Sandy • Javier Morales thought it would at least take two games for a renewed Real Salt Lake club to show its strength.
It only took one.
Guided by Morales' efficient in-the-box passing and the quick feet of midfielder Ãlvaro SaborÃo, RSL shut out the Seattle Sounders FC 3-0 during the first leg of an MLS Western Conference semifinals match Saturday evening at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Morales recorded two assists, SaborÃo collected two goals, and the duo's off-the-field chemistry translated into an invaluable in-game attack.
"We're friends," Morales said. "We're friends outside and in the field. So I'm happy for him because I think he deserves two goals. And the second one was so good."
The first goal was actually all Morales. The midfielder, who has finally returned to form, changed speeds in midstride near Seattle's goal and expertly passed the ball to teammate Chris Wingert, who sent a shot past Sounders keeper Kasey Keller that SaborÃo lightly pushed in.
The second goal was pure magic.
After Morales smoothly crossed the ball toward Seattle's line, SaborÃo stopped time. The RSL forward collected the cross and kicked it backward with the heel of his foot, all while nearly standing still. It was 2-0 at the 53-minute mark, and the Sounders were silenced.
Two consecutive Morales-to-SaborÃo connections. Two strong goals. One insurmountable lead.
"Now we have everyone healthy, everyone is back," Morales said. "I thought that it was going to take a couple games to play a game. But tonight was good."
Morales was great. He led an RSL attack that put up 19 shots, including 12 on goal. Factor in that Real sent out 392 passes on 80-percent accuracy and controlled possession 55.1 percent of the time, and RSL's offense has suddenly found new life.
One game ahead of schedule.
Following the stride of Morales' smooth, efficient feet.
"Javi found a way to get his swagger again tonight," RSL coach Jason Kreis said. "That should bode very well for us."
Minute Goal Assist Score
41 Ãlvaro SaborÃo Javier Morales, Chris Wingert 1-0, RSL
53 SaborÃo Morales 2-0, RSL