Seattle • With a little more sleep under his belt, Fabian Espindola was able to welcome his new son into the world in proper style. The new father scored a 51st-minute goal off a nice feed from Luis Gil as Real Salt Lake handed the Seattle Sounders a 1-0 defeat in front of a season-high crowd of 39,312 at CenturyLink Field on Saturday.
The goal gives Espindola 31 in his career, which sets a new RSL franchise record.
“It’s so big,” RSL center back Nat Borchers said of Espindola’s goal. “I’m so happy for him. He got the night off on Wednesday and he came out and he was sharp tonight.”
It was actually Espindola’s second appearance as a father, but the first came the day after his son was born and he was unable to train with the team the day before. RSL coach Jason Kreis decided to give him the start anyway, saying he thought it gave his forward a chance to have a special night.
Turns out, he just needed to wait a week.
“I knew he was going to be really bright tonight and I thought he was absolutely spectacular,” Kreis said.
While it was Espindola’s goal that provided the difference, much credit for the win also belongs to a defense that really did a number on the Sounders, especially in the second half. The Sounders were held without a single shot on goal all night. Fredy Montero, who came into the game having logged three goals and an assist in his past three games, was limited to just two shots and really didn’t have a quality chance.
The win gave RSL (8-3-2) an MLS-best 26 points and ended a six-match unbeaten streak for the Sounders, who had come into the game with the league’s best points-per-match mark.
The game took on an almost playoff-like feel, with two of the top teams in MLS facing off. Just like the last time these teams met in the actual playoffs, RSL was certainly ready.
“Credit to our guys, they get up for these games to play quality opponents in quality venues,” Kreis said. “And Seattle represents both.”
No one seemed to get up for it more than Espindola, who hadn’t scored a goal since April 7 and had come into this game having scored just one goal in his past eight matches. He couldn’t have picked a better time to change all that.
“My first goal after my son,” Espindola said. “I’m so happy about that. Every goal is going to be for him now.”
Storylines RSL 1, Sounders 0
R Fabian Espindola scores in the 51st minute for Real Salt Lake.• The win give RSL an MLS-leading 26 points, and breaks Seattle’s six-match unbeaten streak.