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

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RSL's Tony Beltran enjoys scoring first career goal in important win

Hey, at least Tony Beltran didn't need as much time as teammate Chris Wingert to score his first goal for Real Salt Lake.

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But three years was long enough.

The young defender found the back of the net for the first time in his career tonight, scoring the opening goal in 2-0 victory over the minor-league Wilmington Hammerheads that lifted RSL into the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open Cup. The club will play FC Dallas at Pizza Hut Park on July 12, just three days after meeting the Hoops at home in a Major League Soccer regular-season game.

"I've been wanting to score for a long time," Beltran said. "I feel like I've been getting closer and closer, and getting more and more confident every game. So I was glad I was able to contribute tonight, personally, but I'm even more happy that we got the win. It's a very important win for us."

Coach Jason Kreis said Beltran played another "really, really strong game, all around. So now, he's putting multiple matches in a row where he's really at a high level, and has had quite a few chances to score already this season. So I'm glad that he finally got the monkey off his back a little bit, and I wouldn't be surprised if he ends up the season with a couple more."

That's the plan, Beltran said.

"Now that I have one, why not get some more," he said. "We'll see."

The No. 3 pick of the 2008 MLS SuperDraft credited the coaching staff for continuing to work with him during his fourth year with the team. "I just feel more confident this year, and that was the same last year as compared to the year before. So each year, I'm just trying to get better and each game I'm trying to get better. That has a lot to do with it."

Incidentally, Wingert played 147 games over seven years before finally scoring his first goal last season.

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