Sandy • These days, Real Salt Lake can’t play a game without creating some form of challenge for itself.
It was no different during Saturday’s MSL matchup against visiting New England (3-6-0). Despite playing a man down more than 20 minutes, RSL (7-3-1) defended its home turf, 2-1.
The 18, 219 spectators at Rio Tinto Stadium had barely settled in after celebrating Alvaro Saborio’s second goal, coming in the 55th minute, when Will Johnson was sent off with a red card for a hard foul on Clyde Simms in the 59th.
Referee David Ganter at first showed a yellow, but changed his decision following a conversation with the referee’s assistant. Both sides played a man down in the 81st minute when Fernando Cardenas was shown a controversial red card.
As for the game winner, Saborio converted a header for his second goal of the match. He found space in the pack as Javier Morales floated a free kick toward goal from about 30 yards out.
Then, in the 71st minute, RSL goal keeper Nick Rimando kept RSL in front with two brilliant saves within seconds of each other. Moments after punching a shot over the crossbar, he stretched out to save a point blank effort from a corner kick.
Rimando saved RSL once again in stoppage time.
Saborio and Ned Grabavoy came within inches of scoring late in the half. Only New England keeper Matt Reis kept the score close.
Real Salt Lake nearly wasted a dominant performance in the first half against New England. As it was, RSL still only managed to salvage a 1-1 tie going into halftime.
Saborio finally broke through late in the first half. Saborio’s goal - a quick opportunity taken during a scramble in front of goal following a corner kick in the 33rd minute - pulled RSL even with New England.
From the very start, Real Salt Lake threatened the New England goal. RSL dominated possession throughout and remained threatening even down a player.
The Revolution, thanks to an accurate, bending shot into the right side of the RSL goal by Blake Brettschneider, scored first in the 22nd minute.
Brettschnieder took a pass just outside the RSL 18, dribbled toward the middle and let loose his scoring volley. The defensive breakdown and goal came totally against the flow of play, one dominated by RSL.
A minute hadn’t gone by before Saborio had the Revolution on its heels and Reis scrambling to make a diving, smothering save inside the 18-yard box.
In the fifth minute, Reis once again foiled a Real scoring chance. This time, it was Fabian Espindola who failed to convert a one-on-one situation.
Later on, as Espindola looked to exploit another breakaway in the 28th minute, New England midfielder John Lozano looked to push the RSL forward in the back and to the ground. Gantar waved play on.