Sandy • Just like everybody else, Andy Williams figured goalkeeper Kevin Hartman was easily handling the long-range shot that Williams had just lofted toward goal, so he could not figure out why teammate Kyle Beckerman was celebrating all of a sudden.
"I was like, 'What are you jumping for?' " Williams recalled.
Turns out, Hartman one of the best goalkeepers in Major League Soccer Â mishandled the shot. He couldn't corral the dipping ball as he went to his knees, and could only watch helplessly as it bounded off his arms, over his left shoulder and into the net for a goal that propelled Real Salt Lake to a crucial 2-0 victory over FC Dallas in front of 17,734 fans at Rio Tinto Stadium on Saturday night.
"There's not a goalkeeper in the world who goes their whole career without making a mistake," RSL's Will Johnson said. "And luckily for us, he made a mistake tonight."
It could turn out to be a big one, too.
The victory extended RSL's unbeaten streak to six games it improved to 8-3-6 overall and earned it three points in the standings against the hottest team in the league.
The Hoops had lost only once in their previous 13 games, and had allowed only one goal in their last three all wins.
It also could help inspire RSL as it prepares to meet FC Dallas again on Tuesday in a quarterfinal of the U.S. Open Cup tournament at Pizza Hut Park in Texas. The team has never won there, yet needs to change that in order to keep alive its hope of winning the whole tournament and claiming a berth in the CONCACAF Champions League.
"It's going to be difficult," Williams said.
RSL managed to make it look reasonably easy at home, by controlling the midfield and keeping scoring machine Brek Shea under control.
Defender Tony Beltran frustrated the rangy midfielder all night, and forward Fabian Espindola added an insurance goal on a counterattack just moments before the final whistle to drop the Hoops to 10-5-4 for 34 points. Both teams played without key men; defender Nat Borchers was suspended for RSL, while midfield captain Daniel Hernandez rested after playing every minute of the season for FC Dallas.
"We stated before the game that this was a huge, huge match for us," RSL coach Jason Kreis said. "Probably the biggest one we've had this season. â¦ To get all three points at home against them was big for us."
Not only did Williams score the goal that made the difference for RSL he tapped a free kick just a couple of feet to Beckerman, who tapped it back for Williams to shoot in the 47th minute but defender Chris Wingert made a game-saving defensive play by clearing a shot off the line in the 85th minute.
And that left Alvaro Saborio to create a curious spectacle.
The forward stalked off the field and directly to the locker room when Kreis subbed him off in the 87th minute, with Kreis waving his arm dismissively before sending a trainer in pursuit. Saborio left the stadium without speaking to reporters, and Kreis declined to comment except to say he thought Saborio "looked really tired" and needed to come off.
R IN SHORT • RSL beats FC Dallas 2-0 in what it viewed as perhaps its biggest game of the season so far.
KEY STAT • RSL improves to 8-1-1 when scoring first.
KEY MOMENT • Dallas goalkeeper Kevin Hartman flubs catching a shot, allowing RSL to score the winner in the 47th minute.