set up midfielder Kyle Beckerman at the top of the box, Beckermen settled with his right and punched it to the lower corner of the net with his left.
“I think we’re in a good spot, but I wouldn’t go any further than that,” Kreis said. “I think that we did ourselves right tonight by getting a result and getting a 2-0 result. It could be important, but it’s going to hurt to not have our captain at the next match.”
Beckerman, who had drawn two red cards already this season, drew his third of the season in the 72nd minute. Regardless of who was at fault, Kreis did not like what the ejection did to the tempo of the game for his team.
“I think it was pretty close,” Kreis said of performing a full 90 minutes. “I felt like we were the team that was pushing things for most of the ninety minutes. The ejection caused us not to be able to play a complete match, because we were on our heels as you would be with 10 men.
“If it hadn’t been for the ejection, I think we would have been able to score more goals.”
The fact that this is Beckerman’s third ejection of the season, and that he won’t be serviceable for the next CONCACAF Champions League match is also a point of concern.
“It’s something that concerns me,” Kreis said. “I don’t like to see my players pick up ejections in any matches. Every one you have to look at individually and look at the tape and decide whether there was something there that was completely wrong call, or whether there was some culpability by the player.
“We are going to harp on the same message that if you put yourself in a position for referees to make decisions, sometimes they are going to make the wrong ones and it’s going to affect the team.”
RSL will be back in action Friday when they travel to take on Philadelphia Union at 5:30 p.m. MT.
<em>Photos by Curtis Ripplinger</em>