Real Salt Lake is “a fun team to watch” in 2-1 victory over the Vancouver Whitecaps

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Real Salt Lake midfielder Luis Silva (20) celebrates his goal along with Real Salt Lake midfielder Albert Rusnak (11) and Real Salt Lake forward Corey Baird (27), in MLS action between Real Salt Lake and Vancouver Whitecaps, at Rio Tinto Stadium beSaturday, April 7, 2018.

Sandy • Real Salt Lake forward Luis Silva turned his back to the crowd and tugged on the shoulders of his jersey to proudly display his name and number to the roaring Real Salt Lake fans after scoring the go-ahead goal Saturday night.

Silva’s first goal of the season was one of the flashes of strong offensive play reminiscent of the product RSL put on the field in the second half of last season. It helped lift RSL to a 2-1 victory over the Vancouver Whitecaps, RSL’s second win of the season.

“When we’re clicking,” RSL coach Mike Petke said, “our front four especially, we’re a pretty damn fun team to watch, but it’s been few and far between this year so far.”

Silva’s goal was assisted by Brooks Lennon, who has made the switch from winger to right back for the past four games. It was also Lennon’s first assist of the year.

In the final two minutes of the first half, Lennon lofted a pass to Luis Silva in the box. As three defenders converged on Silva, he spun and nailed a right-footed shot between two gray jerseys. Whitecaps goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic dived to his right, but the shot glanced off Vancouver defender Jake Nerwinski’s heel, redirecting it just enough to fly past Marinovic on his left side.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Real Salt Lake forward Brooks Lennon (12) goes for the ball along with Vancouver Whitecaps forward Alphonso Davies (67), in MLS action between Real Salt Lake and Vancouver Whitecaps, at Rio Tinto Stadium beSaturday, April 7, 2018.

Silva barely missed a shot 30 minutes earlier under similar circumstances. Rusnák sent a long ball diagonally across the field, and Silva settled it just outside the box. He faced down Vancouver captain Kendall Waston one-on-one, took a quick touch right, and struck a high shot down the middle of the goal. Whitecaps goalkeeper Stefan Martin leapt straight up and tapped it over the crossbar one-handed.

Silva attributed his team’s ability to score against a defense known to put numbers behind the ball to “a lot of movement off the ball. We did a good job of sharing the workload too defensively and just frustrated them.”

The second goal came in the 88th minute. Winger Corey Baird put an assist across the goal for Jefferson Savarino to finish.

Vancouver’s Brek Shea scored in added time.

RSL held a strong counterattacking team to one goal, even with an ever-rotating back line. Real Salt Lake was forced to make two defensive subs in the first half due to injuries.

“We worked on [defense in transition] all week,” Petke said, “having good shape, reacting to no pressure on the ball, knowing they’re going to serve it long and getting the numbers behind and around for winning the second balls. … If one thing, the effort and defensive structure was there, and I’m proud of the guys for that.”

First, outside back Adam Henley replaced a limping Demar Phillips, who went down twice before coming out. Then in the 41st minute, center back David Horst came on for Marcelo Silva. The starting center back forced a shot wide of the goal, but stayed down after his slide tackle. As the trainers walked him off the field, he pointed to his right hip flexer/groin area as the apparent location of his injury.

Storylines<br>Luis Silva and Jefferson Savarino score their firstgoals of the season for RSL.<br>Corey Baird logs his first MLSassist in his first MLS start.<br>The Vancouver Whitecaps have arare away game in which they lead in possession.