Carson, Calif. • Alvaro Saborio has scored a lot of goals for Real Salt Lake.
But few have been as easy as the first two of the three he netted in a 4-0 blowout victory over Chivas USA at the Home Depot Center on Saturday night, when he broke the franchise record for goals in a season and kept RSL in good position in the chase for Major League Soccer playoff seeding.
“For whatever reason, we had a good night,” coach Jason Kreis said. “We had a really good night. … A lot of things went right for us.”
And the team that has had its struggles this season could not have been happier.
It won the road for the first time since beating the Goats here way back on June 16, and moved into second place in the MLS Western Conference with 52 points from its 16-11-4 record, with three regular-season games remaining.
That’s three points ahead of both the Los Angeles Galaxy and the Seattle Sounders — though the Galaxy play at Colorado on Sunday and the Sounders still have four regular-season games left. All three teams are battling for second and third place in the West, to avoid the dangerous new wild-card game.
“We have to think every game is a playoff and keep going,” Saborio said.
Saborio scored twice in the first 11 minutes to equal the 16 goals that Jeff Cunningham scored for RSL in 2006, then added his third on a brilliant piece of skill in the 65th minute, after Chivas goalkeeper Dan Kennedy had come out to stop RSL’s Will Johnson.
The ball caromed out to Saborio near the top of the box, and he chipped it deftly over Kennedy as the keeper scrambled hopelessly to get back in time to stop it.
“Certainly something special,” Kreis said.
Paulo Jr. added the final RSL goal, with a pinpoint shot to the top corner at the near post in the 81st minute off a perfect pass from Fabian Espindola.
Espindola was the aggressive creator all night in probably his best game of the season, recording three assists — including those on both of Saborio’s first two goals.
On the first, he served in the cross in the eighth minute that teammate Javier Morales headed on to Saborio for the goal. Only three minutes later, Espindola intercepted a Kennedy throw in the Chivas penalty area and crossed to a wide open Saborio, who easily tapped the ball home.
That all but sealed the game — considering RSL was 13-1-0 when scoring first and Chivas had scored only one goal in its past five games, including none in its last three.
“We were focused right from the first whistle,” RSL’s Kyle Beckerman said. “And when the chances came, we put them away.”
The Goats now have not scored in 449 minutes, and have allowed more goals in their past eight games (23) than they have scored all season (21). That’s why Chivas is by far the lowest-scoring team in the league, sitting in last place with 28 points from its 7-16-7 record.
Storylines Real Salt Lake 4, Chivas USA 0
R IN SHORT • Alvaro Saborio scores three goals to lift RSL to a victory over Chivas USA.
KEY STAT • The Goats have not scored a goal in 449 minutes.
KEY MOMENT • RSL’s Fabian Espindola steals a pass in the penalty area, and crosses to Saborio for an easy tap-in that makes it 2-0 in the 11th minute.