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

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RSL's Tony Beltran shows off the progress he has made with his game

It's probably fair to say that there's no way that defender Tony Beltran makes that pass, three years ago.

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But the RSL outside back has worked hard on his crosses from the flanks, which allowed him to perfectly chip the ball over the defense for teammate Alvaro Saborio to fire home for the winning goal in the 2-0 victory over the Colorado Rapids at Rio Tinto Stadium on Saturday night.

"When I first got here, I was a little bit raw, and that was a big area where I needed to improve," he said. "My second and third seasons, in particular, I did a lot of repetition work and I really feel that it has paid off, and hopefully I can deliver some more good balls this year."

In the final year of his contract, Beltran — the No. 3 pick of the 2008 MLS SuperDraft — acknowledged that he believes this season is big for him, and he has worked hard to meet the challenge.

"It's a big year for me, and I wanted to raise my game and I wanted to feel more confident and I wanted that to show on the field," he said. "So I'm proud of my play so far, but I think it can get better."

Beltran and fellow veteran Chris Wingert figure to get a greater share of the minutes at outside back this season, with Robbie Russell having been traded to D.C. United and only inexperienced newcomers behind them.

"I have contributed a lot of minutes for this team, a lot of important minutes," Beltran said. "But this year, the team is going to need a little bit more from me … I just wanted to raise my game to the level of one of the top outside backs in this league. I'm getting a little bit older now, and it's my time to step up."

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