Saturday night was the first time since August that Real Salt Lake has scored three or more goals.

It came against a 10-man Colorado team, but the adjustments were there. The quick ball movement was there, the switches were there.

Real Salt Lake got some of its attacking identity back in a 3-0 win over the Colorado Rapids Saturday. It scored three goals in the final 10 minutes of the match, after pounding the Rapids defense with 29 shots, 10 of which were on target, throughout the game.

“It was a bit stressful,” coach Mike Petke said after the match. “You look back to the second to last game last year in Colorado, when it was 11-on-11 and they sat so deep and we had 30-something shots and couldn’t put them away. But [tonight] the penalty kick started it off and then it was two other fantastic goals.”

That last match against the Rapids is generally considered the moment when RSL lost its chance at a playoff berth. It was still statistically possible for the comeback kids to claim a spot in the postseason after falling to a struggling Colorado team on the road, but after beating Sporting Kansas City 2-1 the next game, RSL missed the playoffs by a single point.

Colorado had pulled off the regular season upset by scoring early and putting numbers behind the ball for the remaining 87 minutes. It weathered a whopping 29 RSL shots, seven on target, to secure the 1-0 win.

So there was a sense of deja vu Saturday when the Rapids, down a man and locked in a scoreless game, packed the box to disrupt chance after chance.

As the night wore on, RSL created scoring opportunities even more frequently, taking 11 shots in the first half and 18 in the second. In a span of three minutes, from the 67th minute to the 70th, RSL missed four shots by just inches.

First, RSL swung the ball from the left to the right to open up a shot for outside back Brooks Lennon just outside the box. Goalkeeper Zac McMath dove to his left to save Lennon’s near-post strike. RSL winger Jefferson Savarino put the rebound back across the face of the net, forcing Colorado to concede a corner kick. Albert Rusnák placed the corner kick at the top of the 6-yard box, and RSL midfielder Damir Kreilach headed it just over the crossbar.

Two minutes later, a series of full-field switches followed by quick combination play in the penalty area led to a left-footed shot by Rusnák that was yet again knocked away by McMath at the near post. On the resulting corner kick, Savarino ended up with the ball about 20 yards out, and his shot missed just wide.

With 10 men, I think the players deserve a lot of credit,” Colorado coach Anthony Hudson said , “because they stayed in the game for a long time. They were organized, they were disciplined, they showed a lot of character.”

That was the story of Colorado’s defense until a 82nd minute penalty kick.

Kyle Beckerman set it up with a free kick in the 78th minute that he sent into a high-traffic area of the box.

Both teams swarmed the ball. Krielach got a touch on the ball, then RSL defender Justen Glad. Colorado defender Tommy Smith stopped the shot with a slide tackle at first, and then as Kreilach stepped forward for another attempt, Smith scooped his arm under the ball to pull it out from under Kreilach’s feet.

Plata netted the penalty kick to open the scoring, and Kreilach and Rusnák added on goals of their own in quick succession.

“It was a bit of confidence,” Petke said of the late-scoring surge, “and we had a great week of training; we really focused on off ball movement and keeping the ball.”

Even such a dominant final score comes with an asterisk due to an early red card — although a goal at that point also would have altered the game. Beyond the hypotheticals, however, RSL’s attack was closer to what it wants to be. But isn’t a finished product.

“None of us are where we want to be right now,” Petke said, “but we just won 3-0 against a conference rival, which is huge for us.”