Sandy • Kyle Beckerman may have notched two assists. Albert Rusnák may have scored the goal that gave Real Salt Lake the lead for good.
But it was reserve midfielder Nick Besler who stole the show.
Besler provided the final 3-1 scoreline in RSL’s win Saturday over New York City FC with a shot that could end up on the Top 10 of ESPN’s “SportsCenter.” Jefferson Savarino, who scored earlier in the game, took a shot that found Besler, who had his back turned from the goal. Besler lifted his foot up and connected with his heel, straight into the back of the net.
With the win, RSL moved back above the playoff line to sixth in the Western Conference.
When asked if he had just three words to describe Besler’s goal, center back Justen Glad said he only need one: “Spectacular.”
Assistant coach Tyrone Marshall said Besler is the type of player that attracts the ball.
“He’s like the [San Jose forward Chris] Wondolowski of our team,” Marshall said, referencing the top goal scorer in Major League Soccer history. “Nick is always in a good position.”
Besler accepted Marshall’s comparison, but with one caveat.
“I think I’m a few goals behind Wondo,” Besler said. “But I guess I’ll take it. I’m kind of a poacher in a sense. You just kind of have to have a sense where the ball might go. That’s what happened on that one.”
Besler’s goal may have been the most impressive moment of the match, but RSL had the game in hand at that point. Thirteen minutes earlier, Real earned a free kick from about 40 yards from the goal after Alexander Ring was given a yellow card. The ball bounced around the field, from Real player to Real player, before finding Beckerman.
The RSL captain passed to his left to Rusnák. He took a couple of dribbles to his right and pounded a shot between two NYCFC defenders and into the goal for a 2-1 lead. It was Beckerman’s second assist of the night.
Beckerman credited his two helpers to the way the team has worked on moving off the ball, particularly in the attacking third.
“If we’re moving and we have good movement, then the passes are just pretty simple — play, move, play, move — and then they’re chasing us all over,” Beckerman said. “So that was all it was about today.”
RSL gave up a goal before five minutes of game time passed. Alexandru Mitrita delivered a strike that needed both of goalkeeper Nick Rimando’s gloves to spot. Seconds later, however, Anton Tinnerholm beat Corey Baird one-on-one and dropped it to Ring, who turned past Everton Luiz and converted a wide-open shot for the 1-0 lead.
Marshall said after RSL conceded the first goal, it actually calmed them down a bit.
“After they scored, I thought we dominated,” Marshall said.
In the 37th minute, Real put together a series of passes to that led to an equalizer. Baird floated a pass from the midfield into the attacking third. There, Damir Kreilach was waiting. He headed a pass to Rusnák, who then gave it to Beckerman. The RSL captain touched to Jefferson Savarino, who only needed one settling touch before scoring the goal.
After those first two goals, both teams had their fair share of chances to take the lead. One or RSL came in the 69th minute. Rusnák gave a well-weighted pass to Savarino who attempted the shot from the left side both the goal. But NYCFC goalkeeper Sean Johnson was right there to collect it.