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

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Missed call or not, Espindola provides feel-good story for victorious RSL

Everybody was happy for Fabian Espindola, getting rewarded for all his hard work with the dramatic winning goal for RSL in its 1-0 victory over the Colorado Rapids.

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Except that it probably should not have counted.

Replays seemed to show Espindola was in an offside position before he knocked home the rebound of a Javier Morales free kick that had caromed off the post and in front of the net in the 93rd minute at windswept Rio Tinto Stadium, by virtue of teammate Paulo Junior touching the ball first.

Still, it was hard not to feel good for a guy who always runs himself ragged for the team, yet so seldom gets tangibly rewarded for it.

Even against the Rapids, he had a first-half called negated by an offside call, and would have scored on sort of a pseudo-bicycle kick if goalkeeper Matt Pickens hadn't made a great reflexive save. Coach Jason Kreis said Espindola could have been the man of the match.

"It's great to see him get on the scoreboard," defender Nat Borchers said. "He has set up so many goals and been so dangerous for us … and it's just fantastic to see him get the credit."

Some of the credit also had to go to Morales, though, for hitting what Espindola himself called an "almost perfect" free kick at the end, to set up the winner. Morales said he had a feeling he did not strike the ball quite perfectly to get it past Pickens, but was happy that Espindola was there to clean it up.

"Fabi was there, he scored, and good for us," Morales said with a smile. "Three points."

Actually, RSL now has the maximum 12 points from its four league games, having outscored opponents 8-1 in that span and extended its home unbeaten streak to 37 games in all competitions and 18 games in regular-season league games — just one shy of the record.

Perhaps even more impressive, three of its victories have come against the next three best teams in the MLS Western Conference — the Rapids, the Los Angeles Galaxy and the San Jose Earthquakes. It hasn't even started playing the bad teams yet, something that will commence when it finally returns to league play on April 30 at Portland.

By then, RSL will have played both legs of its Champions League final against Monterrey of Mexico — those games are April 20 and 27 — and then gets the Timbers and lowly Chivas USA.

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