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Real Salt Lake starts hot, beats Seattle Sounders 2-1

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(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) RSL striker Robbie Findley. Is this his breakout year into stardom in the soccer world?

By Aaron Falk

The Salt Lake Tribune

First published Mar 30 2013 11:08PM
Updated Mar 31, 2013 12:08AM

Sandy • All week long, Nat Borchers was in Robbie Findley’s ear.

The Real Salt Lake center back told the forward he looked sharp in training, that this was the week. He was going to score.

It took Findley all of eight minutes Saturday night to prove Borchers right. A long throw-in took a deflection and Findley put a left foot on a bouncing ball, slipping it past Seattle goalkeeper Michael Gspurning. Findley’s first goal since rejoining RSL helped give the club a 2-1 win over a Sounders team that bounced Salt Lake from the playoffs a season ago.

"It’s always good to get the first one, get that off your mind," Findley said.

Coach Jason Kreis put it more succinctly: "Finally."

Findley had found himself in dangerous spots for RSL early in the year, but through four games he had failed to find the back of the net. Kreis said he thought Findley’s goal could have been the first of several Saturday, but Findley strained a muscle in his groin on the play and came out just a few minutes later.

Nevertheless, RSL would stay on the attack.

Salt Lake dominated the scoring chances, particularly in the first half. RSL used a short-corner play it had practiced this week to get its second goal. Sebestian Valesquez found Ned Grabavoy, who floated a ball to Luis Gil. The midfielder put his head on the pass and beat Gspurning in the 35th minute.

RSL, playing without Alvaro Saborio, who had scored all of the club’s goals coming into Saturday night, forced the issue against Seattle, pushing its midfielders more often into the attacking third of the field.

"Obviously we want him on the field, but now we’ve got guys scoring goals and not just him," Gil said. "And that’s a big thing."

It should be a boost of confidence for Gil, too.

"I need to start being more dangerous," he said. "I feel like one game I’ll be dangerous and not be so dangerous the next one. I’ve got a goal and I feel like I’ve just got to be more consistent now."

A sellout crowd at Rio Tinto Stadium was on its feet and roaring with applause when midfielder Javier Morales saw the field for the first time this season, coming in for Gil in the second half.

With help from Grabavoy, Joao Plata and rookie Devon Sandoval, RSL peppered Gspurning, launching 25 shots in the game — 10 of them on frame. The keeper’s seven saves kept Seattle in the hunt. And when Brad Evans blasted a falling ball past RSL goalie Nick Rimando in the 57th minute, Salt Lake’s lead was just 2-1.

"It was good to see them get all these opportunities," Findley said. "It’s just a matter of putting them away now. [Gspurning] did well in goal. He’s a big body. But we got the result."

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