RSL stays alive another day
Sandy » The buzzards are still circling and Real Salt Lake's playoff future still remains in doubt.
For the moment, though, thanks to the efforts of two late substitutes, RSL (10-11-7) can release a deep sigh of relief and look ahead to another "cup final" Saturday at Toronto. One down, two more wins to go in order to secure a berth in Major League Soccer's postseason.
In what seemed like a blink of time Wednesday night at Rio Tinto Stadium, Real Salt Lake turned what looked like a certain New York Red Bulls (4-19-6) goal into a go-ahead score by Andy Williams and an eventual 2-0 victory.
"The game happens in transition," RSL coach Jason Kreis said. "Quick transitions."
In the 80th minute, New York defender Carlos Johnson found the ball at his feet inside the 18-yard box. Certainly his shot was headed into RSL's goal.
However, RSL's Jamison Olave stepped in the way, knocking the shot down with his chest. The quick-thinking defender then found forward Robbie Findley at midfield with a pass.
The speedy Findley streaked down the right side toward goal and lofted a pass to Williams, who was coming down the left side. Williams buried the shot and the anxious 16,247 fans exploded in exultation.
So did the Salt Lake bench.
"We kind of outnumbered them," said Williams, who entered the game in the 63rd minute, six minutes earlier than Findley. "I just ran to the back post. It was an easy tap-in for me. Robbie did most of the work."
Ten minutes later, as RSL maintained its pressure, Fabian Espindola finished the deal with beautiful curving shot into the upper right corner of the goal.
The victory not only gave RSL three badly needed points, it was also the team's first ever win against New York.
If there is a such a thing as justice in soccer, it finally came to Real, which had attacked the entire game against New York. The Red Bulls, content to sit back, absorbed wave after wave. RSL put five shots on goal in each half .
"We said to be patient," RSL midfielder Kyle Beckerman said. "Keep putting the pressure on them. We figured it was going to come sooner or later."
For Williams' part, he predicted on his Facebook page that a goal was coming.
"I've done it before and it never worked," he said. "I just had a feeling today."
The two goals marked the 17th time that RSL has scored after the 75th minute, nearly half its total of 40.
Kreis could not have been happier for Williams, who has played mostly as a substitute this season.
"Andy has had his share of difficulties the last two years," Kreis said. "We needed an extra spark."
Kreis believes RSL, with 37 points, needs six more to make the playoffs.
"This means we're still alive," he said. "Saturday will be another cup final."
RSL substitute Andy Williams scores the eventual game-winning goal in the 80th minute.
» Williams' goal comes seconds after RSL defender Jamison Olave turns in the defensive play of the game, blocking a point blank New York shot.
» Real Salt Lake scores two goals in the final 10 minutes, giving the team 17 total this season after the 75th minute.