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Chris Kamrani
Chris Kamrani covers Real Salt Lake for the Tribune.

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Huge victory required everybody for RSL, but Paulo Junior led the way

Young forward Paulo Junior was the great revelation during RSL's 4-1 blasting of the Los Angeles Galaxy in its Major League Soccer home opener at sold-out Rio Tinto Stadium tonight, ravaging the Galaxy defense with his torrid pace and seemingly perfect touch.

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But it wasn't just him.

Coach Jason Kreis said "it was everybody being on the right page and in the right mindset about the match." He had a feeling that wound happen, too, when he saw the stadium record 20,507 fans creating a wonderful atmosphere on a pretty chilly and windy night.

"The crowd, right away, was so, so loud before the kickoff," Kreis said. "It was just like a magical moment, the beginning of the game for us, and I just knew the guys were going to be way into it."

Oh, they were.

Paulo created the second-fastest goal in team history with a cross that Andy Williams fired past goalkeeper Josh Saunders just 84 seconds into the game, then set up a penalty for Javier Morales in the 10th minute before scoring himself off a brilliant cross from Fabian Espindola in the 68th minute.

By then, the Galaxy were crushed.

"He was good," Kreis said. "Really, really good when we had the ball. Tonight in the first half, I thought he was dangerous every time he touched it, and every time he was around it. Obviously, made a lot of things happen. … Defensively, I wasn't too pleased.

"Again," he added, "it's something that players who come into our system have to learn. It takes awhile. I talked to him at halftime, and in the second half, he made a couple of good defensive tackles for us, which is important."

Paulo is widely regarded as the best trialist RSL ever had, with Kreis often recalling that he knew after one training session that he wanted the young Brazilian on his team. Paulo was starting his first league game in place of Alvaro Saborio, who's away on international duty — and might want to hurry back.

"I was so happy to help the team win the match," Paulo said through an interpreter. "I was so happy to play the way I played."

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